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Friday, June 29, 2007

UNRWA to blame for violence in Gaza?

Writing in the Financial Times of London, Gunnar Heinsohn argues that what's behind the violence in Gaza is the explosive 'Palestinian' population growth, which is taking place in a parasitic society.

Hat Tip: Nathan in Teaneck, New Jersey

For those of you who don't have memberships at FT of London (which are not free), you can find the full article here.
Who is to blame for all this violence and conflict? There are many answers to that, but it is interesting to note that Ahmed Youssef, a top Hamas man and political adviser to Ismail Haniya, the Palestinian prime minister, does not blame Gaza's troubles on either "the Jews" or the lack of religious faith among his secular opponents in Fatah. In May 2007 he told Cairo's Al Ahram newspaper that the main problem was the inability of both Fatah and
Hamas "to control their men in the streets".

But why has violence exploded out of control in a culture where obedience is an uncontested virtue? The answer lies in a different kind of explosion. Gaza has been overwhelmed by a demographic boom that shows no sign of abating. Between 1950 and 2007, its population has jumped from 240,000 to nearly 1.5m. How was such rapid growth possible in a small territory that has no economy to speak of?

This extraordinary achievement was accomplished by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. UNRWA - in accordance with international law - treats every resident of Gaza as a refugee. It provides housing, schooling and medication for every newborn - whether a first child or a 10th sibling.

As a result of UNRWA's policies and programmes, a Jewish majority in Israel and the territories has been turned into a minority. In the over-60 age bracket, Jews enjoy a three to one lead in population. But they lose ground in the younger generations that will wage the wars of the coming decades. In 2005 there were 640,000 Jewish boys under 15, against 1.1m in the Arab sector. Many young Jews are their families' only sons, who concentrate on future vocations. However, more than two-thirds of the Arab boys are second, third and even fourth brothers. Neither their fathers nor UNRWA will leave them any property or prepare them for a decent place in life.

Mr Haniya, for example, was born in 1962 and brought up by western aid money. He is the father of 13 children. In Mr Haniya's age bracket of 45 to 59 years, Gaza, in 2007, has 46,000 men. In the age bracket 0 to 14 years, there are 343,000 boys. In the US, every 1,000 men in the age bracket 45 to 49 are followed by only 945 boys in the age bracket 0 to 4. For Israeli Jews, the ratio is about 1,000 to 1,500. In Gaza, however, every 1,000 men from 45 to 49 are followed by nearly 6,200 boys from 0 to 4.


Over the next 15 years many more angry young males will roam the streets of Palestine, because of a birth defect of the Arafat-Rabin peace process. A western promise to support all children already born but to cut from international welfare Palestinian children born after 1992, and, simultaneously, to stop new Israeli settlements, should have been the first step of the Oslo process. As in Algeria or Tunisia, where total fertility fell from 7 to below 2 and where terror has ceased, Gaza, in 2007, would have seen nearly all of its boys turning 15 as only sons. They would have had little incentive to kill their own people or Israelis. Yet today Gaza's total fertility is still close to 6. This demographic armament will continue
to provide large numbers of young men who have no prospects for employment and no place in society, and whose only hope is to fight for one.
While I agree that UNRWA is a bad idea and I agree that they may share some of the blame for the population growth in Gaza, I think it's oversimplifying to say that if every father were having one or two sons rather than ten, the sons wouldn't be out in the streets fighting. First, I am part of a community where most of the men are engaged in religious study in return for very small stipends and have large families. Granted, most of the women in that community work outside the home and granted a lot (but not all) of those men could change their lifestyle and go out to work if they wanted to. But the bottom line is that there is very little violence - and without any of the viciousness - that exists among the 'Palestinians.' And clearly economic incentives to have (or not to have) children make very little difference in my community.

Second, even if 'Palestinians' were to wake up tomorrow morning and find out that their children would not be on the world's dole forever, it doesn't necessarily mean that they would give up the violence or have fewer children. The example given in the article is Algeria which had an Islamist revolution and a civil war. But there's a difference between a war against other Muslims and a war between Muslims and Jews. My gut feeling is that the 'Palestinians' will be much more willing to die to murder Jews than were the Algerian Salafists willing to die to murder other Muslims. And even if UNRWA were not there to support their children, that is no guarantee that the 'Palestinians' would not continue to reproduce like rabbits.

You have to add that the population numbers cited above for Gaza may not be accurate. We've been down that road before too.

All in all, color me skeptical.


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