Monday, January 5, 2009

Is Demography Driving Israel's Gaza Battle?

"A Tiny Revolution" Blog, January 2, 2009 - Perhaps this is old news to some, but I've just read a 2004 Jerusalem Post interview with Haifa University demographer Arnon Soffer. Soffer is described as "widely seen as the originator of Ariel Sharon's separation plan"—ie, the "withdrawal" from Gaza, which happened in 2005, a year after the interview.

Given current events, this statement by Soffer seems worth recalling:

[W]hen 2.5 million people live in a closed-off Gaza, it's going to be a human catastrophe. Those people will become even bigger animals than they are today, with the aid of an insane fundamentalist Islam. The pressure at the border will be awful. It's going to be a terrible war. So, if we want to remain alive, we will have to kill and kill and kill. All day, every day.

In 2007, Soffer was again interviewed, and had this to say:

That statement caused a huge stir at the time, and it's amazing to see how many dozens of angry, ignorant responses I continue to receive from leftists in Israel and anti-Semites abroad, who took my words out of context. I didn't recommend that we kill Palestinians. I said we'll have to kill them.

1. Soffer brags about how many Israeli politicians listen to him, and claims Ehud Olmert said in 2003, "Professor Soffer convinced me; we can't escape this any more." To be fair to Olmert, I assume he meant "disengagement" per se, rather than Soffer's plans to "kill and kill and kill."

2. This is from the first interview:

In 1987, at a meeting organized by [former ambassador to the US] Zalman Shoval between myself, Shoval, [nuclear physicist and right-wing leader] Yuval Ne'eman and Ghandi [the late Rehavam Ze'evi], I began by presenting the demographic statistics. Ne'eman got up and said: "Don't believe a word of what Arnon Soffer is telling you: The Central Bureau of Statistics also belongs to the Left."....

3. The original 2004 interview has disappeared from the Jerusalem Post site. I found it in the archives of a Yahoo group for residents of Efrat, a settlement outside Jerusalem, where it was being circulated approvingly.

4. In the second interview, Soffer speaks straightforwardly about Israel's collaboration with the Jordanian and Egyptian governments to subjugate Palestinians. This obviously is well known in the mideast, but is essentially never mentioned in the US media....

No comments: