Is Population Transfer the Solution to the Palestinian Problem—And Some Others?

July 08, 2003

[Also by Robert Locke: Why The Pro-Life Movement Should Support Immigration Reduction,  Valhalla of the Idiots Savant, A 90-DAY PAUSE—NOW!]

Let me lay my cards on the table: I am an American supporter of Israel, non-Jewish but a philo-semite. Perhaps not all VDARE.COM readers will agree with me. [VDARE.COM comment: In which case they should email Robert Locke, not us!] But the ideologies governing all Western nations are closely interlinked. What happens in one nation is likely to happen in the others. Nationalism as such is under systematic attack by globalist ideology. We can no longer afford to fall into the classic trap that has always bedeviled nationalists: instinctive difficulty in cooperating with the nationalists of other nations.

Moreover, the central problem facing Israeli nationalism at this moment is the Palestinian question—the presence, within the borders of the national state, of a large, unassimilable, alienated population. Because of current mass immigration, the U.S. and all the historic nation-states of Europe are beginning to face the same problem. Ultimately, they may have to consider some version of the same solution.

The current “road map” for peace will self-destruct like all previous ones and for the same reason: the Palestinians believe in eternal war against Israel. The world can go on proposing futile peace plans—or it can consider a solution that would actually end the conflict: the non-lethal but forcible expulsion of the Palestinians to Jordan.

(Arguably, Jordan is Palestine anyway, and has been since at least 1923, when three-quarters of the League of Nations mandate of Palestine was set up as the Emirate of Transjordan by the British and reserved for Arabs. The Palestinians do not constitute a distinct nationality, being racially, ethnically, linguistically, religiously, and culturally indistinguishable from the majority of Jordan`s population.)

Population transfer is almost certainly the only long-term solution—which is why 1/3 of the Israeli electorate already favor it, usually in the form known as the “Elon Plan” after cabinet minister Benny Elon. (One of Elon`s aides showed him a draft of this article—he seems to have appreciated it but responded that his own intentions towards the Arabs were more “peaceful.”)

The underlying principle is simple: borders work. If the Palestinians live in Jordan and the Israelis in Israel, the day-to-day bloodletting will cease. Suicide bombs and other attacks are only possible when hostile populations have physical access to each other. Separate them, and they can only attack each other by outright military invasion, which Israel can defeat.

There is already a wall around Gaza. Since its completion, not a single suicide bomber has emerged from that territory. Israel is currently building a wall around the West Bank. Since the effectiveness of a wall depends on its ability to establish a “sterile” zone inside it, it is time to follow this policy to its logical conclusion and plan the removal of the threat-bearing population.

This is the point in the argument where most people blanch. But this is based on the mistaken assumption that population transfer must be brutal, like the Turkish genocide of the Armenians or Stalin`s deportation of the Crimean Tatars.

But it is the genocidal aspect of “ethnic cleansing” that decent people rightly object to. Non-genocidal ethnic cleansing—even if nothing to be taken lightly—is another question entirely.

Involuntary population transfer obviously cannot be wholly peaceful and fair. But if properly organized and carried out in a disciplined manner, it can be done with a tolerably low level of violence, i.e. one involving less long-term bloodshed than the current situation, in which people are dying every day. It would not require machine-gunning people in the streets.

The key would be a graduated system of carrots and sticks. Those Palestinians who left in response to a minor prod would receive nothing stronger. But those who required a stronger push would get it.

The ethical principle is that any given Palestinian would only get as much rough treatment as he brought on his own head by failing to leave sooner.

Transfer would have to be inexorable, relentless, and executed with the utmost self-discipline on the part of the Israeli army. If it took 2-3 years to slowly squeeze the Palestinians out, this would be acceptable, if it were the price of getting rid of them forever without the mass slaughter that a Western liberal democracy like Israel cannot countenance.

Logistically, population transfer would be accomplished by Israel militarily occupying a small territory on the east bank of the Jordan River and extruding the Palestinians there by squeezing them out of the West Bank sector by sector. Jordan has shown in the past that she does not like taking in Palestinian refugees, but will do so. In any case, Jordan does not have the military muscle to object.

Things would play out something like this:

 

  1. As soon as the repatriation policy is credibly announced, X% of the Palestinians see the writing on the wall and leave.

 

  1. When a cash bribe is offered, another X% go.

 

  1. When stiff taxes are imposed, another X%.

 

  1. When arrangements for compensation for lost property are put on a sliding scale rewarding those who leave soonest, another X%.

