The West Bank settlement of Ofra, north of Ramallah 370 Photo: ReutersNo one has a job over there… They are shooting at each other. There are drugs. They burn cars. Enough is enough.
– a Swedish citizen, cited in The New York Times, February 26, 2011, on the impact of Muslim immigration.
Lebanonization refers to the [situation] within a single country so riven with religious and other disputes that the country becomes impossible to govern.
– A.M. Rosenthal, cited by William Safire in the New York Times, April 21, 1991.
Two apparently unrelated events occurred over the past week or so.
The one was the publication of the second issue of the political journal Sovereignty by Women in Green and the Forum for Sovereignty, which carried various proposals for alternatives to the two-state paradigm that has dominated – or rather tyrannized – the public debate on the Palestinian question for almost a quarter century.
The other was a visit to Israel by two Scandinavian journalists (one Danish, the other Swedish), who gave a hair-raising account of the influence the massive Muslim migration into their countries is having on their societies at virtually every level.
Despite these two events being seemingly entirely unconnected, they are in closely linked, and Israelis – particularly opponents of the two-state principle – will ignore this at their peril.
Dire, disruptive, disintegrative
The two Nordic visitors presented a chilling picture of the dire, disruptive and even disintegrative effects “immigration” – the inoffensive, politically correct euphemism for the Islamic influx – is having on the societal fabric in their homelands, in Scandinavia in general and beyond.
Apart from the soaring incidence of violent crimes such as assault and robbery, the spiraling rates of sexual attacks have conferred on the once eminently safe Stockholm the dubious title of the “rape capital of Europe.”
Without getting into the nuances of statistical interpretation, and differences in cross-country comparisons of precisely what act constitutes which transgression, it is virtually indisputable that within Sweden, the steep increase in the Muslim population has been accompanied by a commensurately steep increase in rape and other violence-related offenses. (Clearly, these statistics cannot be dismissed as “racist,” unless one feels that statistics should be deemed a racist discipline.)
Similarly disturbing effects have afflicted Norway, where, according to some reports, the police are losing control of the capital, Oslo (poetic justice, some would say), and, reportedly, all the perpetrators of the ever-increasing sexual attacks had “immigrant” origins.
But these are not the only pernicious consequences that the growing Muslim presence has inflicted on the once placid and less “culturally diverse” Scandinavian nations. There are others, somewhat less “kinetic,” but no less corrosive to their long-standing culture, heritage and national character.
The first is the intimidation – indeed suppression – of any criticism of this delinquent conduct in terms of its clearly evident ethnic origins, with severe personal and professional punitive repercussions for anyone with the temerity to violate politically correct taboos. This of course has a withering effect on freedom of expression and on any ability to debate the phenomenon honestly and openly.
The other relates to the economic repercussions the presence of large Muslim populations has generated in culturally discordant host societies. The Scandinavian experience has shown that a wildly disproportionate share of the very generous welfare budget is spent on “immigrant” populations. Chronic joblessness is rife, with beneficiaries having little incentive to seek employment, which only seems to breed a growing expectation – and demand for – continued and enhanced benefits.
Perhaps most disturbing, instead of the societal discordance fading with the younger generations, indications are that the sense of hostility and entitlement only increase – even for domestically born Muslim youth.
Although there are some signs of stirring discontent among indigenous Scandinavians, there seems very little stomach among the descendants of the Vikings to effectively address the problem, much less to take the necessary steps to redress it.
The relevance for the sovereignty debate
The foregoing paragraphs are far from being a comprehensive analysis of the impact of growing Muslim presence in Nordic nations and in other EU countries even more affected by it, such as the Netherlands and France.
Nor was that the purpose. Rather, the intention was to illustrate the devastating effect even a relatively small proportion of Muslims can have on a tolerant, open liberal society once they become enfranchised citizens.
We should recall that although exact figures are hard to come by, estimates of the Muslim population in Sweden vary from about 4 percent-8%, and from 4%-5% in Denmark. Were this proportion to grow to 20% one can only imagine the ruinous consequences that it would have on the traditional way of life and the character of the Scandinavian nations.
This brings us to the debate that appeared in the second edition of the Sovereignty journal.
Let me say at the outset that the publication of the journal is itself an eminently laudable initiative, in that it underlines the need for concerted intellectual endeavor to break the stifling stranglehold that the two-state paradigm has had on the discourse regarding the Palestinian issue for more than two decades. It is a welcome enterprise that is long overdue.
That said, I have serious disagreements with several of the proposals that it carried for achieving this goal – precisely because they appear to disregard the lessons to be learned from the Scandinavian/European experiences.
Overcoming my sense of discomfort
Full disclosure – the journal carried an almost 2,000- word presentation of my tripartite proposal for an alternative prescription to the two-state principle, which I have called the “Humanitarian Paradigm” and have written on at length in a number of previous columns.
So while I am more than grateful to the editors for the ample exposure they have given my ideas, I find myself in the uncomfortable position of having to challenge some of the other proposals which appeared in the publication.
