Sunday, March 7, 2010

Demographic Fears

Statistics aren't for everyone, and neither are the nuanced motivations of professional journalism. Take this story from the English version of Israel's daily Yediot Aharonot, headlined "Demographics: Arabs are majority in north". Now that's a headline worthy of national panic! Will the Arabs of Israel's North demand autonomy, sovereign statehood, even? Will the IDF be forced to fight an insurrection through the ancient streets of Nazareth? It's only after one gets into the story that such "geschmack" is stripped away...
The statistics show that Arabs already hold a majority of northern residents with 53% of the north, excluding Haifa, being Arab.
Say, what? So, excluding Israel's third largest city, with a population of around 270,000 people, 80% of them Jews (that's 216,000), the Arabs constitute 53% of the North's countryside. And if you include Haifa in those calculations, what will the total balance in the North be? Perhaps closer to 60-70% Jewish, but the article leaves this out.

I once told an Arab friend that I don't fear Palestinian children. Every child born - Arab, Jew or Korean - is a (stinky) treasure. I love kids - their curiosity, their innocence, their potential. I've always found something beautiful in every child I've met - they're just so damn cute you wanna pinch 'em until they cry - which is why I'm studying to enter pediatrics. What I fear are not children, but their grown up uncles, and the assortment of knives, rocks, guns and bombs they've assembled, with which to kill me, my family and my people. To deny this threat, to wave it off with a flick of the wrist, is to reject the ugly truth of Jewish life in the Levant.

Beyond raw numbers, beyond humanist ideals, there is a hard reality to a young society of Jews in its first century of nation-building post two thousands years of death and dispersions, among three hundred million Arabs. It is wrong to cast this as a war of demographics - it is a war of peoples, a war of narratives and values. So long as the Arabs wish to exterminate the national project of the Jewish people, only the resolve to resist, backed not by opportune morality or fickle international law, but by a somber force of will and arms, and yes, babies too, ensures survival and success. Such is the way of the world, and let G-d handle the rest.

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