A Modest Proposal
Our President-elect’s selection of David Friedman as the next U.S. ambassador to Israel represents to many the nail in the coffin of the two-state solution, and thus poses the inevitable Demographic Question that torments the Israeli polity: if there is to be One State between the river and the sea, how will the Palestinians of the occupied Palestinian territories be integrated – or not – into the Jewish state? Will they have equal voting rights? With similar numbers of Jews and Palestinians currently living in the future One State, and Palestinian fertility rates considerably higher than that of Jewish Israelis, at some point Palestinian voters would outnumber Jewish voters. In such a scenario, how could Israel remain a democratic and Jewish State? Will Israel have to choose between theocracy and democracy?
Well, Israel’s theocrats could take a page from our Constitution: the original version, Article 1, Section 2, Paragraph 3, which reads:
Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.
The deal cut with Southern slaveholding states augmented their representation in the House of Representatives and the Electoral College by granting their chattel three-fifths of citizen status, for the purpose of determining population size. Of course, Israeli theocrats could opt for the other option offered by this clause: considering Palestinians as equivalent to the “Indians not taxed” who are excluded from the head count. But consider the elegance of Israel’s adopting the “three-fifths solution”: Palestinian citizens of the Jewish State would still get to vote, but their votes would only comprise 60% of the Jewish vote. And if, due to shifting demographics, the Palestinian population should surge too far ahead of the Jewish population, why the three-fifths proportion could just be adjusted downward, as needed. Another benefit: what to do with, e.g., Israeli citizens who might have one Jewish and one Palestinian parent? Simple: just divide their votes by two. Problem solved!