Why There Will Be No Solution in the Mideast
The West, and the world, fools itself that there can be peace in the Mideast. There cannot. The chief problem is that we apply Western paradigms to two peoples who are decidedly non-Western.
First, let me state that a large part of this problem is Islam. A more maniacal religion has not been invented. It promotes savagery as well as brutalization of its women.
But there is a second – equally important – issue that is not discussed.
Were the Palestinians of Gaza, and Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), absorbed into Israel proper and enfranchised, they would approximate the number of Jews in the land, no matter whose numbers are used.
The number of Jews and Arabs between the Mediterranean Sea and Jordan River is at or near parity, figures cited by Israeli officials show, raising questions whether Israel can remain a democracy if it keeps territory where Palestinians seek a state.
Even if one uses the nationalist Yoram Ettinger's numbers, the demographics are indeed troubling. And here lies the rub. The idea of assimilating million of Arabs, hostile or not, into Israel's polity would not be entertained by Israeli Jews.
The usual Western method to solve this problem is to incorporate, assimilate, and enfranchise. After the Mexican War, local Hispanics in the Southwest were offered citizenship. After the Civil War, Lincoln's solution was to re-incorporate the South. Puerto Ricans were given citizenship in 1917. Guamanians and the Mariana Islanders would follow suit later on.
Such a solution is unthinkable to the Israelis, even if the population were Danish Lutheran. Israel would not be comfortable with incorporating a large non-Jewish population into its polity, which would make the Jews either a bare majority, or a minority, no matter how benign the population was – and the Arabs are certainly not benign.
Israel, while a democracy, is not a democracy along Western – and certainly not along American or Canadian – lines. Most Western nations have separated religion from state with varying degrees of success. Israel does not. It declares itself to be a Jewish state, and it has established Orthodox Judaism as the standard.
To see this in action, one need merely note that there are many Reform Jews from America who have run into problems in Israel because they could not produce the paperwork sufficient to please Israel's Orthodox rabbis.
In Israel, there is no civil marriage or divorce. While anyone with one Jewish grandparent can come to Israel under the Law of Return and obtain immediate citizenship, only someone who has a Jewish mother or has had an Orthodox conversion by an approved rabbi can be married in Israel.
The last American laws even remotely similar to these were finally done away with in America in Loving v. Virginia, 1967.
While many view Jewishness along religious lines, and even though conversion is allowed, though not encouraged, there is an aspect by which Judaism is seen as ethnic. True, ancestral checks are not uncommon in Europe. Many European countries allow for descendants of émigrés to get citizenship. But that ethnic inspection often ends with obtaining a passport. However, ancestral Jewishness is more strictly examined in Israel.
The Orthodox rabbis are empowered in areas that many Westerners would consider intrusions into civil life. Judaism is taken seriously, and if the news is any indication, strict adherence is growing in Israel.
This increasing emphasis on Jewishness inhibits the achievement of any victory that does not retain a Jewish majority. This is probably the major reason why Israel refuses to enter and crush Gaza, or even tolerates the P.A.
Were Israel to retake Gaza or the presently collapsing P.A., it would be faced with the addition of approximately 2-3 million Arabs under its control. It could not enfranchise these and remain a Jewish state. It cannot continue to disenfranchise them and remain democratic. It cannot let them go free and remain safe.
For example, the only way for Israel to crush Hamas is to take over Gaza, which demographically would be a disaster for Israel. What to do with these Gazans? There are no happy solutions.
During the 2014 War, M.K. Moshe Feiglin called for removal of the Gazans.
Knesset member: Retake Gaza, put civilians in 'tent camps[.]' ...
Likud MK Moshe Feiglin called for Israel to reconquer the Gaza Strip and for the military to set up tent encampments for Gaza civilians near the Sinai border, "until relevant emigration destinations are determined."
Give M.K. Feiglin some credit: he saw that there is no possibility of both peace and a Jewish state while there are Palestinians in Gaza. If Israel took over the Gaza Strip, she would be back to square one with an unassimilable population. If Israel did not take over the Gaza Strip, there would be cycles of war.
This is the essence of the issue.
A. Israel wants to maintain a Jewish majority.
B. It cannot do so with all these Arabs.
C. If it enfranchises all the Arabs, it will cease to be Jewish.
D. If it continues with these effective concentrations of Arabs in limited areas, it will continue to be scorned.
E. If it gives these Palestinians independence, they will arm for war.
The only solution would be removal. Those who accept removal would be tendered "generous" incentives, whatever that means. Those who do not accept removal would be driven out – or, as Martin Sherman puts it, "kinetic coercion," a thoroughly sanitized way of suggesting forced ethnic cleansing.
I have no problem with paying the Palestinians to leave; but I blanch at the idea of ethnic cleaning – and let's face it: that is what is being suggested – though it may be the only solution.
But here is where it gets silly. Where would they be removed to?
The Arabs will not take them. They want the problem to persist. South America would take some if they came with money, but I doubt they would take them if it was an issue of coercion. America would not take them. Europe seems to be nearing its fill of Arabs.
So where would they go?
This is the issue that almost no one addresses. It is one thing to get rid of the Palestinians, but where will you put them?
Some truly wacky ideas have been suggested, but none seems probable. All seem doomed to failure.
M.K. Lieberman is close to the truth, only one word off.
As a possible solution: May I suggest that the Arabs are now scared of Iran? U.S. support should be conditioned on their acceptance of noticeable numbers of Palestinians. Beyond that, I am as lost as everyone else.
Mike Konrad is the pen name of an American who wishes he had availed himself more fully of the opportunity to learn Spanish better in high school, lo those many decades ago. He runs a website about the Arab community in South America at http://latinarabia.com.