By Prof. Dr. Mohsen Mohammad Saleh:
The Israeli entity is celebrating its 59th establishment anniversary, whereas the Palestinians are commemorating the same anniversary with sadness, pain, and hopes of freedom and return.
The Zionist project was built on the idea of the immigration of Jews from around the world to Palestine and the displacement of the Palestinians and seizing their property and land. However, after all this time, do the Zionists in Palestine really feel that their project and its future are safe, at least from a demographic point of view?
The Immigration of Jews and the exodus of Palestinians
When the British fully occupied Palestine in 1918 and directly began to supervise the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine, the number of Jews in Palestine was about 50,000, i.e. 8% of the total population, while the bulk remaining 92% of population was the Arabs living in Palestine.
During thirty years of British embracement and protection of the Zionist project, 483 thousand Jews immigrated to Palestine. When the 1948 war broke out, the number of Jews in Palestine was estimated by 650 thousand, i.e. 31.9% of the total population. As for the Palestinians, their total reached 1.39 millions, i.e. 68.1% of the total population. At the time, the Jews only controlled 6% of the Palestinian land.
When the U.N resolution 242 stating that the Palestinian land would be divided, was issued in 1947, it gave, despite its unfairness, the Jews control of 54% of Palestine. The Jews then found themselves facing the fact that the area in which about 500 thousand Jews lived was also inhabited by 497 thousand Arabs. They also had to face the fact that the number of Arabs would outnumber the number of Jews in just a few years (theoretically supposing there wouldn’t be a war) making it impossible to establish a Jewish state.
Consequently, the Zionists solved this “demographic problem” by executing one of the most brutal massacring and ethnic cleansing operations of the 20th century, thus attaining control of 77% of the Palestinian land and displacing about 800 thousand Palestinians, who were living on the land assigned to the Israeli state by the resolution or yet worse on the lands the Israelis seized (in both cases, the Palestinians were original population living in their own land). This means the main element of establishing a Jewish state wasn’t the Israeli immigration as much as it was an operation of uprooting and displacing the Palestinians from their land.
By the end of 1948, the Zionists had reorganized the social and demographic structure of the land on which they established their Israeli entity, so that its population reached 872 thousands, of whom 716 thousands were Jewish (82.2%) and 156 thousands were Arabs (18.8%).
The Zionist expansion theory was founded on the “more land, less Arabs” thumb rule, and on the idea of “swallow and digest”, meaning clearing the land of its Arab population, displacing them in accordance with the Jewish immigration, so that the Jews would occupy the place of the Arabs.
This is what Israel tried to do after the 1967 war, when it, again, displaced more than 300 thousand Palestinians and officially added Jerusalem and Golan to its territory. It also began a vicious settlement drive, in which it built more than 160 settlements that house more than 460 thousand Jewish settlers.
The Depletion of the Jewish Immigration
Despite its “achievements”, the Zionist project still faces a number of demographic challenges, the most prominent being the fear of the depletion of the Jewish immigration to Palestine. The Zionist entity was able to bring in about 2.9 million Jewish immigrants to Palestine between 1948 and 2006, by which it maintained an overwhelming Jewish majority in Israel.
The main source for Israel’s Jewish immigrants in the period immediately following its establishment was the Arab and Islamic world, especially in the 1950’s. Then, the number of Jews in Palestine multiplied in only three years (1948 and 1951), with the immigration of 687 thousand Jews, of whom 442 thousands came from Arab and Muslim countries.
The immigration of the “Arab Jews” has contributed to providing human capital and labor force that established the existence of the Hebrew state and provided its early elements of growth and protection.
Despite the conspiracies plotted to deport the Arab Jews and the involvement of some Arab regimes in that, the Arab Jews population formed one of the pillars of the Zionist project.
With the early 1960s, the Arab Jews source of immigrants to Israel was depleting. Noteworthy is that the official Israeli statistics for the year 2005, indicated the existence of 493 thousand Moroccan Jews, 293 thousand Iraqi Jews, 142 thousand Yemeni Jews, 122 thousand Tunisian and Algerian Jews, 69 thousand Libyan Jews, 57 thousand Egyptian Jews, 36 thousand Syrian and Lebanese Jews, not to mention the Jews in Turkey, Iran, and other countries.
After the dismantling of the Soviet Union, the Zionists turned to the massive Jewish populations there and in East Europe. Between 1989 and the end of 2006, 1.224 million Jews immigrated to Israel, most of whom were from these countries. It was obvious that the momentum of immigration from Russia and east Europe began to slow down towards the last couple of years, because the total average of immigrants to Israel was between 20 and 25 thousands a year, whereas it was approaching the 100 thousands average a year during the previous decade.
The Zionists also faced the problem of the Jews living in the US (about 5.7 million) and West Europe (600 thousand in France and 300 thousand in Britain), who didn’t want to immigrate to Israel because of their good financial statuses.
For this reason, the policy focused on attracting the Flasha Jews from Ethiopia, while also some talks arouse claiming the existence of a Jewish tribe in India. However, the truth is that the bringing of Jews to Palestine has reached, or is close to reaching, its end.
The Problem of Reproduction
The second demographic fear lies in the weak reproduction percentages among the Jews compared to the Palestinians. The annual increase rate of Jews in Palestine is 1.85%, which is almost half that of the Palestinians’ 3.4%.
The Jewish woman gives birth to an average of 2.6 children (26 children per 10 women) while Palestinian woman’s average is 4.2 children (42 children per 10 women).
The figures of the Palestinian Center of Statistics indicate that the total fertility rate of Palestinian woman, has decreased from 5.6 children in 1997 to 4.1 children in 2003. The rate in the Gaza Strip has decreased from 6.9 to 5.8 during the same period of time.
