Though the evacuation of the Jewish settlers in the Gaza Strip has stolen most of the attention of the Israeli media, another issue (and possible solutions to it) is much discussed in Israel and among its friends. I’m referring to the demographic so called “problem” or “threat” with too many non-Jews in the land under Israel’s control. A correspondent for The Jewish Journal, Larry Derfner commented on the issue:

“When Israeli Arabs protest that talk of the “demographic threat” is racist, can Israeli Jews blame them? If non-Jewish professors and politicians anywhere on earth spoke of a Jewish demographic threat to their countries, what would Jews call it? What, for that matter, would decent non-Jews call it?”[1]

He says that it is racism – “if you believe that Zionism is racism.” Unlike me, he does not consider it to be. However, I am not going discuss his claims more thoroughly here. Instead I want to clarify what Derfner really means when he speaks of a “demographic threat” to Israel. Haaretz reported in August that Jews perhaps constitute no more than 49 per cent of the total population in Israel and the occupied territories. Inside Israel the demographic situation is, of course, a lot different.

”Some 5.26 million Jews and 1.35 million Arabs, live in Israel today, according to figures published by Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS). In addition, there are 185,000 foreign workers and 290,000 non-Jews who immigrated under the Law of Return and are officially defined as ‘others.’ These immigrants are viewed by most of the public as Jewish, but are not recognized as such by the rabbinical establishment, and are not listed as Jews by the Interior Ministry.

Some 3.8 million Palestinians, including 1.4 million in the Gaza Strip, live in the territories, according to figures recently published by the PA’s central statistics bureau.

For the purposes of Haaretz’ probe, 230,000 Palestinians who are residents of East Jerusalem were deducted from the total, since they are counted as Israeli Arabs by the CBS.”[2]

Assuming that these statistics is fairly correct, we can easily conclude that there is about 1.825 million non-Jews in Israel, compared to 5.26 million Jews (including the settlers). Of 7 million people living in Israel, non-Jews constitute in total about 25% of the population. The question is: Why is Derfner and fellow Zionists so worried? One would think that a 75% majority would be enough to secure the future existence of the Jewish state, right? It apparently isn’t. Ariel Sharon has no good reason to be anxious about the number of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza – unless he plans to incorporate them into Israel.

This process is actually already ongoing in the Holy city of Jerusalem. The Israeli Parliament passed a Basic law in 1980 claiming that “Jerusalem, complete and united, is the capital of Israel.”[3]  By “complete and united,” they can mean nothing but including the Palestinian East Jerusalem. It has Israeli status and its citizens were granted Israeli citizenship to some extent (and apparently, they are counted as Israeli Arabs by the authorities). It is considered a vital and highly important part of the state of Israel.

Sharon is planning on doing the same to the West Bank, otherwise there wouldn’t be any “threat” to talk about. There is a reason why he is expanding the Jewish settlements. If security was Israel’s primary concern, the settlements would be built on the Israeli side of the Green line, not the Palestinian. In an excellent article in The Guardian, Avi Shlaim concluded:

“Sharon decided to cut his losses in Gaza when he realised that the cost of occupation is not sustainable. Gaza is home to 8,000 Israeli settlers and 1.3 million Palestinians. The settlers control 25% of the territory, 40% of the arable land and most of the water. This is a hopeless colonial enterprise, accompanied by one of the most prolonged and brutal military occupations of modern times.”[4]

Shlaim quotes Sharon saying, “My plan is difficult for the Palestinians, a fatal blow. There’s no Palestinian state in a unilateral move.” That’s right, it isn’t. By leaving Gaza and isolating its population through a “security fence” for approximately 220 million USD, Sharon is pursuing his goal of colonizing and annexing the West Bank. In his own words, the evacuation of the Jewish settlers from the Gaza Strip took place in order to strengthen the Jewish presence “in Galilee and the Negev, Greater Jerusalem, the settlement blocs and the security zones.”[5]  Turning Gaza into a prison and ‘Judaizing’ the West Bank is a way of preventing the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.

Israel could have gone for a two-state solution long ago. It failed to, and instead decided to continue the brutal occupation. Of course, Sharon knows that terrorizing a whole people will not improve Israel’s security. He is well-aware that shutting off their water from time to time will not prevent terrorism. He wants to create an insufferable situation so that the Palestinians one day will “deliberately” leave their homes. There still is a Jewish majority if we include the whole West Bank in Israel, but only by about 56%. Here is where his problem lies – in the West Bank.

Reality has forced the Zionists out of Gaza. If they are really unlucky, they might have to surrender parts of the West Bank too. But despite this, the Zionist dream of all of Palestine without Palestinians lives on, as it has for over a hundred years now.

Kristoffer Larsson

[1] A Solution to Israel’s Demographic Peril, by Larry Derfner; The Jewish Journal 22/07/05;

[2] For first time, Jews no longer a majority in pre-pullout Israel; Haaretz online 11/08/05

[3] Basic Law: Jerusalem, Capital of Israel;

[4] Withdrawal is a prelude to annexation, by Avi Shlaim; The Guardian 22/06/05;,10551,1511839,00.html

[5] Arik’s Horror Show, by Uri Avnery; IMEMC 03/07/05;