 

  1. When Palestinians are fired from their jobs, another X%.

 

  1. When they only receive an unemployment check if mailed to an address outside Israel, another X%.

 

  1. When Palestinians are expelled from schools and universities, another X%.

 

  1. When certain parts of pre-1967 Israel are declared “Palestinians-free zones,” another X%.

 

  1. When the electricity is turned off, X%.

 

  1. When the water is turned off, X%.

 

  1. When sale of gasoline to Palestinians is prohibited, X%.

 

  1. When sale of food to Palestinians is prohibited, X%.

 

  1. When a 24-hr curfew is imposed, X%.

 

At various times, all of these measures have actually been employed already. While they have motivated only about 250,000 Palestinians to leave, they have been proven to be physically and politically possible. The key is to drive up the percentages in a dispassionate and relentless way. The key to this is to apply these policies systematically and with sufficient credibility to establish the futility of resistance.

Further measures would include:

 

  1. Ban all economic activity.

 

  1. Ban the importation of all foodstuffs and destroy agriculture with aerial spraying. Naturally, this must be combined with the provision of food to any refugee who leaves.

 

  1. Deplete the Palestinians` aquifers; this is happening anyway simply because there is a water shortage.

 

  1. Demolish housing and destroy all possessions except those being loaded onto a bus to Jordan.

 

  1. Arrest Palestinians on the street and deport them.

 

  1. Have the police physically drag Palestinians from their homes.

 

  1. Have the army physically drag Palestinians from their homes.

 

  1. Warn people their homes will be blown up with them inside them if they don`t leave.

 

  1. Carry out threat 21.

 

The core tactic is simply to squeeze the Palestinians out. The objective, of course, is not to kill them, so this must be done sector-by-sector and combine the starvation of one sector with the generous provision of free food in the sector immediately closer to the border. As Palestinians fled the starved areas for areas where food was available, a military cordon would be put up behind them.

The process would be repeated until they were all out.

Governments all over the world regularly deport people. It is a legitimate function of a sovereign state to determine that the presence of certain persons is not in the national interest, to make it illegal, and to enforce it. Even the United States, which has de facto given up enforcing its southern border, still deports 300,000 people per year.

The closest precedents for population transfer are the expulsion of millions of ethnic Germans from Eastern Europe following World War II and the exchange of populations between Turkey and Greece after World War I. Both precedents were bloodier than anything I`m proposing. But both did settle longstanding issues that could not be settled any other way. Both have been accepted as legitimate by the world at large.

Why not in Israel?

International opinion, contrary to leftist myth, was long willing to contemplate population transfer. As Herbert Zweibon of Americans For A Safe Israel has written,

“Zionist leaders from right and left advocated it in the 1920s and 1930s. Two American presidents endorsed it in the 1940s. The British Labor Party made transfer of Arabs from Palestine part of its official Middle East plank in 1944.” (Outpost, October 2002)

Indeed, some amount of population transfer has always been accepted as part of the Oslo process—although Oslo envisaged cleansing Gaza and part of the West Bank of Jews, not Palestinians.)

So why are people so shocked?

The Arab states would obviously react negatively to population transfer. But there is little they could do. With the exception of Egypt and Jordan, they are already so hostile to Israel that it could hardly make matters worse. Doubtless, the oil weapon will be discussed. But swing producer Saudi Arabia is broke and needs every penny, our hand is on Iraq`s oil spigot, and the Gulf States, unlike in 1974, hold significant assets in the West that could be seized if they make trouble.

Morally, the Arab states have no standing to complain. They have alternately brutalized and expelled the Palestinians within their own borders, and they expelled nearly a million Jews after the founding of the State of Israel in 1948.

If Israel follows through on this plan, it would probably be prudent for the United States to distance itself in various ways, perhaps by cutting off our billion dollars a year in economic aid. But, given that Israel really needs to get off of American welfare anyway, this would not be a serious problem.

Even the Palestinians will be better off if they are forced to abandon their revanchist dream, which the other Arab states have pushed on them for the sake of making them a weapon against Israel, and to start constructing a normal society.

Twenty years from now, many Palestinians may look back on the whole thing as irrelevant to their lives.

Population transfer is not a perfect solution. Some people would get killed.

But the alternative is a low-intensity war in which people are being killed every day. It would be a cauterizing but effective end to the conflict, a cutting of the biggest Gordian knot in world politics.

And it has, as I said, crucial implications for other Western nations—including America.

Robert Locke (email him) is a former associate editor at FrontPageMagazine.com (archive here).