by Martin Sherman
2nd part of 2
PART II. RESPONSES TO FAQs
We have now come to the end of the first stage of our plan to promote our proposal for a Humanitarian Regional Solution to the Israeli Palestinian Conflict. (The proposal can be accessed via
http://www.jerusalemsummit.org/eng/hs_short_eng.htm in English and
http://www.jerusalemsummit.org/eng/hs_short.htm in Hebrew)
The proposal generated a flood of responses -- some of which we tried to answer on an individual basis. However, although we would have liked to reply personally to each respondent, whether supportive or antagonistic, this proved impossible and we are, unfortunately, physically unable to do so.
Instead we have composed this single document which addresses most of the questions, comments, criticisms and objections that were raised during campaign.
How much would it cost?
It is difficult to arrive at a precise estimate for the total cost of such a scheme for the relocation and rehabilitation of the Palestinian population west of the Jordan River -- since this would clearly depend on the finally determined level of compensation and the actual size of the population. There is a fierce debate regarding the true figures for Palestinian population in Judea, Samaria and Gaza - with a discrepancy of well over a million between competing estimates. New and reliable sources seem to indicate that the Palestinian population is considerably lower than the usually accepted figures. (See The Million Person Gap: The Arab Population in the West Bank and Gaza-
http://www.biu.ac.il/Besa/MSPS65.pdf and also see
Assuming compensation of between US$100,000-200,000 per family the total cost would be between US $60 billion and US $160 billion.
This is of course is a fraction of the US$350 billion that the US has already incurred in the War on Iraq. Moreover, given the fact that Israel's GNP is about US$100 billion, if it were to allocate 5-7% of this GNP per annum over a decade to a decade and a half, it could bear much of the economic burden by itself. If the international community were to help shoulder the task, the entire enterprise could be completed far more rapidly, at a cost which would be virtually imperceptible, amounting to a mere fraction of a percentage point of the GNP of the OECD nations.
Finally it should be recognized that cost incurred by "Disengagement" from Gaza, together with a cost of the planned "Convergence" from the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) is estimated at tens of billions of dollars. The same is true for the evacuation of the Golan. Thus, the cost of Israeli withdrawal, and uprooting Jewish settlements established decades ago, is of the same order of magnitude as of the proposed Humanitarian-Regional Solution for the resettlement of the Palestinians -- this without taking into account the cost of financing UNRWA in its present form and the enormous international aid that would be required to maintain a faltering and failing Palestinian State.
Surely it would be far wiser to spend the money on inducing voluntary Palestinian migration rather than imposing coercive Jewish deportation.
How feasible is large Scale Palestinian Emigration?
No one knows precisely how many Palestinians can be induced to emigrate without putting the matter to a practical test. However, the only available evidence strongly suggests that extensive emigration is indeed eminently feasible. A poll commissioned in December 2004 by the Jerusalem Summit and conducted via a reputable Israeli research institute, Maagar Mohot Interdisciplinary Research and Consulting Institute Ltd, in collaboration with the well-known Palestinian center, The Palestinian Center For Public Opinion, showed that over 40% had actively considered emigration while up to 50% did not discount such a possibility -- even without being offered any material inducement. The figure rose to over 70% (!) when the question of material compensation was introduced to encourage such emigration. See http://www.jerusalemsummit.org/eng/news.php?news=102.
These findings received strong -- and independent corroboration -- in a recent poll conducted by Bir Zeit Universtiy, which also showed that close to half the Palestinian youth would emigrate if given the chance. In the words of the poll: "44% of young Palestinians are willing to [e]migrate if given the opportunity". See
http://home.birzeit.edu/dsp/opinionpolls/poll28/highlights.html. Likewise an article which appeared in October this year in the Christian Science Monitor also reports wide-scale Palestinian willingness to emigrate -- again even in the absence of the systematic financial inducements specified in our proposal. See
These findings are of course far more powerful and persuasive evidence than the vague and unsubstantiated protestations of those opposing the proposal that "the Palestinians will never forsake their land". The factual findings seem to indicate otherwise.
