Israel’s Dreaded Tipping Point Has Finally Arrived
As President Obama prepares to visit Israel later this month, reports from administration officials indicate that he does not intend to focus on resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but rather to discuss regional threats such as Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and the continuing violence in Syria. But Obama should realize that Israel’s continued presence in the West Bank is an existential threat to its continuity as a democratic, Jewish state — and time is not on Israel’s side.
The urgency of this issue was illustrated by Sergio DellaPergola, a Hebrew University professor and an expert on Israeli population studies, in a presentation at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington last month. The statistics DellaPergola assembled are clear and their implications are frightening. Right now, the total number of Jews and Arabs living under Israeli rule in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza is just under 12 million people. At the moment, a shade under 50 percent of the population is Jewish. In other words, right now — not in five or ten years, but right now — only 50 percent of the people living in the Jewish state and in the areas under its control are Jews. The dreaded tipping point — which advocates of the two-solution have been warning about for years — has finally arrived.
Some argue that this ratio is irrelevant, that Israel’s current demographic balance should not be a source of concern, since Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005. The international community doesn’t buy this argument, though, since they still see Gaza as occupied since Israel controls its airspace and sea space.
But taking Gaza out of the equation does not buy Israel much time, anyway.