On an Arab Referendum
On an Arab Referendum

Conversations with Israel Zwick

Appeal to Pro-Israel Writers

Dear Author/Publisher

Your are receiving this e-mail because in the past you have written or distributed articles promoting peace and security for the State of Israel. This letter is FOR YOUR EYES ONLY and not meant for general distribution, though you may use your judgment to forward it to others who may be helpful in this endeavor.

Your past articles have favored or promoted some variation of the following concepts:

1. NO to Palestinian state on YESHA territories -EVER. If the Arabs and international community insist on creating another Arab-Muslim State, let them do it on the vast areas of empty Arab lands, not on overcrowded areas of the Jewish homeland.
2. NO - to the Sharon Disengagement Plan. Jews have every right to live in these areas and they should not be declared Judenrein.
3. YES - to permanent Israeli control of the YESHA territories. These areas should become part of the permanent, internationally recognized boundaries of the State of Israel, with Jerusalem as its capital.
4. YES - to the State of Israel always being under Jewish dominance and control. While other nationalities and religions may live there, Israel will always be a Jewish State and haven for Jews. It will always retain its Jewish character.

If you are in favor of some variation of the above concepts, then you know that there is only one way to achieve this: voluntary transfer of the majority of the Arab population in YESHA to other countries. While this may sound improbable in the current political climate, it is not impossible. Now is the time to promote this concept before it is too late. After all, the whole concept of a Jewish State seemed highly improbable in 1898 when Herzl convened the First Zionist Congress. If enough people promote the voluntary transfer of the Arab population, it could happen. It can be considered a viable solution for the following reasons.

1. The Arab population in the YESHA territories is among the highest population densities in the world, with over 500 people per square kilometer. A disjointed Arab state on YESHA territories could never be viable without heavy support from the international community.
2. No one has ever asked these Arab "refugees" if they would be willing to relocate elsewhere. Everyone speaks for them, but there has been no effort to determine what they want.
3. Arab families were eager to accept $25,000 from Saddam Hussein when their sons became suicide bombers. They would be happy to accept $50,000 to relocate elsewhere.
4. The concept that these Arabs have an emotional attachment to living in this area is erroneous. Hundreds of thousands of Arab-Muslim families have voluntarily relocated to Europe, USA, and Canada, at their own expense. Many of the Arab families in the UNRWA refugee camps would be happy to relocate if given the opportunity and presented with a good offer.

Now is the time for pro-Israel writers and commentators to emphasize the following points:

1. It is time to end the injustice of maintaining UNRWA refugee camps for four generations of Arabs.
2. The Arabs living in these 59 camps should have the opportunity for a secret-ballot referendum to determine what they really want, not what the UN, EU, PA, Hamas, or Hizbollah wants. In a fair, secret, and democratic referendum, it is likely that a large majority of the Arab "refugee" households would be willing to accept $50,000 to relocate to other Arab countries, Europe, or North America. They don't all have to go to the same place. The remainder who insist on staying can be absorbed by Israel or will have their own semi-autonomous government, similar to Vatican City.
3. This is the only solution that has long-term viability. An overcrowded disjointed Palestinian State will only lead to more friction and conflict.

Some relevant statistics:

About 3 million Arabs are estimated to live in YESHA. If the typical Arab household has about 10 members, that means there are about 300,000 households. Let's assume that 200, 000 households agree to relocate with a payment of $50, 000. That means that 20,000 households can be relocated for $1 billion. So for $2 billion per year, 40,000 households can be relocated voluntarily. All 200, 000 households can be relocated over 5 years for $10 billion plus the cost of housing construction. This year's budget for UNRWA alone is $500 million. That doesn't include the hundreds of millions donated to the PA from the EU, US, and World Bank. Perhaps, the referendum will produce other findings. Whatever it is, we should know what the Arab people want, not what Mahmoud Abbas, Tony Blair, or Condi Rice wants.

