May 7, 2019
The Israeli Left frequently accuses the country's Right of viewing the Palestinian Arab problem solely from the Jewish perspective while ignoring the other side's point of view.
There is a modicum of rationality to this claim, but its Achilles' heel is that the left addresses the Palestinian Arab positions only through the lens of its leadership's pronouncements, and those lead to a dead end by definition, because they are based on non-attainable nationalistic aspirations (such as eliminating Israel).
The left conveniently forgets that alongside the rhetoric of Palestinian Arab nationalism, there are millions of people in Gaza who have the right to live in dignity and with at least minimal civil rights. When trying to find a solution, these people should be given priority.
Let us compare the four groups of Palestinian Arabs living between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea today:
1 — Residents of the Gaza Strip
2 — Residents of Judea and Samaria (aka "West Bank"),
3 — Residents of Arab cities within pre-1967 Israel
4 — Those Arabs who reside in Jewish mixed population Israeli cities.
If we measure the average socio-economic condition of each of these groups and adjust it for the weight of other measures of the quality of life, such as personal security and the availability of educational, medical and other services — the resulting graph is clear and unequivocal. Israelization is the non-contested and only statistically significant condition for improving the life of the individual Palestinian Arab.
At the lowest spot on the quality of life ladder are the Gazan Arabs, devoid, since Israel's 2005 Disengagement from Gaza, of any hopes, dreams and the possibility of a decent life. Directly above them are the Palestinian Arab residents of the "West Bank" whose lives are on a much higher scale, especially for those who work in Israeli industrial centers. Above them are the residents of Arab communities in pre-1967 Israel who enjoy Israeli salaries and perks such as national insurance benefits — and above them all, on the highest rung of the ladder, are the Arabs living in mixed Israeli cities.
The chance that an Arab living on the Haifa Carmel or in its Achuza neighborhood will be accepted to the Technion or Haifa University, go on to earn a good salary and live his life on a high level is hardly different from that of a Jew with similar aspirations. It all depends on him. If he puts in sufficient effort — he will succeed, and if he doesn't, he won't. Israeli sovereignty is the solution here, not the problem. His cousin living in the Arab city of Tira is also eligible for the services and opportunities Israel offers its citizens, but his personal safety is on a lower level. Gang wars and shooting in the streets are common occurrences in Tira, but that is not the case in Haifa.
This simple comparison leads to a simple conclusion: The much-maligned so-called "occupation" is the solution, not the problem. In this vein, the October 2000 Arab riots were the best thing that ever happened to Arab citizens of Israel. They got the message delivered most clearly by the outcome of those violent riots, and it told them that they have to make a choice between two alternatives: either nationalism or life. They must decide either to be a part of the nationalist Palestinian Arab aspirations and join the "resistance" movement of "West Bank" Arabs of Judea and Samaria, or to live as Israelis.
The harsh events at that time made the price of each alternative crystal clear: joining the Palestinian Arab struggle would turn that terrible October into a permanent situation in which they would live by the sword, suffer poverty, defeat and humiliation — and bear witness to the proliferation of the tents traditionally erected for Arab mourners.
Thank God, that is not what happened. The vast majority of Israeli Arab citizens chose to live as Israelis, joining the economic boom, and Israeli governments were careful to reward them for making the correct decision. The previous government allocated 15 billion NIS for programs to narrow the gaps in the Arab sector, this in addition to the standard, generous budgetary allocations.
In 2006, notwithstanding, a plan for national separatism was published by the High Follow-Up Committee for Arab citizens of Israel, but everyone knew that this was not a call for action, and merely served as lip service for the benefit of fellow Palestinian Arabs not privy to the plenty in the land flowing with milk, honey and hi-tech exits. Local leaders in the Arab sector prefer to bend down to pick up the money lying around on the ground rather than take part in a nationalist crusade whose price is high and whose chance of success is nil.
It is not only about money, it is about reality. When you are a respected Arab doctor earning a high salary in an Israeli hospital, there is a limit to your susceptibility to the brain washing emanating from the local mosque.
What about those nationalistic dreams? They have been left behind in Muslim prayer books. True, Israeli Arab citizens have not begun singing Zionist songs around the campfire, the situation is not ideal, but one can live with it on the ground except for scattered incidents. It is a fact that ISS (Shabak) personnel in the northern Arab sector have lots of free time on their hands.
Judea and Samaria (aka the "West Bank") are located smack in the middle of the continuum connecting the desert to civilization. Thanks to the IDF, the Palestinian Arabs are unable to butcher one another in broad daylight on city streets, homosexuals and those engaging in extra marital relations are not being hurled to their deaths from the rooftops, the economy works, and there is a level of human rights way above that to be found in other Arab countries. The media is blind to all this: it focuses on places where Hamas is gaining ground, and sympathizes with the "sad lot" of those who chose lives of blood, death and tears.
The Left is right in saying there is no equality, but, as is its wont, shows only half the picture. The reality is that an Arab in Judea and Samaria earns less than his Israeli Arab counterpart, but much more than he would earn if Israel had not remained in charge of security where he lives. He sees exactly how his cousins in Gaza live and does not envy them in the least.
And now for Gaza:
The disastrous 2005 Disengagement from Gaza did have two positive results: It put an end to the Israeli yen for hasty unilateral actions and it split Palestinian Arab leadership, somewhat weakening its ability to engage in terror production.
On the negative side, it made the Gaza problem unsolvable. There is no use expanding on an analysis of the situation, volatile and incendiary as it is, but it is apparent that supporting a continuation of the status quo along with economic programs as has been the case in Judea and Samaria for the last 50 years or so — cannot be applied to Gaza anymore. Political, national, defense and social analyses show that Gaza has lost the ability to rehabilitate itself by means of help from Israel.
Gaza is unable to rescue itself from itself. Hamas rule is in a state of such abysmal cultural and spiritual stagnation that there is no way in the forseeable future to convince it to care for its citizens' well being and abandon its delusions about a Caliphate under Sharia law. Its only raison d'etre is launching rockets and engaging in other forms of terror against Israeli civilians. As time passes, the situation only gets worse: humanitarian and social conditions continue to deteriorate, and if Israel does nothing, the gates to Gaza will become harder and harder to control.
The optimum solution in the current situation is what I call "double thinning our" — both demographic and geographic.
Demographic thinning out is to be based on an Israeli plan for free emigration that benefits from international backing. A tempting resettlement package would be offered to any family that decides to leave the Strip to build new lives in another part of the world.
Money is the answer to the entire problem: It will convince hundreds of thousands whose minds are not yet made up, and add to the coffers of accepting countries who are to be rewarded with generous international investments. Israel will have to open an immigration ministry, open the Gaza crossings and offer transportation to Ben Gurion Airport for those who choose life. (Editor's Note: Israeli pundit Guy Bechor claims that 400 Gazans per day are allowed to pass through to Egypt on their way to other countries already and suggests doubling that number).
The geographic thinning out is based on a regional solution that expands the Strip in the direction of El Arish (southward) with generous US support. El-Sisi has already expressed readiness to examine the idea, and enough money can do much to dispel his doubts. Geographic "thinning" would mean giving that area a status somewhere between annexation and protection on Egypt's part and allow for industry and tourism to develop along the coast, similar to what Egypt did for the Bedouin in southern Sinai. The Americans might even give the UN an ultimatum: strategic support for the idea or an end to US funding.
In order to complete the process, Israel would return to the northern part of the Strip and reestablish the communities of el Sinai, Dugit and Nisanit. The security belt that protects Israeli communities has to be widened as much as possible — and that is needed to ensure security as well as for historic justice.