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January 12, 2009
Tune in: Online radio show on the roots of the Gaza war

As the war in Gaza continues and tensions flare on both sides, Worldfocus takes a step back to examine the historical roots and background of the current war in Gaza and the Israeli-Hamas conflict. presents a webcasted radio show on Gaza with the help of BlogTalkRadio. and anchor Martin Savidge host a panel featuring a range of voices and perspectives on Gaza, addressing questions submitted by Worldfocus viewers:

Ehud Eiran is a research fellow at the Belfer Center’s International Security Program at Harvard University. Prior to his studies, Eiran served as an officer in the Israeli Army and is currently a reserve major. He was a legal clerk for two Israeli attorney generals and assistant to Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s Foreign Policy Advisor.

Wendy Pearlman is a political science professor at Northwestern University specializing in Palestinian politics. She is currently finishing a book that examines fragmentation and violence in the history of the Palestinian national movement. She is the author of “Occupied Voices: Stories of Everyday Life from the Second Intifada.”

Ghassan Shabaneh is a professor of Middle East and international studies at Marymount Manhattan College. During his career, Mr. Shabaneh has done extensive field research in the Middle East, and most recently in the West Bank, Syria and Jordan. He is currently working on a book tentatively called “The Role of the United Nations in State Building: The Case of Palestine.” Watch his previous interviews on the Worldfocus newscast.

Charles D. Smith is a professor of Middle East history at the University of Arizona. He has written extensively on the Arab-Israeli conflict and is the author of “Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict,” currently in its seventh edition. He is a former president of the American Research Center in Egypt and a former research fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He has lived and done research in Egypt, Israel, Lebanon and Tunisia.

Music courtesy of the Search for Common Ground.

Host: Martin Savidge
Producers: Lisa Biagiotti, Katie Combs and Stephen Puschel

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[…] give it a try and listen by going to BlogTalkRadio or at On Tuesday, Jan. 13, Martin hosted a panel discussion of Middle East experts. Together, they […]


Root Of The GAZA Problem: West’s Promotion Of
A Fundamental Islam’s Cultural Phenotype

By Gunnar Heinsohn

As the world decries Israel’s attempt to defend itself from the
rocket attacks coming from Gaza, consider this: When Hamas routed
Fatah in Gaza in 2007, it cost nearly 350 lives and 1,000 wounded.
Fatah’s surrender brought only a temporary stop to the type of
violence and bloodshed that are commonly seen in lands where at least
30% of the male population is in the 15-to-29 age bracket.

In such “youth bulge” countries, young men tend to eliminate each
other or get killed in aggressive wars until a balance is reached
between their ambitions and the number of acceptable positions
available in their society. In Arab nations such as Lebanon (150,000
dead in the civil war between 1975 and 1990) or Algeria (200,000 dead
in the Islamists’ war against their own people between 1999 and
2006), the slaughter abated only when the fertility rates in these
countries fell from seven children per woman to fewer than two. The
warring stopped because no more warriors were being born.

In Gaza, however, there has been no demographic disarmament. The
average woman still bears six babies. For every 1,000 men aged 40-44,
there are 4,300 boys aged 0-4 years. In the U.S., the latter figure
is 1,000 and in the U.K. it’s only 670.

And so the killing continues. In 2005, when Israel was still an
occupying force, Gaza lost more young men to gang fights and crime
than in its war against the “Zionist enemy.” Despite the media’s
obsession with the Mideast conflict, it has cost many fewer lives
than the youth bulges in West Africa, Lebanon or Algeria. In the six
decades since Israel’s founding, “only” some 62,000 people (40,000
Arabs, 22,000 Jews) have been killed in all the Israeli-Arab wars and
Palestinian terror attacks.

During that same time, some 11 million Muslims have been killed in
wars and terror attacks-mostly at the hands of other Muslims.

What accounts for the Mideast conflict’s relatively low body count?
Hamas and their ilk certainly aim to kill as many Israelis as possible.
To their indignation, the Israelis are quite good at protecting
themselves. On the other hand, Israel, despite all the talk about its
“disproportionate” use of force, is doing its utmost to spare
civilian deaths. Even Hamas acknowledges that most of the
Palestinians killed by Israeli air raids are from their own ranks.
But about 10%-15% of Gaza’s casualties are women and minors-a tragedy
impossible to prevent in a densely settled area in which nearly half
the people are under 15 and the terrorists hide among them.

The reason for Gaza’s endless youth bulge is that a large majority of
its population does not have to provide for its offspring. Most
babies are fed, clothed, vaccinated and educated by UNRWA, the United
Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near
East. Unlike the U.N. High Commission for Refugees, which deals with the rest of the
world’s refugees and aims to settle them in their respective host
countries, UNWRA perpetuates the Palestinian problem by classifying
as refugees not only those who originally fled their homes, but all
of their descendents as well.

