Photo: AFP
Protestor in Nave Dekalim waves the Israeli flag in Gaza
Photo: AFP

It’s crowded around here

Israel must stop being shy of talking about its love and need for its own land

On the eve of the Jewish New Year, the Central Bureau of Statistics always publishes the latest figures regarding Israel’s population, its composition, and its distribution.


This year, the reporters even gave us the bottom line: It’s crowded around here. Indeed, Israel is one of the most crowded countries in the world.


This fact wasn’t a military secret before, but until now it wasn’t politically correct to talk about Jewish population density, because the most common and baseless cliché that accompanies the disengagement’s public relations campaign was that “the Gaza Strip is the most crowded place in the world.”


Whoever knows the Gaza Strip knows that up until a decade ago there were almost no high-rises there. Today, there are hundreds of such buildings in Gaza City, Khan Younis, and Rafah, and still, their number is slim compared to any western city.


Indeed, the overwhelming majority of Gaza residents lives in houses, which regardless of being small and located in narrow alleys, clearly cannot create the world’s highest population density.


Yet this cliché was important in order to make us sick and tired of Gaza. But now, after the destruction of Jewish settlements there, we are allowed to find out that not the Gaza Strip, but rather, central Israel is one of the most densely population areas in the world. In fact, it is four or five times more crowded than the Gaza Strip, and by the way, it’s not a bad place to live in.


But even now that we’re allowed to say that it’s very crowded around here, it’s still not nice to seriously consider the implication of this figure, and we certainly mustn’t mention the primitive conclusion that stems from it: The Jews don’t have enough land.


Their country is so small, that in most world maps Israel’s name is written on the sea, because it’s not big enough to accommodate six letters.


In fact, it’s truly despicable to demand that the land-poor Jewish people to forego a large part of its land, its single prized possession. And in favor of who? In favor of the Arab nation, which has so much land, and extends across 22 countries, from the Persian Gulf to the Atlantic Ocean.


Politically incorrect


But it is not considered politically correct to say so, because the word ‘land’ has been removed from the enlightened Hebrew vocabulary. It’s a primitive word, associated with land and warfare. Whoever dares to bring it up is stigmatized as a worshipper of idols, one who bows down rocks and graves. Unless, of course, we are talking about Arabs, whose view of land as sacred is completely legitimate, and even worthy of respect.


Jews are allowed to speak of ‘border adjustments,’ because we have security needs, water issues, transportation grids, and plane routes. But under no circumstances must we have, God forbid, respect for the land.


But the truth is primitive and all penetrating, like the sound of the shofar heralding in the new year: We don’t have enough land. We can’t allow ourselves to generously give up on territory, because Israel is one of the most crowded countries in the world. In terms of territory, the Jewish nation is one of the poorest in the world.


True, the Palestinians are also poor, but if you take a few crumbs from a poor man and give it to beggar, you haven’t solved the problem of poverty.


This is especially true if it turns out that the beggar is the brother of Bill Gates.


We make up about two and a half percent of the Middle Eastern population. We don’t even have a quarter of a percent of the land in the Middle East.


If Abraham were to come and say, “Yitzhak and Ishmael my sons, you are brothers, stop fighting one another, and divide the land among yourselves fairly, and in proportion to the population size,” the Arab nation would have to give us back lands about ten times the size of the State of Israel.


If justice is our guiding principle, most of this should remain in the hands of the poor Jewish nation. And if our image in the world matters to us, we better start talking about our precious and holy land, and not about interests and theories with which cause us to sound like we are taking the land of someone else. The world understands what land is. Only the Jews think they can’t talk about it.


פרסום ראשון: 09.30.05, 19:08
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