Photo: Tomeriko
Who cares if they are the majority?
Photo: Tomeriko

Demographic threat is racist lie

Yoram Ettinger, Arnon Sofer are demographic scare mongers

A lot of us have "outie" belly buttons. It's hard to tell just who they are, they usually cover the them up with clothes.


But don't think for a minute that they are like you just because they look like you. You've got a nice, elegant "innie," whereas they've got "outies."


Minority belly buttons, in other words.


But don't fool yourselves. The outies are gaining on us, they are cunning and devious, and one day they will outnumber us.


We've calculated it. We've got statistics and scientific methods, and we've got the "innies" to prove we're right.


And so, in the year 2020 – yes, yes, right around the corner – there will be more outies between the river and the sea than innies. Don't say I didn't warn you.


Stubborn categorization 


There are a lot of folks walking around with notebooks and calculators, with only one desire: to stubbornly categorize and count people like you do with any category. To compare statistics between one census and the next, to update birth and mortality rates, to closely chart population movements and to carefully document the changing proportions between the two groups.


They count and count, and warn. Take Yoram Ettinger and Arnon Sofer, for example.


Arnon Sofer loves to count Jews, almost as much as he loves counting Arabs. Usually, he presents threatening predictions about the shrinking "Jewish majority" and the growing Arab population, and ends off with a warning, something like, "If we don't do something about it, pretty soon – we'll be gone."


But why doesn't he count people with "outies"? Is an Arab majority more dangerous than an outie majority? Anyone claiming that the character of our democratic regime depends on such characteristics is missing something very basic.


Anyone debating whether 300,000 Palestinians have infiltrated eastern Jerusalem over the last decade, or whether the number is really "only" 150,000 has cast a racist pall over the very basics of the debate.


That is to say, he has removed the debate from the realm of democracy.


Why feel threatened?


What, exactly, would be lost the day we lost our Jewish majority? Arnon Sofer doesn't say. To each his own nightmares.


Some speak about the end of the "Jewish nature" of the country. But this is absurd. Even now, according to Sofer's numbers, 42 percent of Israel's residents, including the Territories, are Palestinian. Their influence on the "Jewish nature" of the country is negligible, unless discrimination and racism are considered "Jewish."


A fifth of Israeli citizens are Arab. Do they get a fifth of the land available for building, a fifth of the country's education and infrastructure resources, a fifth of available public funds? Of course not.


The most obvious discrimination against them has gone on for decades, even in areas where they are the majority.


3.7 live under occupation, with no rights whatsoever. Once the West Bank security fence is completed and the West Bank is divided into isolated patches of land, it wouldn't appear too difficult to maintain the occupation for many years.


Another million Arabs, a million less - the system doesn't rely on numbers. Anyone who has witnessed the ease with which two soldiers can control dozens of downtrodden Palestinians at a roadblock understands that numbers have nothing to do with the game.


There are two underlying assumptions to the demography mongers fury, one untrue and one anti-democratic.


Abysmal racism 


The fear of that fateful day in 2020 upon which there will be equal numbers of Arabs and Jews in Israel suggests the system of government in Israel reflects the ethnic pluralism of the country's residents, as if the moment the Arabs become 50 percent of the country's population, then everything here will magically change.


This is simply untrue: If we can treat 20 percent of the country's citizenry as if they represented less than one percent, it shouldn't be a problem to treat half of them as if they were no more than one or two percent.


The second assumption is that the role of democracy is to strengthen the rights of the majority. In fact, the reverse is true (according to the language used by America's founding fathers in that country's constitution): to protect minority rights from potential tyranny of the majority.


According to those who wave the demographic threat, as long as Jews are the majority there is no reason to worry about the Arab minority. We're the majority, not the minority.


The deep fear of Arnon Sofer and those like him is that when the Arabs become a majority, they will treat the Jewish minority just like they were treated as a minority: with discrimination and racism.


If they had even the slightest loyalty to democracy – other than paying lip-service to the principle of majority rules – they would be working, starting now, to reverse all forms of anti-Arab discrimination. Or then they would have no basis to fear the day in which the demographic scales tip the other way.


A perfect Israel


How would your average Israeli demographer describe a perfect Israel? Lots and lots of Jews, just a few Arabs. What does he care? He's only dealing with numbers and charts, not with people.


Does he really care if the Jews in his perfect Israel suffer from abysmal racism towards all non-Jews? Apparently not.


As long as they are Jews, as long as they fall on the right side of the table, all will be forgiven. Just cover up that bellybutton.


פרסום ראשון: 02.14.06, 12:54
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