Shrinking Israel

Israel’s foes have shrewdly countered efforts to shrink the conflict with a campaign to effectively shrink the Jewish state

By Ryan Jones | | Topics: Israeli Arabs
No, that's not Gaza. It's the Lower Galilee, where Palestinian and even Hamas flags are seen more frequently than ever as local Arabs exert their dominance of the region.
No, that's not Gaza. It's the Lower Galilee, where Palestinian and even Hamas flags are seen more frequently than ever as local Arabs exert their dominance of the region. Photo: Jamal Awad/Flash90

While Israeli Jews are busy trying to “shrink the conflict” with the Palestinians, it seems a growing number of Israeli Arabs are working to shrink the Jewish state, a phenomenon that Defense Minister Benny Gantz warned is all too real.

The Arabs have surely learned by now that it’s not feasible to push the Jews into the Mediterranean Sea, not with the mighty IDF behind them. But if the Jews can be pushed into one small corner of the land–which is more a process of intimidation, civil disobedience and localized violence against which Israel’s vaunted military can do little–then the opponents of Zionism will still have won.

If most of the Jews move into the central portion of the coastal plain, abandoning the rest of the country to the Arabs, then Israel’s restoration will have been stalled, if not reversed.

And that is precisely what Gantz acknowledged is happening.


Israel reduced to the coastal plain, ‘from Hadera to Gedera’

During a meeting with members of his “Blue and White” party earlier this month, Gantz read out a hostile WhatsApp message that has gone viral in Israel.

Written in Hebrew presumably by a local Arab, the message insists that while “the government tells you the Galilee and Negev are Jewish; I tell you that in reality, this is Palestinian territory,” and that through tactics such as localized violence, extortion, and land price discrimination, Jews will eventually be pushed out of these regions.

Efforts to combat this phenomenon, read the message, will be stopped by Israel’s hyper-liberal Supreme Court. “The Galilee, with the grace of Allah, will also be ours soon,” wrote the unnamed author.

Gantz was adamant that the threat not be taken lightly. “This isn’t far from the reality,” he reportedly told party colleagues. “I believe that in a few more years we’ll be in a situation where the Jewish state will be between Gedera and Hadera. We are a few years away from this.”


Losing the Galilee

The land price discrimination in the Galilee that was referenced in the WhatsApp message was examined in more depth in a recent article titled “Why Are Jews a Declining Minority in This Key Area?”

In it, Bentzi Lieberman, chairman of the Shiloh Forum, a research and policy institute that encourages Jewish settlement, said that two forces are at work to push Jews out of the region.

First, in many parts of the Galilee, scattered small Jewish towns are surrounded by large Arab populations. Incited by the likes of Hamas, those Arabs are increasingly engaging in localized violence against their Jewish neighbors.

Second, the Arab population is rapidly encroaching on the Jewish towns by buying up land at reduced prices. A plot of land typically costs a Jewish buyer 50 times more than a similar plot sold to an Arab. Most young Israeli Jews simply can’t afford it.

“Little by little, the demographics have changed,” lamented Lieberman.


Is the Negev lost?

The same thing is happening in the southern Negev region. In fact, Israel’s State Comptroller recently cautioned that control of the Negev had already been lost.

“The Bedouin population in the Negev is the poorest in Israel and suffers from a lack of infrastructure and quality education. It has a high rate of tax evasion, polygamy, bribery and vandalism and theft targeting both civilian and military property,” wrote State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman late last year.

The result is that the Negev has become what Englman called a kind of “Wild West” where few Israeli Jews want to live.

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