However, as this matter is of crucial importance for the future of the Zionist endeavor and the survival of Israel as the nation-state of the Jews, I feel duty-bound to overcome my sense of discomfort, and to attempt to drive home why some of the suggestions being raised are likely to be no less perilous than the failed formula they are intended to replace.
In this column, I have, over the past year and half, been at pains to point out the deadly flaws entailed in some well-intentioned proposals, advanced by usually insightful pundits, that are likely to precipitate outcomes that are no less calamitous than those of the two-state prescription – see “What’s wrong with the Right” – Parts I & II; “Preventing ‘Palestine,’” Parts I, II, III; “Annexing Area C: An open letter to Naftali Bennett”; and “Brain dead on the Right?”
It is thus more than a little depressing and disappointing to see the self-same self-defeating ideas raised insistently again and again.
Lebanonization of Israel?
As I cannot revisit in this article all the arguments set out previously, I shall focus on the most glaring flaws and faults.
Topping the list of bad ideas is the notion that, given the proven infeasibility of the two-state paradigm, Israel should extend its sovereignty over the entire area of Judea-Samaria and offer “immediate permanent residency to all its [Arab] Palestinian residents, as well as the right to apply for citizenship.” This is an approach so fraught with manifest disaster that it pains me that someone of the caliber of Caroline B. Glick, for whom I have the utmost regard and with whom I am seldom in disagreement, has chosen to advocate it.
The rationale allegedly underpinning this ill-conceived proposal is the new, optimistic demographic assessments suggesting that even if Israel were to enfranchise the Muslim population of Judea-Samaria, it would still retain a more than 60% Jewish majority.
Even if this upbeat forecast is correct, it does little to detract from the fatal folly of this proposal. For the issue is not merely demographic arithmetic, but the sociocultural fabric that would prevail in the wake of such a step.
An almost childlike naiveté is required to entertain the belief that Israel could sustain itself as a Jewish nation-state with a massive Muslim minority of almost 40% – as the societal havoc that far smaller proportions have wrought in Europe indicate.
For those who believe that Israel would adopt a far more robust and assertive policy than the Scandinavians in dealing with defiant challenges from its Muslim communities, the flaccid response to phenomena like illegal Arab construction in the Galilee or general lawlessness (from drug trafficking to polygamy) in the Negev leave ample scope for skepticism – if not downright pessimism.
The Lebanonization of Israel and the erosion of its Judeo-centric character seem a far more feasible prospect.
Flimsy, fanciful, far-fetched
Glick concedes that “providing the Palestinians with permanent residency and the right to apply for citizenship… will damage Israel on certain levels,” but contends that “it is absolutely clear that it is better than establishing a Palestinian state [which] would be the ruin of Israel.”
While I definitely endorse the latter statement, I strongly contest the former. After all, without wishing to understate the perils of a Palestinian state, they are at least, conceivably, reversible by coercive means, however remotely so, while those of a one-state configuration are not – or at least, are far more intractable.
Moreover, the feasibility of the envisioned processes by which an admitted potential demographic disaster is to be averted are at best flimsy, fanciful and farfetched.
It is far more plausible that they would precipitate precisely the opposite outcomes than those predicted.
As cited in Sovereignty, Glick feels that “the high rate of Arab emigration from Judea and Samaria, and the great potential for Jewish aliya (immigration) from Europe are clear indicators that time is on Israel’s side.”
However, nothing is more likely to bring Arab emigration to a shuddering halt than Israel “providing the Palestinians with permanent residency and the right to apply for citizenship.”
Likewise, nothing is more likely to have a more chilling effect on aliya than doubling the enfranchised (or potentially enfranchised) population of a (barely) Jewish state. It is far more likely to induce accelerated Jewish yerida (emigration).
Crushing socioeconomic burden
As I have underscored elsewhere, once the Arab population of Judea-Samaria was incorporated into Israel, it would siphon off massive resources to address yawning gaps between the societies on either side of the pre- 1967 Green Line in virtually every walk of life – in the status of women, law enforcement, welfare services, road safety, education and school curricula.
Merging the two populations in common citizenship would catapult Israel backwards from the status of a developed nation to a “developing” one, jeopardizing its membership in the OECD, and relegating it from a post-modern society to a pre-modern one in which many Jewish Israelis would rather not reside.
Accordingly, even under “benign” demographic assumptions, providing the Arabs of Judea-Samaria with citizenship would place an almost intolerable socioeconomic burden on the country – even if a formal Jewish majority could be maintained.
Look before you leap
This is far from an exhaustive list of why any policy that entails perpetuating the Palestinian Arab population within Israel’s final frontiers make it impossible – or at least highly improbable – for it to continue to function over time as the nation-state of the Jewish people.
Extending Jewish sovereignty over Judea-Samaria is imperative, but some proposals for doing so imperil Israel no less than the failed two-state formula.
This is why I have advanced my Humanitarian Paradigm, which addresses both imperatives – the geographic and demographic – that Israel must contend with to sustain itself as the nation-state of the Jewish people. If there are any other noncoercive alternatives that do so, I would be eager to hear them.
Martin Sherman (www.martinsherman.net) is the founder and executive director of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies. (www.strategic-israel.org)