The lead article in the New York Times Sunday Review section — the old “Week in Review” — is headlined “Israel’s Everlasting Occupation.”
The article claims:
official Israeli and Palestinian population statistics indicate that Jews have been a minority in the territory Israel controls for several years now, and with no repercussions: A majority of the world’s nations still speak of undemocratic rule by a Jewish minority as a hypothetical future, not an unacceptable present.
That’s not accurate. At year-end 2016, the Israeli Jewish population was 6.45 million and the Israeli Arab population was 1.796 million, and there were 345,000 “others.” The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, meanwhile, counted a Palestinian population of 2.9 million in the West Bank and 1.8 million in Gaza.
The key point here is that Gaza is not “territory Israel controls.” In fact, Israel withdrew from Gaza unilaterally in 2005, uprooting and evacuating the Jews who lived there. The place is now ruled by Hamas, a terrorist group opposed to the existence of Israel. If Israel controlled it, Hamas wouldn’t be in charge there. It is true that Israel patrols its borders with Gaza, but that doesn’t constitute “control.” The error would be like counting the Hispanic population of Mexico as part of that of the United States just because the United States maintains a border patrol along the Rio Grande.
Subtract Gaza, and there is unquestionably a Jewish majority. Even if you add together the entire West Bank and all of Israel, 6.45 million Jews are more than 1.796 million Israeli Arabs and 2.9 million West Bank Palestinians. It isn’t even close.
And that’s just the beginning of the problems with the Times article, written by Nathan Thrall of the International Crisis Group. David Makovsky, a former State Department official now with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, wrote his own detailed and perceptive critique on his Facebook page, observing:
I have many problems with Nathan Thrall’s NYTimes Week in Review piece on June 4, 2017, claiming Israel only makes compromises if forced. His piece makes clear that such pressure is often Palestinian violence. … I think the idea as evinced in the piece is both morally wrong and it is historically inaccurate. This history matters because it creates a fatally mistaken sense of cause and effect.
*Thrall claims that Yitzhak Rabin went to Oslo because the first intifada “intensified” in 1993. In fact, the mass nature of the intifada essentially died out by the start of the Gulf War in January 1991. Rabin pursued back-channel talks in Oslo largely because he promised his voters in 1992 of major progress on the Palestinian front and the front-channel was stuck. (I wrote a book on this topic Making Peace with the PLO: The Rabin Government’s Road to the Oslo Accord.)
*In December 2003, Ariel Sharon announced Gaza disengagement – yet not because of Hamas as Thrall contends. The second intifada had already peaked. …
*Thrall makes it sound like from Gaza pullout in 2005 until 2015, nothing occurred. In fact, it was the opposite of the Thrall thesis. The unilateral impulse of the Gaza pullout that Thrall yearned for was completely destroyed by the rockets that came into Israel after Israel withdrew from Gaza and after Israel faced a war in Lebanon in the summer of 2006. … Violence discredited Israeli pullouts. It did not facilitate it.
… violence will not solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It just makes its resolution much more distant.
The International Crisis Group that employs Mr. Thrall has on its board of directors George Soros, who has described himself as neither a Zionist nor a practicing Jew and who has falsely accused Israel of “not seeking a political solution but pursuing military escalation — not just an eye for an eye but roughly speaking ten Palestinian lives for every Israeli one.”
It sure looks like Mr. Soros has gotten his money’s worth with his investment in the International Crisis Group and Mr. Thrall, who got a big Sunday splash in the New York Times to smear Israel, inaccurately.
(C) 2017 . The Algemeiner Ira Stoll