September 22, 2003


Weapon of mass population (SUSAN TAYLOR MARTIN, September 21, 2003, St. Petersburg Times)

In the struggle between Israelis and Palestinians, Thuraya Eshbear wields a powerful weapon.


At 35, this wisp of a woman has 13 children, from 20 years down to 10 months. Though she can't afford to school them all, though she rarely has a minute to herself, she would gladly bear more.

"I have many children so that the Palestinian people will have more than the Israelis," says Eshbear, a $37-a-week cleaner in the maternity ward of Gaza City's biggest hospital. Here, on any given day, dozens of other Palestinian women are doing their part to ensure ultimate victory over Israel.

It is a war fought not just with F-16s and suicide bombers, but with diapers and Similac.

Ever since Israel was created in 1948, starting a clash with the Arab world that has no end in sight, Jews have feared what Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat calls his "biological bomb." In Israel and the neighboring territories of Gaza and the West Bank, Arabs are reproducing at a rate double that of Jews.

Israel's 5.4-million Jews make up just more than half of the region's population, but Arabs will become a clear majority within 20 years, Haifa University professor Arnon Soffer says. By 2020, the area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea will be home to 8.5-million Arabs and just 6.4-million Jews.

Unless Palestinians get their own state, the soaring Arab population could mean one of two things: Israel would cease to exist as a Jewish nation or it would be forced into an apartheid-like system in which a Jewish minority ruled a Palestinian majority.

The American South in the Jim Crow era was freer than most countries and South Africa was a vital ally and in some senses a model Western nation, but at some point the apartheid contradiction overwhelms all else. You retain the physical capacity to impose the system, but the will falters. Given that Israel and Jews are almost universally despised anyway--with rare, though important, exceptions like the U.S.--how long could it realistically maintain its oppression, even if justified, in the face of global opprobrium?

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 22, 2003 2:56 PM

Of course, one big reason the Palestinians can sustain this large and growing population is that their entire society has, in effect, been on welfare since 1948. If the UN, EU and the various Arab states cut them off the dole, they might have to do some productive, self-supporting work, instead of just killing Jews, having demonstrations, and having more babies than they can support.

Posted by: PapayaSF at September 22, 2003 3:21 PM


You gonna hold your breath waiting for that to happen?

Posted by: oj at September 22, 2003 3:36 PM

Ha, no. Purely a thought experiment.

Posted by: PapayaSF at September 22, 2003 4:11 PM

Haven't we figured out yet that mere numbers are not a strength, but rather an impediment? A modern armed force goes through a more numerous opponent as a hot knife through butter. Numbers simply mean logistic burden without significantly increased combat power--we're not fighting with pitchforks, you know. Who cares how many bodies face our weapons? This issue will not be resolved by speeches and majority votes, but by Arab blood and Israeli iron.

Posted by: Lou Gots at September 22, 2003 5:49 PM

Lou, remember that a prime Palestinian demand is the "right of return": that all the Palestinians who left/were expelled from Israel in '48, and their descendants, be allowed to move into Israel proper. If they get that and are allowed to vote, they can more or less vote the country out of existence, regardless of superior Israeli technology.

Posted by: PapayaSF at September 22, 2003 5:57 PM

Lou, if Israel had the will to spill the blood of millions of Palestinians, they could have resolved this issue years ago. It won't happen unless/until the Palestinians start using WMD.

Posted by: pj at September 22, 2003 6:10 PM

Any hope for the right of return died at Camp David in 2000. No matter how much Israel hesitates now, the Palestinians will never get it. The issue for Palestinian poverty will become acute as their welfare money dries up.

Posted by: jim hamlen at September 22, 2003 7:25 PM

Mr. Gots;

The primary problem is that the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is not a war where superiour technology can be used to overcome numeric disparity. My understanding of OJ's position is that he supports a Palestinian state precisely because it would bring about the situation where Israel could use its superiour military as a superior military and not an inadequate police force.

Sadly, I think PJ has the right of it, that Israel lacks the will do act on that option.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at September 22, 2003 11:22 PM

Isn't the wall going to bring about a de facto Palestinian state ?

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at September 24, 2003 2:30 AM



It may just create Warsaw Ghettos.

Posted by: oj at September 24, 2003 8:29 AM