UNRWA is benevolently funded by the U.S. (31%) and the European Union
(nearly 50%)-only 7% of the funds come from Muslim sources. Thanks to
the West’s largesse, nearly the entire population of Gaza lives in a
kind of lowly but regularly paid dependence. One result of this
unlimited welfare is an endless population boom. Between 1950 and
2008, Gaza’s population has grown from 240,000 to 1.5 million. The
West basically created a new Near Eastern people in Gaza that at
current trends will reach three million in 2040. Within that period,
Gazans may alter the justifications and directions of their
aggression but are unlikely to stop the aggression itself.

The Hamas-Fatah truce of June 2007 allowed the Islamists again to
direct all their energy on attacking Israel. The West pays for food,
schools, medicine and housing, while Muslim nations help out with the
military hardware. Unrestrained by such necessities as having to earn
a living, the young have plenty of time on their hands for digging
tunnels, smuggling, assembling missiles and firing 4,500 of them at
Israel since 2006. While this gruesome activity has slowed the
Palestinian internecine slaughter, it forced some 250,000 Israelis into
bomb shelters.

The current situation can only get worse. Israel is being pushed into
a corner. Gazan teenagers have no future other than war. One rocket
master killed is immediately replaced by three young men for whom a
martyr’s death is no less honorable than victory. Some 230,000 Gazan
males, aged 15 to 29, who are available for the battlefield now, will be
succeeded by 360,000 boys under 15 (45% of all Gazan males) who could
be taking up their arms within the coming 15 years.

As long as we continue to subsidize Gaza’s extreme demographic
armament, young Palestinians will likely continue killing their
brothers or neighbors. And yet, despite claiming that it wants to
bring peace to the region, the West continues to make the population
explosion in Gaza worse every year. By generously supporting UNWRA’s
budget, the West assists a rate of population increase that is 10
times higher than in their own countries. Much is being said about
Iran waging a proxy war against Israel by supporting Hezbollah and
Hamas. One may argue that by fueling Gaza’s untenable population
explosion, the West unintentionally finances a war by proxy against the
Jews of Israel.

If we seriously want to avoid another generation of war in Gaza, we
must have the courage to tell the Gazans that they will have to start
looking after their children themselves, without UNRWA’s help. This
would force Palestinians to focus on building an economy instead of
freeing them up to wage war. Of course, every baby lured into the
world by our money up to now would still have our assistance.

If we make this urgently needed reform, then by at least 2025 boys in
Gaza-like in Algeria-would enter puberty as only sons. They would be
able to look forward to a more secure future in a less violent society.

If the West prefers calm around Gaza even before 2025, it may
consider offering immigration to those young Palestinians only born
because of the West’s well-meant but cruelly misguided aid. In the
decades to come, North America and Europe will have to take in tens
of millions of immigrants anyway to slow the aging of their
populations. If, say, 200,000 of them are taken from the 360,000 boys
coming of age in Gaza in the next 15 years, that would be a
negligible move for the big democracies but a quantum leap for peace in
the Near East.

Many of Gaza’s young-like in much of the Muslim world-dream of
leaving anyway. Who would not want to get out of that strip of land
but the international NGO’s and social workers whose careers depend
on perpetuating Gaza’s misery.

Mr. Heinsohn heads the Raphael Lemkin Institute at the University of Bremen, Europe’s first institute devoted to comparative genocide research.

Fwded by Dov Henis


Two questions: the definition of the term “West Bank” seems to be taken for granted but is confusing to some of us. Would you define it and put it in perspective? 2. What is the basis of the seemingly overwhelming backing of Israel by the U.S. Government?


Dear World Focus,
some questions for your panel:
(1) Isn’t the situation in Gaza the result of 60 years of Arab refusal to settle the Arab
refugee issue? Isn’t the whole idea to use the Arab refugee issue as a permanent
propaganda and political weapon against Israel?
(2) Between 1948 and 1967, Egypt had Gaza and Jordan had the West Bank. Why did they not
establish a Palestinian state then?
(3) Israel uplifted hundreds of thousand of Jewish refugees from Arab lands. Why did the
Arab world not do the same for the similar number of Arab refugees? Especially as the
Arab world started the wars and had the West Bank and Gaza between 1948 and 1967?
(4) How long will it take for the media to contrast the way Israel uplifted Jews who
fled, or were expelled from, Iraq, Libya, Tunisia, …, with the way Arab lands keep
descendants of Palestinian refugees stateless? The Jewish refugees came to Israel
penniless, and lived in tent towns, but in a few decades ceased to be a problem.
(5) How can there ever be peace when Iranian backed groups like Hamas and Hezbollah
proclaim their primary goal is the end of Israel and the death, expulsion of all Jews? Is
the current conflict not partly the product of decades of incitement and indoctrination
across the Arab world?

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