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January 12, 2009

Too Many Young Men

"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."

The above is from a brilliant article in the International Wall Street Journal by Gunnar Heinsohn. He continues:

"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."

Between 1950 (two years after Israel was founded) and 2008 Gaza's population has swelled from 250,000 to 1.5 million. That's why we keep hearing that the current fighting is happening in "some of the most densely populated areas on earth". Heinsohn attributes the high birth rate in Gaza to welfare funded mainly by the West and administered by the UN.

"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, UNRWA perpetuates the Palestinian problem by classifying as refugees not only those who originally fled their homes, but all of their descendents as well."

By the UN logic Mary (3d generation American) is an Irish refugee and I (2d generation) am a refugee from Russia. It suits those who would like to keep conflict alive in the Mideast to create a growing and permanent refugee class. Remember that towns in Gaza and on the West Bank are still referred to as "refugee camps". But the original refugees are far outnumbered by those who should've been allowed to integrate with the indigenous population of the areas where they resettled after the partition of Palestine. The Jews who were driven from the parts of Palestine allotted to Arabs were quickly resettled in Israel proper and are not regarded, any longer, as refugees. Some Jews did go back to the West Bank and Gaza as "settlers", however; that was a mistake which Israel is only now lately trying to disengage from and which the whole region does suffer from.

The pathology of young men organizing into killing gangs is nothing new. It's happening in Africa today; in US inner cities; and in other parts of the world. It's easier to diagnose the problem than to solve it. Heinsohn suggests that the US and Europe allow many of the young men in Gaza to immigrate and help alleviate the youth gap we, ourselves, will be facing as well as the youth surplus we helped create there.

Heinsohn insists that to prevent the situation growing even worse "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." He doesn't say where they will get jobs in Gaza's almost non-existent economy. The only real hope for that is trade with Israel (which used to exist) and eventually outsourcing on the Indian model to the rest of the world (my opinion).

Heinsohn suggests that the US and Europe allow many of the young men in Gaza to immigrate and help solve the youth gap we, ourselves, will be facing as well as the youth surplus we helped create there:

"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 NGOs and social workers whose careers depend on perpetuating Gaza's misery?"

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