The Conversation

Israel Faces Twin Threats in Kerry and Obama

Secretary of State John Kerry told the Saban Forum in Washington, DC on Saturday that Israel faced two existential threats: a nuclear Iran and the "demographic time bomb" that supposedly awaits Israel if it fails to make peace with the Palestinians. Arguably, however, the two worst threats to Israel today are Kerry and his boss, President Barack Obama, whose policy towards Israel is based on two factually incorrect assumptions.

Kerry's "demographic time bomb" is a myth, beloved by the radicals of J Street, the Israeli left, the New York Times opinion page, and of course the Palestinian Authority. It maintains that unless Israel withdraws from the West Bank, the Arab population in the region will soon overtake the Jewish population, forcing Israel to give up either its democratic system or its Jewish identity. But the "demographic time bomb" does not actually exist.

For one thing, Palestinian demographic statistics have been highly exaggerated--for precisely the purpose to which they are now being used, i.e. to pressure Israel to make concessions. For another, the Jewish birthrate is accelerating while the Arab birthrate, while still higher, is declining. And finally, the disengagement from Gaza in 2005, flawed though it was, ended any prospect of Arabs overtaking Jews within territory Israel controls. 

Obama brought a falsehood of his own to the Saban Forum: namely, the idea that Israel should make peace with the Palestinians because the would encourage Palestinian economic growth, which would discourage terror. Yet the Palestinian economy has been growing in the West Bank despite Israeli occupation. It also grew prior to the first intifada in 1987. It turns out that when Israel feels secure--deal or no deal--the Palestinians do pretty well.

So the two would-be statesmen pushing Israel to give up more land in a hurry are doing so using two fallacies. Worse, they are actually promoting the very threats they describe: the nuclear deal in Iran allows the regime to continue enriching uranium, and Kerry's recent warnings about a "third intifada" could only serve to encourage the most radical Palestinians. The only thing worse than Obama and Kerry's ignorance is their mendacity.


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