One of the debating points for the past near half-century, surrounding the issue of annexation of Judea and Samaria or the creation of a Palestinian state, has been the fear of apartheid or the demographic downfall of the Jewish majority in Israel, should both areas be annexed. Basically, the argument predicts either a Jewish version of South African apartheid or the democratic destruction of the Jewish State. Yet, this comparison is false. Israel is in the Middle East and not on the African continent. Thus, to truly understand and appreciate the political, social, religious and cultural factors that will come into play should annexation occur, one needs to compare Israel to Lebanon.
In 1926 when the Lebanese Republic came into being, its Constitution was based on the Confessional System. This was a system in which political and governmental powers were divided according to the relative size of the religious communities. This system gave power to the Maronite Christians. Within 6 short years, the creation of the enlarged state had shifted the Maronite Christian majority, within the new Greater Lebanon, to only 51 percent. This change was due to lower rates of immigration and higher national increases, thus enabling the Shiite Muslim minority to gain greater numbers. Hence by 1932, the Christians had become so apprehensive about their status that they did not want the continued practice of census taking, as this would reveal their weakened position.
The Maronite community was faced with two possible solutions: one offered by Emile Edde, the other by Bishara al-Khury.
Edde believed that the security and protection of the Maronites lay with their relying on the French, as Lebanon had been under the French Mandate, following WWI.
Bishara al-Khury maintained that the Maronites should ally themselves with both Lebanon’s Sunni Muslim community and the surrounding Sunni Arab States. His thinking lay in the enmity between the Sunni and Shite.
It was the French defeat by the Nazis that cleared the path for al-Khury. If the French could not protect themselves, then how could they protect the Maronites. In 1943, an unwritten agreement between the Maronites, led by al-Khury and Riyad al-Sulh, leader of the Sunni was established. The National Pact enabled the Maronites to have political supremacy, i.e. the Presidency, the Sunnis, the Premiership, and the Shiites, the Speakership of Parliament, i.e. the least powerful position.
In 1946, Lebanon became an independent state. But by 1958, only 12 years later, the Pan-Arabism movement led by the charismatic Abdul Nasser swayed the Sunnis away from the Maronite Christians, leading to civil war, since the Sunnis wanted to join the United Arab Republic. President Camille Chamoun appealed to the United States to send in the Marines in July of 1958 to stop the war, which the US did. Stability only lasted for 19 years. Then, from 1975 -1989 a second civil war ensued.
Following the 1948 attempted genocidal War against the fledgling Jewish State, many Palestinian refugees entered Lebanon, some 150,000 to give an idea of the volume. But they were never integrated, thereby increasing greater instability.
Hence by April 1975, clashes erupted between Palestinian forces and the Maronite, Phalange militia. The Lebanese army did not have the power to restore order. And again, outside assistance was needed. Thus, in May of 1976 Syria intervened on behalf of the Christians. (1)
How do the political, social, and cultural realities of Lebanon relate to Greater Israel?
In 1926 the Maronite Christians had hoped that a Greater Lebanon would lead to greater political power, stability and security for them.
In Israel 2017 those seeking a Greater Israel hope to achieve the same while reclaiming the historical Jewish land of Judea and Samaria.
Let us assume that Israel will annex the entire West Bank and grant full citizenship to its 2.9 million Arabs. What will this new reality produce?
Overnight the Arab population within Israel will increase from 1.47 million to 4.37 million, a very significant change in their minority status while the 6 million Jewish majority will stay the same. With a stroke of a pen, the Jewish majority will instantly fall from 75% to 57% as the Arab minority will instantly increase from 25% to 43%.
Knowing the past actions of the Joint Arab List and its incitement for political and social unrest, its leaders will feel empowered to almost immediately call for strikes, civil unrest and wage a greater and fiercer anti-Israel PR campaign.
At the same time, the 2.9 million Arabs who have been raised to hate Israel, with their minds, hearts, and souls for the past 50 years will respond to the Joint Arab List Leaders. The Arab population will seek revenge for the perceived or real humiliation that they have endured for the past half century. The leaders of Fatah will also take advantage of their new citizenship rights to protest, march, and cause massive unrest.
Meanwhile, a new feeling of Palestinian nationalism has a greater chance to awaken within the 1.47 million Israeli Arabs. One clearly needs to remember that the past two intifadas, in particular the knife and car intifada of 2015, were carried out by Israeli Arabs.
As internal political unrest will grow, Sunni Arab States such Saudi Arabia will agitate further instability within Israel.
As of March 25, 2017, the Arab League asked UNESCO to claim Western Jerusalem as Arab. In January 2017, the Arabs were able to have the UN Security Council officially recognize East Jerusalem as Palestinian. Such resolutions will increase feelings of Sunni Arab loyalty such as the Pan-Arabism of Nasser did.
Hence, internal incitement, external agitation, and further BDS pressure will create a powder keg of severe instability that will lead to violence and terrorism.
But this will not stop there. Those on the extreme Left, out of romantic “social justice” needs, will join the unrest. This will pit extreme right wing Jews and extreme Left-wing Jews against one another in ways reminiscent of the 1930’s Yishuv.
The atmosphere will also embolden extreme anti-Zionist religious groups to join the unrest demanding the end of the Jewish State.
As the Maronite Christians, who sought a Greater Lebanon quickly learned, majorities can quickly dwindle, minority unrest can easily grow and outside influence can tear apart a State. Those seeking to create a Greater Israel must not place their heads in the sand and hope for the best. But they must seriously consider the road ahead of them. An increase of 2.9 unfriendly Arabs is quite a danger to the stability of Israel.
If there were a chance for a Greater Israel, it was 50 years ago, when Israel had the opportunity to bring Israeli democracy to the areas, as George Marshall had brought democracy to Japan and Germany.
But 50 years of hatred and misinformation have produced a very fierce enemy that if taken into the State of Israel may cause the end of the State of Israel.
(1) Historical material based on a lecture by Professor Asher Susser, Tel Aviv University
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