Palestinian apologists have been muddying the waters with fallacious claims for decades. Over the past few weeks, those stories have accelerated both in the pace with which they are being posted and the depths of their anger and falsehoods. It is time to set the record straight with facts and figures.
The truth is that the entire issue of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as presented by those supporting the Arab side ignores some very basic questions. The most important of these is who the “Palestinians” are and how they have any claim whatsoever to the land which they allege belongs to them.
To uncover the reality, we have to look back at the demographic history of the Eastern Mediterranean portion of what we call the “Middle East.”
In 1516, the Ottoman Turks (not Arabs and of no relation to the “Palestinians”) took possession of that area, known as the “Levant.” The Levant was further subdivided into provinces, governates, districts, subdistricts and the Mutassariflik of Jerusalem. From then until the early 20th Century (roughly four centuries), the Levant was under Ottoman rule. The Levant more or less covered (borders and boundaries change and one cannot create an exact equivalency) modern day Syria, Jordan, Israel, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and some minor portions of modern day Lebanon and Egypt.
According to the Ottoman Census of 1850, the population of the Levant was determined to be approximately 350,000. That included Turks, Muslim Arabs, Christian Arabs, other non-Arab Muslims, other non-Arab Christians and Jews.
Today, the total population of Israel, Jordan and Syria is roughly 37.4 million. That includes the West Bank and Gaza. Those calling themselves Palestinians also claim another 2.5 million of their people living outside of the area. There are an additional 5 million Palestinians living in Jordan and Syria, but those numbers are included in the Jordan and Syria population figures. So, we are looking at a total population of 39.9 million of those who either live in the area or are Palestinians who claim to come from there but live elsewhere.
Now, much of the Jewish population of Israel came from Europe and is not descended from Jewish residents of the Levant in 1850. So, let’s take out 6 million from the numbers. That leaves us with 33.9 million people. Roughly 10% of those are not Muslim Arabs (Christians, etc). So, we are left with roughly 30.5 million Muslim Arabs. All supposedly descended from the Muslim Arab portion of a population of 350,000. In a period of 164 years. And that does not include those Jordanians and Syrians who moved to other parts of the world such as Europe and the US nor does it take into account the fact that part of the 350,000 in 1850 lived in modern day Lebanon or Egypt. However, for purposes of simplicity we can disregard those numbers.
If we count a generation as 23 1/2 years, we can roughly get eight generations. Were we to go with a more traditional count of either 25 or 30 years, we would have fewer generations which would make it even more difficult to get a plausible number for the Palestinians. Also, we have to look at the fact that a major portion of the population at the time were Ottoman Turks as well as others. So, let’s say that 75% of the population were Arab Muslims, which is probably an overstatement. That’s 262,500.
Now that we have all the base numbers, let’s run the math.
For 262,500 to become 30.5 million in eight generations, you would need each and every generation to increase by 97% over the previous generation. Essentially, we are talking about a consistent doubling of population every 23.5 years in a part of the world where high infant mortality and short life spans have always been the norm. In other words, every single Muslim Arab would have to find a spouse and every couple would have to have four children who survive to adulthood and also have four children, on and on for eight generations.
Now, let’s look at the reality. The fertility rate in Syria (the largest of the countries in the former Levant) is 2.87 births per woman. The fertility rate in Jordan is 3.7 births per woman. Only in the Palestinian territories does it rise above four, at 4.83.
That fertility rate (which is in and of itself insufficient) is further tempered by the fact that in the Palestinian territories, the infant mortality rate in 14.93 deaths per live births. In Syria, it is 15.79 and in Jordan it is 16.8.
By no stretch of the imagination is it possible for the population of the Levant in 1850 to be the sole source of the Arab population today.
Then, how is it possible that there are 30.5 million Arabs in that region?
For that, we have to look at the fact that the ancestors of today’s “Palestinians” were a nomadic group of Arabs, known as the “Levantines.” No surprise at that name. They wandered all over the Levant and did not really have any one area they thought of as home. They built no cities, had no towns, made no claims on any given area of land. A snomands, they were easily encouraged by other Arabs to settle in the Holy Land in the early 20th Century, as a way of establishing an ethnic claim to the region, with special regard for Jerusalem. They did so in the 1930s, roughly 80 years ago. It was at that time that they began calling themselves “Palestinians” because by then the British reigned over the region and they called it “Palestine.”
As the Levantines began to settle, other Arabs from other parts of the Middle East arrived, settled in the region and came to consider themselves “Palestinians,” as well.
The fact is, there is no actual ethnic group called the “Palestinians.” This can be proven by way of math and history. The entire conflict is based on the claims of people who didn’t live in any of those towns or cities 90 years ago. Their claims are opposed by those people whose ancestors built Jerusalem and every other city in the Holy Land. Add to that the fact that there are 21 Arab countries which could each take in a few hundred thousand Palestinians and absorb them easily while there is only ONE Jewish country, and it is pretty clear that there is no moral argument to be made for vilifying the Israelis.
Israel never took any land from the Palestinians. That land was invaded and confiscated by Jordan and Syria in 1948. Israel gained possession in 1967 when they beat those two countries and Egypt in a war, a war of Arab aggression. One of many wars, in fact. Israel gave Egypt back the Sinai Peninsula within 12 years. They told Syria they were keeping the Golan Heights because that area is just too easy to use in an anti-Israel invasion. They have been trying to negotiate a settlement with the Palestinians for decades now, with the only real Israeli conditions being ones which would guarantee that Palestinian land could not be utilized to stage yet another invasion. Those conditions – primarily – are a modification of borders (the pre-1967 borders are unacceptable from a strategic point of view) and an explicit acceptance of Israel’s right to exist on the part of the Palestinians.
The Palestinians continually refuse to abide by those conditions. Instead, they attack Israel with suicide bombings and rocket strikes. In most cases, Israel does not strike back. This time, they did. However, unlike most other countries would, Israel does not shut off water or electricity, though they could. They do not shut the borders with Egypt, though they could. They do not restrict shipments of food and medicine, though they could. Even the so-called “blockade” of ships into Palestinian territories is not a real blockade. It is a stop-and-search action. All ships with not weapons or explosives are allowed through.
The accusations against Israel are fraudulent and designed to present the conflict in a false light. Israel is neither aggressor nor oppressor. She is a small country surrounded by people who want to destroy her and kill her People. She and her leaders only do what is necessary in order to survive the professed Arab intent to commit genocide against her.