There has not been one word of protest from the international community and human rights organizations against the forced evacuation and transfer of 2000 Jewish households from YESHA. Then surely, they will have no right to protest if a democratic referendum supports voluntary transfer of the Arab population. Now is the time to promote this. Only then will the State of Israel, be able to live within "secure and recognized borders."

To properly promote this concept, it would be necessary to have data on refugee settlement from UNHCR and UNRWA. Several sources are provided here as an attachment. I would be willing to provide more on request. As a member of a college faculty, I have access to a large number of proprietary research databases. There is considerable documentation available and I would be willing to assist writers who wish to promote the concept of an Arab referendum and voluntary resettlement with compensation. This is the only true "roadmap" to peace. Any other road will only lead to a fatal collision.

Arlene letter 3/2/05

Dear Arlene

Yes, I am aware that you have written several articles on population transfer at the beginning of the intifada. I am also aware that Meir Kahane promoted the concept over 20 years ago (www.kahane.org). As you know, I am an admirer of your ideas and they influenced my thinking. What I am adding is the following:
1. Before there is any discussion of population transfer, disengagement, or Palestinian statehood, there should be a scientifically designed, democratic, secure referendum among the so-called "Palestinian refugees" to determine what they really want, not what they are told by their leaders.
2. If they would favor resettlement to other countries, then it should be strictly voluntary, with compensation of about $50,000 per household, but the exact amount can be open.

Let's review some basic information.
1. According to the UNWRA website, they are maintaining 4 generations of "Palestinian refugees" scattered among 59 refugee camps in Gaza, WB, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria. About 3 million are estimated to be in YESHA (Gaza, WB) and about one million elsewhere. UNRWA currently has 25,000 employees and an annual budget of $500 million, far greater than UNHRC which monitors 17 million refugees in 100 countries.
2. According to the plan being publicly promoted by Israel's "friends," Tony Blair and Condi Rice, Gaza and WB will become a Palestinian state and homeland for these 4 million people. Then everyone will be happy and all the swords will become plowshares.
3. Under the Abbas, Blair, Rice plan, there would be 4 million Arabs living in less than 7000 square kilometers, one of the highest population densities in the world. The remaining, reduced State of Israel would consist of about 22000 square kilometers with 5 million Jews and 1 million Arabs. This is not a recipe for peace. The disjointed Palestinian state would act like pincers around the Jewish State to ultimately destroy it.

What I am proposing is that there first be a scientifically designed referendum among the UNRWA population to determine what they really want, not what Abbas and Hamas want. If properly conducted, ten well-designed questions would probably give us the answers that we need. My premise is that most of the UNRWA population would not really want to live in an overcrowded PA State that would be under the influence of Hamas and Hizbollah. I believe that that if they were offered $50,000, a decent community in another country, and civil rights, they would grab it. End of refugees and end of conflict.
Now let's say that I'm wrong and the referendum indicates that the Arabs really do want to live within the 1947 boundaries of the British Palestine Mandate. That's also important to know. Then there would be 5 million Arabs and 5 million Jews living within 29,000 square kilometers. There would be pressure from the Arabs and the Israeli left to make one binational state that would no longer retain its Jewish character. Jerusalem would be renamed Al-Quds and all the streets named after Herzl, Jabotinsky, Weizmann, and Ben-Gurion would be renamed after Nasser, Sadat, Arafat, and Jimmy Carter. The true nature of Arab intent will become readily apparent. So an Arab referendum, if properly conducted, would be a win-win situation for the State of Israel. What happens after the referendum would depend on the results. Transfer, separation, or continued conflict. The roadmap should be determined by a referendum, not by the Quartet.

