Thursday, 24 June 2010

The future of Israel looks dim

By Linda S. Heard

Indeed, international lawyer and author Franklin Lamb told Press TV of the existence of a CIA study that predicts Israel may not survive for more than 20 years.

This prediction is apparently due to “an inexorable movement away from a two-state to a one-state solution, as the most viable model based on democratic principles of full equality that sheds the looming specter of colonial apartheid, while allowing for the return of the 1947/1948 and 1967 refugees. The latter being the precondition for sustainable peace in the region.”

According to Lamb, the CIA concludes that all Palestinian refugees presently living outside the occupied territories will return home, while millions of Israelis will pack up and move to the US, Russia and Europe. Lamb says the report has been seen by a limited number of individuals. But, frankly, unless it reaches the public domain and is checked for authenticity, it should be taken with a pinch of salt. However, even if the study turns out to be nothing more than a figment of a wishful thinker’s imagination, its broad message does hold some water.

First, a growing number of Middle East experts now believe a two-state solution is no longer viable given Israel’s continuing land-grab in East Jerusalem slated to be the capital of a Palestinian state and its unremitting expansion of Jewish colonies on the West Bank. Palestinian Authority negotiator Saeb Ereket has proposed this option and, in 2007, when Palestinians were asked whether they would support or oppose “a one-state solution in historic Palestine where Muslims, Christians and Jews have equal rights and responsibilities,” some 70 percent responded in favor.

Secondly, Israel is beset with a serious problem of demographics. As each year passes, Jews come closer to being a minority within the Jewish state when combined with the occupied territories. Jewish Israelis currently make up three-quarters of Israel’s 7.3 million inhabitants (approximately 5.6 million) while non-Jews number around 1.7 million. The latter figure added to the 2.5 million non-Jews living on the West Bank equals a non-Jewish population in Israel and the West Bank numbering some 4.2 million.

If Ariel Sharon hadn’t decided to dump Gaza, which has a population of 1.5 million, the Jewish population of Israel and territories under its control would have been slightly less than the non-Jewish population. Moreover, for Israel the situation looks unlikely to improve as numbers of Jewish immigrants are declining, although the Jewish birthrate has risen in recent years, it still fails to match that of Israeli Arabs and Palestinians.

Thirdly, Israel’s support among Jews in the diaspora is waning, particularly among intellectuals who find it difficult to reconcile Israel’s aggression and its disdain for international law with their own consciences. This trend is evidenced by new Jewish lobbying groups, such as J-Street in the US and JCall in Europe, that are supportive of a Palestinian state and would like the international community to give Israel a hefty dose of tough love.

It’s interesting to note that an association of German Jews, called “Jewish Voices for Just Peace,” is not only planning to send an aid vessel to Gaza to break the siege, it has been inundated with requests from Jews keen to travel and is now seeking a second boat.

Fourth, more than 50 percent of young American Jews marry out of the religion, which Steven M. Cohen, a research professor of Jewish Social Policy in New York, calls “the greatest single threat to Jewish continuity.” This is because the offspring of such unions are often lost to the faith. A study sponsored by the Jewish Life Network/Steinhardt Foundation found that “intermarriage independently depresses Jewish involvement” and mixed faith couples are less likely to visit Israel than those who have married within the faith. Thus, it is a logical assumption that American Jewish support for pro-Israel lobbying organizations, such as AIPAC, is likely to decline over time.

Fifth, Israel’s victim narrative no longer has the same impact on the international community that it once had for various reasons: Memories of the holocaust are fading as victims grow older and die; Israel has ruthlessly and transparently used this tragic part of its history as a main component of its propaganda war. Most of all, a wealthy nuclear state, with a powerful military that enjoys the unconditional backing of the US, can no longer pretend to be a victim with any credibility.

An even more important factor that may signal Israel’s demise is the recognition within the US military high command that Tel Aviv is becoming a strategic liability rather than an asset. Earlier this year, Gen. David Petraeus told a Senate committee that “Arab anger over the Palestinian question limits the strength and depth of US partnerships with governments and peoples . . .”

It seems that Israel’s Mossad Chief Meir Dagan has got the message. “Israel is gradually turning from an asset to the United States to a burden,” he recently told the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. It’s an open secret that relations between Israel’s right-wing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Barack Obama have been strained since they met in March, when Netanyahu was left to stew while Obama went off to lunch with Michelle and the girls.

Lastly, since Israel’s onslaught on Gaza in the winter of 2008/9, and the ensuing Goldstone report recommending that Israelis be brought before the International Criminal Court on possible war crimes charges, Tel Aviv has been losing friends. Such anti-Israeli mood has been compounded by the Mossad’s cloning of foreign passports used by its hit squad to assassinate a Hamas commander in Dubai, as well as the killing of nine peace activists on a Turkish aid ship in international waters.

The only way that Israel can guarantee its survival as a Jewish state is by choosing peace with all its neighbors; that will entail an end to occupation and the creation of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital. If, on the other hand, Israelis prefer domination to peace and stolen land to security, as the CIA study indicates, their country’s future looks dim.
Linda S. Heard is a British specialist writer on Middle East affairs. She welcomes feedback and can be contacted by email at

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