Last modified: 7:58 AM Saturday, 14 January 2017

The 13-percent solution

Three maps, two models

Maybe it’s a capital mistake to name one’s boy child Yvette: To do so may lead to a lifetime of compensation, as he tries to prove, again and again, his essential masculinity. Then again, perhaps Israel’s foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, is merely yet another corrupt, amoral psychopath in a world that seems all too often to be governed by such moral monsters. In either case, Lieberman has now proposed a reservation system for Palestinians, whom he would eject from Israel into a noncontiguous set of 25 Bantustans. If US President Barack Obama is so craven as to endorse this notion — as former President George W. Bush, to his credit, was not — this will almost certainly doom a population of 5.5 million Palestinians to occupy a space comprising 13 percent of the homeland that once held 750,000.

Shrinking map of Palestine

Blue plate special? Since 1947, Israel has devoured 87 percent of Palestine, leaving scattered Bantustans where once
there was a country.
[ Image Source ]

As it happens, such segregation of populations within a country is not unprecedented. There are two such schemes that stand out historically: the US’ reservation system for Native Americans, and the Bantustans of the former Apartheid South Africa.

The US Native American reservation system, 1850-1990

The US Native American reservation system, 1850-1990.
To view image at full size, click here.
[ Image Source ]

Above is a map depicting the lands occupied by Native Americans at four different periods in US history. What happened is plain to see: As white population growth and technological development outpaced those of “Indians,” the latter were gradually depopulated, demoralized and dispossessed. Without any significant possibility of outside intervention, this process went on until the few remaining “Indians,” who less than a century and a half earlier had occupied the western half of North America, had been either assimilated into white culture or herded onto reservations occupying a tiny fraction of their former lands. Today, they are a powerless and penurious minority forced to compromise their ancestral values for mere survival, and life on their reservations is grim. In this case, obviously, the conquerors achieved their purpose with little resistance.

Bantustans in Apartheid South Africa

Bantustans in Apartheid South Africa. To view image at full size, click here.
[ Image Source ]

But Israel may more closely resemble the model depicted above. In Apartheid South Africa, as this chart shows, blacks were concentrated into quasi-autonomous, non-contiguous “homelands” in which life was not unlike that on US reservations. Here, however, blacks were the majority population, and since this did not change, the system was unstable. In part for this reason, and in part because a modern global economy and communications network permitted morally outraged people from around the world to exert pressure, Apartheid finally fell.

As noted in the Irish Times (also cited above), the Palestinian population has already reached 5.5 million, nearly equal to Israel’s Jewish population of 5.8 million, and is expected to match the latter at 6.1 million in 2014. Further, given their faster birthrate, Palestinians will be the majority of Israel’s total population (including that of the occupied territories) not long thereafter. The article forthrightly concludes from this demographic fact that Israel, if it does not permit a genuine two-state solution, will need to become either a single egalitarian Jewish-Arab state or an Apartheid state.

It’s plain to see which choice Lieberman prefers, and he will surely not lack for allies. But this is not the nineteenth century: Thanks in part to WikiLeaks and a renaissance of investigative journalism, the Zionists’ intent and deeds are known to the world. And nearly six million Palestinians will not be destroyed in silence.

Originally published as a review of an article on Israel and occupied Palestine.

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