The “demographic” argument for a two-state solution is the expressed fear that Jews will become a minority in Israel, and so the “Jewish people” will lose a claim to sovereignty.
It is explicitly a racial argument about Jews being overwhelmed by Palestinian births, or voters, and it is one that ought to be very hard to advance in mainstream U.S. forums. The scholar Ian Lustick lately confessed his shame at making the demographic argument for a two-state solution. It was a “deal with the devil,” Lustick said. “My mother would not approve.”
Well– here are two leading American Zionist organizations that consider themselves enlightened but that have recently advanced that unseemly argument.
First, Israel Policy Forum issued a report in February on possible outcomes of the conflict signed by purported liberal Americans – Obama ambassador Dan Shapiro wrote the foreword, Shira Efron and Evan Gottesman wrote the report– that says it is “important” to consider whether Palestinians are becoming a majority in the land between the river and the sea, and in Israel itself, and offered observations of Jewish and Palestinian “fertility” rates as if that’s an acceptable way to look at things.
These liberals warn that even a substantial minority of Palestinians inside Israel will “jeopardize” the country.
Whether and when the Palestinians become a majority is an important question, but Israel’s ability to retain its credentials as a Jewish and democratic state would be jeopardized even if the Palestinians only become a substantial minority. The proposals to annex parts or all of the West Bank, could add 2.6 million Palestinians to Israel’s population. If they become equal citizens, they would command immense political power, making up almost 40% of the population and changing Israel’s Jewish character.
Imagine saying that people of color jeopardize the character of the United States…. What would that make you?
Then this weekend the American Jewish Committee hosted David Horovitz of the Times of Israel for a webtalk in which he explained that he and Benjamin Netanyahu support a Palestinian state if it has no real powers to threaten Israel. And guess what, the threat is not just military but “demographic.”
A viable two state solution, a secure two-state solution, a two-state solution that does not threaten Israel’s demographic and security interests– I think that should be a goal for us…
I think Netanyahu would say, the problematics of a two state solution is the rigidity of the notion of statehood, and he would argue, If a state for the Palestinians is an entity that cannot threaten us militarily or demographically, you will find me ready to partner the Palestinans toward that kind of state. But he would add the caveat, That the definitions internationally accepted, he would say, are such that — no, I cannot in the forseeable future partner Palestinians to statehood on that basis.”
Horovitz may be saying that partition must be done in such a way that Israel is left with as many Jews and as few Palestinians as possible. More likely, he is talking about the return of refugees to Palestine– that the numbers have to be limited so they don’t overwhelm Israeli Jews numerically.
His argument echoes Jewish leaders of Israel who have long sought a “strong” Jewish majority; and have resorted to ethnic cleansing to achieve that. And by the way, Palestinians already equal or outnumber Jews if you include the occupied territories– about 6.5 million each.
It’s amazing that these arguments are considered kosher. But Israel advocates regularly make them, in liberal American circles! I’ll never forget Ali Abunimah’s speech saying that the biggest threat to Zionism is… Palestinian babies.. Well, the Zionists bear him out.