Akiva Eldar
Haaretz (Opinion)
October 16, 2012 - 12:00am

Amid a dry economic report published yesterday in TheMarker lies an official announcement/acknowledgment of unparalleled importance: The government of Israel confirms that between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River there is no longer a Jewish majority. In other words, in the territory under Israel's jurisdiction a situation of apartheid exists. A Jewish minority rules over an Arab majority.

Hila Raz's article reports that the Tax Authority is trying to pass an amendment to the law for the purpose of revising the ceiling for eligibility for tax benefits, whose aim, in turn, is to encourage exports. According to the Export Promotion Law approved in 2005, a factory is entitled to a tax break if at least 25 percent of its income stemmed from sales to a market with at least 12 million residents. A Ministry of Finance memorandum on the amendment to the law notes that in 2011 the population of Israel and the Palestinian Authority exceeded the 12 million mark, which enables manufacturers who market to these consumers to enjoy a tax break. The Tax Authority's diligent officials would like to raise the threshold for qualifying for the benefit by two million residents, so that they will not have to grant the benefit to exporters who sell their wares in Israel and the territories.

According to the Central Bureau of Statistics (which is subordinate to the Prime Minister's Office ), of the 12 million residents living under Israeli rule, the number of Jews is just under 5.9 million (as of April 25 ). Twelve million minus 5.9 million Jews equals 6.1 million non-Jews. In other words, between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, there is a pretty Jewish state as far as its laws and customs, but the reality is not so democratic. Foreign sources report that Jews had already become a minority in the area of the greater Land of Israel several years ago. From now on, it is an official statistic.

There will certainly be those who argue that the 12 million includes the resident of the Gaza Strip, which Israel evacuated, and that I should have deducted 1.5 million people from the number of non-Jewish residents. But the 12 million, which does happen to include the residents of the Gaza Strip, is an official figure appearing on Ministry of Finance stationery. If this population "is not considered" for purposes of the demographic balance, the Finance Ministry should be so kind as to deduct it from the limit for receiving the tax breaks and from the balance of its income.

U.S. intel cries 'apartheid'

The term "apartheid" features prominently in an article in the on-line magazine Foreign Policy Journal on a new "confidential report" prepared by 16 American intelligence agencies. Franklin Lamb reported from Beirut to the Foreign Policy Journal on the "confidential report, which he claims compares Israel to the apartheid regime in South Africa. The document, he says, warns that the Arab Spring and the Muslim awakening will encourage 1.2 billion Muslims to fight against what they refer to as "the immoral European occupation of Palestine." Lamb argues that the report accuses Israel of intervening in internal American affairs via 60 organizations and some 7,500 administration officials. The report, Lamb says, advises the United States to leave Israel alone as its existence sabotages the American interest in moving closer to the Arab world and the Iranian people.

A quick Google search reveals interesting details about Lamb; you can find him in friendly pose with the arch-terrorist Samir Kuntar. His profile states that he is a board member of the Sabra-Shatila Foundation, a volunteer with the Palestinian Civil Rights Campaign, a regular guest on talk shows of Hezbollah's Al-Manar station and a contributing writer to the Electronic Intifada site. It is hard to believe that Republican Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen bothered to scrutinize the scoop maker. Otherwise even an ardent supporter of the Netanyahu government like her would not have waved Lamb's above-mentioned article in the meetings she is having with Florida Jewish communities as convincing proof that Hussein Obama is an enemy of Israel.

Netanyahu may not need to worry about reports that "the intelligence report will be presented to President Obama." However, ahead of the U.S. elections, the prime minister certainly must raise his level of concern over all matters of U.S.-Israel relations. Leaving aside the exaggerations scattered throughout the article on "the report," the findings attributed to it reflect the prevailing White House attitude toward Netanyahu. The official acknowledgment that Jews have become a minority in the land of Israel could only reinforce the claims against Israeli rule over the Palestinians and the international support, including that of the Americans, for establishing a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders. It is unnecessary to dwell on what the prime minister may expect if Obama remains in the White House for four more years. But even if Mitt Romney spends the next four years there, Obama will continue to hold full presidential authority until January 20, 2013.

Reminder: President Reagan's decision to open a dialogue with the PLO (following the organization's declaration of independence on the basis of UN Resolution 242, which includes recognition of Israel ) was made during a period of transition, after the 1988 U.S. election. It was Reagan's revenge on Yitzhak Shamir for impeding the peace process and the London Agreement for an international peace conference. In the present case, the transition overlaps with an Israeli election campaign. What damage would an outgoing President Obama incur if the day after the November 6 U.S. elections, he instructs the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations to support Palestine's bid to join the organization? On the other hand, a campaigning Netanyahu will not have a problem turning that move into additional proof that the whole world is against us and therefore the country really needs a strong leader.

Boycotting the boycotters

The umbrella group of Jewish organizations in Canada, the Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA ), recently instructed its operatives, including Hillel branches on college campuses, to distance themselves from all those calling for a boycott of the settlements. Consequently they refused to host American Jewish author Peter Beinart and sidelined Canadian Friends of Peace Now. In response to the United Church of Canada's decision to boycott products from the settlements, CIJA leaders decided to boycott the interreligious dialogue program with the church. Steve McDonald, the CIJA associate director of communications, said in response that while the organization holds open discussions on the issue of the settlements, it fights against the use of boycotts. No, the associate director said, he was certain he saw no inherent contradiction. There are bad boycotts and there are good boycotts.


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