PALESTINIANS STAND next to a wall in Bethlehem..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The argument about how many Palestinians there are in the West Bank and Gaza is contaminated by politics. The Palestinians have numerous reasons to inflate their population claims, while many on the Jewish side are no less interested to understate them. There is a well-recorded global decline in Muslim birth rates, even in Iran, and in the West Bank as well. It has a lot to do with the level of women’s education, or access to information. No surprises there.But there are demagogic spins on our side, too. What is the big problem of the Israeli right and the settlement advocates whose real agenda is to annex the West Bank and reconstitute the “Greater Land of Israel?” It is: what to do with all those Arabs? They have no intention of granting them full civil rights, for example, the right to vote. So forget about Israeli democracy. And then forget about our ability to refute the libel that our situation here and apartheid are identical. The difference between them would be eroded to insignificance if we officially swallowed millions of Arabs while denying them political and civil rights.