Weighing In: A Simple Solution to a Simple Problem


On February 3, Martin Kramer, visiting scholar at Harvard’s Weatherhead Center, gave a six-minute speech at the annual Herzliya Conference in Herzliya, Israel (discussed by Jeremy below). In that short amount he time, he provided a clear call for the West to curb Gaza’s exploding population by ending pro-natal subsidies for Gazans:

“Aging populations reject radical agendas, and the Middle East is no different. Now eventually, this will happen among the Palestinians too, but it will happen faster if the West stops providing pro-natal subsidies for Palestinians with refugee status.”

Kramer, almost surprised at the backlash these words caused, justified himself in the following manner:

“I didn’t propose that Israel take a single additional measure beyond the sanctions it now imposes with the political aim of undermining Hamas. And I didn’t call on the West to “deliberately curb the births of Palestinians.” I called on it to desist from deliberately encouraging births through pro-natal subsidies for Palestinian “refugees,””

Starving the population of Gaza — and this is the clear implications of what Kramer is calling for — is more than a horrific idea. Kramer is reviving the ghost of eugenics that took a war to destroy. And, additionally, it’s far from a solution to the problem of radicalism. What I find the most disconcerting here is how comfortable Kramer feels in accusing “the West” of Gaza’s population growth. I say this: stop accusing, and look in the mirror. Nobody is perfect: neither Israel, America, the UN, nor Gaza, and the present situation in Gaza is the product of all these highly imperfect actors. Kramer overlooks Israel’s role and responsibility in fueling Gaza’s radicalism, not to mention its humanitarian crisis. Placing the blame on Gazans is too easy. Kramer has simplified the state of Gaza into the product of one variable: radicalism due to population growth. No wonder it took him only six minutes to speak.
Finally, Kramer’s assertion that population booms are directly correlated to radicalism is unfounded. Instead, population booms are directly correlated to radicalism when the population is restricted to 139 square miles of arid land. Population growth and radicalism are linked when there is no access to clean water, electricity, and proper healthcare. Population growth and radicalism are linked when raw sewage from your cities pile up on your beaches, and when you can list on your fingers the families members that have died from Israeli attacks in the last two years.
I thought that coerced population-control and starvation were things of fiction. Apparently not. The world is too complicated to afford such inhumane and simple-minded concepts.

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