Who would accept them?
The Palestinian recipients of relocation grants would not be arriving as communities of impoverished refugees but as individual immigrants of relative affluence who traditionally have brought great benefit to the host countries that accepted them. Moreover, the volume of money the Palestinian newcomers would bring with them would constitute a very significant influx of funds into the economies of these host countries. Indeed, for every hundred Palestinian families received, the host country could count on the influx of around ten to twenty million dollars directly into the private sector. Absorbing 2500 new Palestinian family units could mean the injection of quarter of a billion to half a billion dollars, into the local economy of countries direly in need of such funds.
Consider the following example, which if not entirely realistic, is instructive in illustrating the principle involved. Suppose Indonesia - the word's most populous Moslem country -- were to open its gates to the Palestinians and all the Palestinians in areas across the Green Line were indeed to emigrate to that country. The significance of this would be an increase of a little over 1% (!) of the Indonesian population (estimated at almost 250 million) but an influx of over US $100 billion (!!!) into the Indonesian economy whose total GNP (2005) is less than US $300 billion. Moreover, each Palestinian breadwinner would arrive with a sum worth over a century (!!!) of GNP per capita in his pocket -- which would mean that he would in no way be an impoverished refugee and a burden on the local society or economy. Quite the opposite. He would be a rather well-to-do individual, capable of making a positive contribution to both the economy and society.
It is of course unrealistic to believe that all the Palestinians would head for a single destination. However if Palestinian emigration was distributed over several countries, they could be absorbed, resettled and rehabilitated with very little difficulty by a number of host nations with compatible domestic socio-cultural and religious environments -- with the financial benefits accruing to these host nations being proportional to number of Palestinian immigrants they accept.
What about those who remain?
This is of course a serious question and a detailed response would depend on, among other things, the size of the residual Palestinian population who refuse any material compensation as an inducement to emigrate. The acuteness of the problem would definitely be a function of its scale. Clearly the smaller this residual population, the less pressing and less serious the need will be deal with it. For example it seems plausible that if, say, only a hundred thousand Palestinians remain, consideration may well be given to the possibility of offering them Israeli citizenship -- subject to stringent security vetting and sworn acceptance of Jewish sovereignty as the sole legitimate source of authority in the land -- without endangering the Jewish character of Israel.
If by contrast well over million remain, granting such citizenship is liable to jeopardize the Jewish character of the state. Accordingly other arrangements must be devised. In such a circumstance, the remaining Palestinians would be deemed (accurately) resident aliens with wide ranging economic, religious and cultural liberties but with yet to be determined political affiliation.
Continued right of residency would contingent upon acceptance of Jewish sovereignty. [Any manifestation of insurrection would result in the offender being declared a "persona non grata" -- as would be the case in any self-respecting democracy if an alien resident were to rebel against the prevailing source of sovereignty -- and in his being deported from the country along with those dependant on him for their livelihood.] One option may be to confer upon them special UN status together with UN documents to facilitate travel. Another would be to canvass third party states to offer them non-resident citizenship in return for financial benefits to theses states.
In any event it is totally unreasonable to insist that Israel either jeopardize its Jewish character (the very raison d'etre for its establishment) by conferring full citizenship on a large populace of hostile aliens, or jeopardize its national security (indeed survival) by relinquishing territory comprising vital strategic assets -- to accommodate highly questionable demands of those hostile aliens.
No other nation on the face of the earth would acquiesce to such demands; no other nation would be expected to acquiesce to them.
Isn't the proposal an odious/fascist/racist plot for ethnic cleansing?
This is a most puzzling accusation leveled by some respondents at the proposal. For it is indeed difficult to fathom what aspect of the plan could conceivably be considered "odious", "fascist" or "racist"?