Some researchers question the reasons of this decrease, while others like Youssef Kerbaj and Salman Abu Sitta consider it a very rare case.
Abu Sitteh doesn’t exclude the possibility that Israel uses secret biological weapons which aim to decrease the number of Palestinians. He supports his argument with newspaper articles talking about cases of collective feinting and hysteria among school girls, victims of the inhalation of poison gases and reports by the Palestinian Department of Health about the unprecedented increase of miscarriages and cancer. Until this has been proven to be either true or false, this issue will continue to remain questioned.
Despite this, the Palestinian rate of population increase continues to outnumber that of the Israelis.
According to predictions, the number of Palestinians in historical Palestine (Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip) will begin to outnumber the number of Jews in 2010, making the population of both the Jews and the Palestinians about 5.6 million for each.
As for the year 2020, it is predicted, according to the same Israeli statistics, that the number of Palestinians will reach 8.2 millions and the Jewish population will be 6.3 millions.
The Zionists viewed the increase in the number of Palestinians as a big concern and called it a “demographic bomb”. This description is flawed because it begrudges on the Palestinians their natural reproduction process on their own land, considering it a threat; while the Zionists find it acceptable for themselves to bring in Jews from 110 different countries who speak 82 different languages in order to have a number 9 times more the number of Jews in Israel since it has been established.
The fear of the demographic danger resulting from the Palestinians is one of the reasons that pushed Israel to consider the unilateral withdrawal option and one of the reasons that led to the increased call among Israeli extremists for the expulsion of the Palestinians from the territories occupied in 1948, or what is called the “transfer idea”.
The “transfer idea” is, without a doubt, one of the reasons for putting the Gaza Strip and West Bank in such harsh, unbearable conditions, in order to force the greatest number of Palestinians possible to emigrate.
The idea of a unilateral disengagement, which was adopted by Sharon and on the basis of which the currently ruling Kadima party was established and consider fundamental, is based on getting rid of the burden of the Palestinian populations in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and keeping the greatest amount of land, especially the settlement blocs and territories behind the separation wall and Jerusalem.
This is accompanied by the Israeli fear of the Palestinians no longer asking for the idea of two states once they become the majority, but that they will ask for their own country with their political and civil rights; seek the removal of the racist Israeli regime which favors the Jews apart from others; and struggle in the same way the black Africans in South Africa did. This may make way for ending the Jewish nature of the Israeli state within internationally accepted rules and regulations (even if they were only theoretically adopted by the international community).
However, this option is accompanied by a number of obstacles and complications, especially since the essence of the problem isn’t convincing the international community of the justice of the Palestinian cause, as it has, till now obtained hundreds of supportive international resolutions. The essence of the problem lies in the lack of will in the international community to execute the resolutions and give the Palestinians their rights, due to the American and western positions.
The Palestinian Refugees’ Right of Return
The UN agreed to the membership of Israel on the condition that it allows the Palestinian refugees their right to return. However, Israel hasn’t allowed this to happen at all, even though the resolution concerning the right to return has been reissued more than a hundred times!
Simply put, the execution of this resolution, in the opinion of the Israelis, meant the end of the Zionist project and the Jewish state because if the Palestinians return to the land, they will form the majority of the population and will gain control of the country through any fair democratic elections. For this reason, perhaps negotiations about Jerusalem were easier for the Jews than negotiating the right to return of the Palestinians.
According to statistics, the number of Palestinians originally from the territories occupied in 1948, who have been displaced has reached about 5.3 millions.
If the Palestinians who had left returned and were added to the Palestinians who remained in Israel, i.e. to 1.150 million, then the total number of Palestinians would reach 6.450 millions compared to 5.450 million Jews (according to the final statistics of 2006), i.e. 54.4% of the population is Palestinians and 45.6% is Jews.
This is the reason why the Israelis do not deal with the issue of the return of the Palestinians to their land as a political or negotiable issue that can be resolved in accordance with the international law or human rights. Instead, they consider it an issue of existence because the existence of their entity was based on canceling out the Palestinian entity and the possibility of return for the Palestinians means the Zionist project would be cancelled, even if all the Jews remained in Palestine.
The Palestinian refugees will still be the living victims who haunt the Zionist project as long as they fight for their rights because the right of return is an individual right for each and every refugee. It is a sacred right, as well as being a right that can be granted if viewed from the point of view that the land can contain all the refugees. Another point is that most of the villages from which the refugees left are still empty. The right of return is also demanded by the international laws and the UN resolutions. So, the only reason this right has been delayed is because the balance of power is tilted in favor of the Israelis who are supported by the US.
The Reverse Immigration
The Zionist project also has another demographic problem relating to the reverse immigration, that is emigration, of Jews out of Israel. Estimations that were published in October 2006 show that between 700-750 thousand Israelis live outside of Israel, 60% of whom live in North America and 25% in west Europe.
The data from the Israeli embassy in Moscow points out that 50 thousand Russians who immigrated to Israel in the last decade, have returned to Russia.
The Palestinian Intifada and the security issues have played a major role in the immigration of those people. Economic problems and little faith in the Zionist project has also had an effect which made those people look for better job opportunities and happier lives.
The objective of this article was to point out some of the population problems that the Zionist project is suffering from. However, we shouldn’t bet on these problems alone because the essence of the conflict with the Zionist project isn’t in the number of inhabitants or the reproduction rate since the number of Arabs is about 300 million and there are about 1.5 billion Muslims.
Mainly, the problem lies in the ability of the Palestinians, Arabs, and Muslims to establish a solid common work ground that can stimulate the people and unleash their will, mobilize their potential and unite their efforts. Unless this is done, they will continue to be nothing but weak people.
This article is a translation of the arabic article published by Dr. Mohsen Moh’d Saleh on Aljazeera.Net on 22-6-2007
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