THE DEMOGRAPHIC TIME BOMB
You don’t have to love everyone in order to live in peace with them. You only have to respect their human, civil, and communal rights. You don’t have to love blacks, or Jews, or gays, or, in this case, Arabs – you just can’t mess with their rights.
And if you fear the so called demographic time bomb, the idea that the Arab birthrate so outpaces the Jewish birthrate that the Arabs will soon become the majority, you should know that the only proven way to stop rampant demographic growth is with economic prosperity.
If you give people a chance to become middle class, they slow down their birthrate. Poor people make more children to bring home more pay. Middle class people have the time and inclination to raise fewer, better attended to children.
And if you worry about the integrity of Jewish towns if Arabs and Jews are permitted to buy homes and live anywhere they choose, you should know that it’s safer for Jews to live in mixed communities with Arabs. Back in the first Gulf War, the Saddam Hussein rockets did not target Jerusalem, because Hussein didn’t want to kill Arabs. And in 2006, Hezbollah rockets launchers tried to avoid hitting mixed communities in northern Israel.
There have been Jewish states in that territory before, under King David and his descendants, and then under the Hasmonean dynasty – and in no time was there a clear Jewish majority. It didn’t matter. As long as everybody accepts that Israel is the one homeland for the Jews, everyone should be able to live there happily and peacefully.
THE BLUE CARD
When Israel annexed East Jerusalem in 1967, it was possible by law for East Jerusalem Arabs to receive Israeli legal residence, or the “Blue Card,” as the Israeli ID card is know. But back then those Arabs snubbed the offer. A few years passed, and in 1994 those East Jerusalem Arabs were told they would be absorbed into the new Palestinian Authority, under the rule of the late Chairman Arafat. You should have seen the line stretching around the block outside the Israeli Ministry of the Interior, with those Jerusalemite Arabs now demanding their rightful Israeli citizenship. Obviously, they preferred life in a Western democracy, to the promise of national liberation under Arafat and his gang of thugs.
There was another interesting case, when Knesset Member Avigdor Lieberman proposed that Arab towns and villages inside the 1967 green line would be moved under Palestinian Authority rule. Instead of supporting his offer of national reunification with their brethren, Israeli Arabs in the Knesset and in the media attacked Lieberman as a racist—which he might well be—but it was obvious that life under either the PA or Hamas was not an attractive substitute to life in the Israeli democracy, with all its faults.
My entire plan comes down to this: Give any Arab who lives between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Israeli citizenship, provided that he or she accept the principle of Israel as the Jewish homeland. That’s all they have to do.
If you wake up 99 out of 100 Palestinians in the middle of the night and ask them if they want to become Israeli citizens with full, equal rights, they would first check to see if you have a fever, then they’d look for the Candid Camera in the room, and finally, when they’re convinced you’re for real, they’d kiss you on both your cheeks and ask where you want them to sign. I know, it’s probably more complicated than that, but I’m writing this after having spoken to many Palestinians, in person and online.