- The proposal prescribes reassigning the treatment of the Palestinian refugees to an organization with proven record of success (U.N. High Commission for Refugees -- UNHCFR) from one with a proven record of failure (UNRWA) . Should this be considered "odious", "fascist" or "racist"? If so, why so?
- The proposal prescribes putting the Palestinian refugees on a par with all the other refugees on the face of the globe. Should this be considered "odious", "fascist" or "racist"? If so, why so??
- The proposal prescribes demanding the elimination of ethnic discrimination against Palestinians across the Arab world. Should this be considered "odious", "fascist" or "racist"? If so, why so??
- The proposal prescribes allowing individual Palestinians to decide, on their own, for themselves, to extricate themselves and their families from penury and privation. Should this be considered "odious", "fascist" or "racist"? If so, why so??
Indeed in light of the proven political incompetence of the Palestinians and their manifest lack of authentic political will to exercise self-determination, one finds it strange that that those who purport to be sympathetic to the Palestinians would persist in inflicting on them the hardship and suffering that their spurious demands for statehood have wrought upon them.
After all isn't giving the notion of "state" absolute dominance over individual liberties the very essence of fascism? So wouldn't the real fascists be those who insist that Palestinian statehood must have precedence over free choice of Palestinian individuals, whatever the human cost at the personal level??
More on the question of ethnic cleansing
Should the millions of Arabs/Moslems who decided to migrate to Western countries to improve their lives be deemed "ethnically cleansed? Surely not.
So why should Palestinians who make the same decision to improve their living standards and that of their families -- something hitherto denied them by the adoption of erroneous assumptions regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict -- be considered "ethnically cleansed" -- and not "economically upgraded"?
Moreover, if ethnic separation leads to stability which ethnic mingling undermines, would this still be considered "immoral"?
If multi-ethnic realities generate bloodshed and enmity -- why is this more moral than mono-ethnic realities that generate calm and stability?
By the way, isn't the policy of Israeli withdrawal driven precisely by the principle of ethnic separation? But as opposed to this proposal, withdrawal will involve Israel relinquishing strategic assets vital for its security and leave individual Palestinians victims of the corrupt kleptocracy of the Fatah or the tyrannical theocracy of the Hamas. How moral is that?
Finally, it should be recalled that although opponents endeavor to taint it as being fascist or racist, the concept of ethnic separation and resettlement as vehicle for inducing stability has impeccable humanitarian credentials, as can be gauged from the following citation from President Herbert Hoover, whose efforts to relieve famine and human misery in World War I earned him the title of the "The Great Humanitarian":
"Consideration should be given even to the heroic remedy of transfer of populations... the hardship of moving is great, but it is less than the constant suffering of minorities and the constant recurrence of war." -- (President Herbert Hoover, in The Problems of Lasting Peace, pp.235-36).
What if the Same Kind of Offer Would Be Made to Induce Jewish Emigration?
The answer to this question has two complementary parts: 1. The offer is not on the table for Jews in Israel and certainly would not be put there by an Israeli government. The measure is proffered as a means to:
(a) Relieve genuine Palestinian humanitarian misery not Jewish disgruntlement
(b) Ensure -- not undermine- the survival of Israel as the Nation-State of the Jews
2. Of course, it would be impossible to prevent Arab elements from offering Jews financial inducement to emigrate from Israel, but in this regard it should be recalled that:
(a) For the overwhelming majority of Israelis, the standard of living is far higher than that of the Palestinians. Israel is classified as an advanced industrial nation with a GNP per capita 15-20 times higher than that in the Palestinian administered territories -- and many independent Arab countries.
(b) Accordingly, it would be commensurately more difficult to tempt them to leave. The kind sums offered would have to be considerably higher to create a comparable economic incentive (decades of GNP per capita of relevant host countries) and would run into millions rather than hundreds of thousands per family.
(c) In this regard it should be pointed out that recent polls indicate that between 80-90% of the Jewish population in Israel are satisfied with their life -- thus the prospect of financial incentives of to induce large scale emigration seems remote.
Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.