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Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Kleiner's Speech

Michael Kleiner spoke at YU last night. I was there to hand out pins and articles, as usual. I was orignially going to speak, but it got late, so I left.

Kleiner made some interesting points, which I won't go into now. In general, he outlined his political plan: take the ten billion dollars that Israel is spending on the fence, and instead spend it on encouraging and financing Arab emigration from Israel. It's a reasonable policy - no one is forced to do anything, but they have the option. Why not?

However, let's look at the numbers. He claimed that in a poll, 37% of Arabs in Israel would leave if they had the finances. This means about 1.5 million people. The fence money divided among them would give about $6500 per person. The goal of this plan is to significantly change the demographic makeup of Israel.

Now, instead of spending $6500 per person to get Arabs to leave, why not spend $6500 per person to get Jews to come? Same demographic shift, no charge of "transfer," no chance of the money going to fund terrorism, and the biggest benefit of all - it continues the historic project of Zionism - the ingathering of the exiles, which is the very reason the State of Israel was created.

So, why didn't Kleiner think of this? Probably for the same reason that no one who comes to speak in New York talks about Aliyah: they've given up on us. Sharon still wants to bring a million more immigrants, but he talks about finding them in Russia, where many of these remaining "Jews" are not Jews at all. Why isn't anyone seriously talking about a million immigrants from the West? Furthermore, the only reason why we are talking about a major evacuation of the Jews in Gaza is that we assume we are done growing, and now is the time to close ranks. Immigration is no longer a major force in Israeli policy.

If we have come to the point where the State of Israel has given up on the majority of Am Yisrael which does not reside in Eretz Yisrael, then we have given up on Zionism, and the purpose of the Jewish State. And this is really the most "painful concession" of them all.


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