David letter, March 4, 2004

Dear David:

While I respect your knowledge and opinions, you were still the only one who responded negatively to my proposals. Therefore, I plan to continue to promote my proposal for an Arab referendum, in the hope that it will gain momentum among pro-Israel activists. I hope that we can continue our dialogue in friendship, and disagree in an amicable manner. After all, we're still both working for the same goals.
However, with your permission, I would like to make one more attempt to win you over to my side of the fence. I believe you can be a valuable player, so it's worth the effort. I don't know where you come from, but I'm from New York City, which has a multi-ethnic population larger than the entire State of Israel. Every Election Day in November, there are usually a few local issues that are brought to a YES-NO referendum vote. The advocates for each side usually present their arguments in the media during the month before the election. Some of the newspapers will have editorial and op-ed features on the issues. The informed voters will then come to the polls to determine the outcome, YES or NO. That's democracy. That's all that I'm asking for the Arabs living in the UNRWA camps. Nothing racist or discriminatory that would be objectionable.
A group of five to ten carefully worded questions, requiring only a YES-NO response, could provide beneficial information for all parties in the conflict. Here are a few crude examples:
1. If you were given a suitable offer, would you be willing to resettle in another Arab country?
2. If you were offered a cash payment of $25,000 per household to resettle in another country of your choice, would you still want to live within the 1947 boundaries of the British Palestine Mandate?
3. If you were offered a cash payment of $50,000 per household to resettle in another country of your choice, would you still want to live within the 1947 boundaries of the British Palestine Mandate?
4. If you were offered a cash payment of $100,000 per household to resettle in another country of your choice, would you still want to live within the 1947 boundaries of the British Palestine Mandate?
5. If you were offered $50, 000 per household to resettle in another Arab country of your choice, would you still prefer to live in a Palestinian State composed of Gaza and the West Bank?
6. If you were offered $50, 000 per household to resettle in a European country of your choice, would you still prefer to live in a Palestinian State composed of Gaza and the West Bank?
7. If you were offered $50, 000 per household to resettle in a community in North America, would you still prefer to live in a Palestinian State composed of Gaza and the West Bank?
8. Would you accept a cash payment of $50,000 per household to resettle in another Arab community of your choice, outside of the 1947 boundaries of the British Palestine Mandate?

These are just some rough questions that quickly came to mind. I'm sure that a team of professionals could produce a better group of questions. Can you see how the responses to these questions, when analyzed, could provide valuable information that would be beneficial for both Arabs and Israelis? I acknowledge that there is a concern that the Arabs would answer honestly, without fear of reprisals from Hamas or Islamic Jihad. That is an issue that would have to be addressed by security officials. Apparently, terrorist reprisals were not a major concern in the recent elections in Iraq and Palestinian Authority, which had a large voter turnout.
Do you understand how the responses to these innocuous questions could provide valuable information that would benefit, not threaten, the UNRWA population? If not, I would be willing to provide you with more clarification. Do you still have objections, or do you agree that an Arab referendum is a desirable goal?

Kol Tuv

Israel Zwick

Letter to Steven, March 8, 2005 RE: Arab referendum

Dear Steven:

Thank you for your interest and comments regarding my proposal for an Arab referendum on voluntary resettlement with compensation. While I sympathize with your views that such a referendum shouldn't really be necessary because it's the only realistic solution, I also realize that in today's political climate a referendum would be beneficial for all parties involved. The State of Israel would especially benefit from such a referendum, no matter what the outcome would be. If that seems somewhat enigmatic or paradoxical, please allow me to explain. I would like to present scenarios for four possible outcomes (though there could be more) and illustrate how each outcome would help the State of Israel plan for a more peaceful and secure future.

Scenario #1. This is what I expect. The PA, Arab leaders, and UNRWA will resist any pressure for a referendum for the UNRWA population. That's because they're afraid of the outcome. They're afraid that the referendum will reveal that most of the "refugees" really have no great desire to live in Gaza or the West Bank. They would be happy to live almost anywhere where they would enjoy decent living conditions and civil rights. They have not been getting that from UNRWA and the PA, despite the many billions of dollars that were donated to them from international sources. Resistance to a referendum would reveal the lies and deception that anti-Israel policies stem from "concern for the humanitarian rights of the Palestinian people." After all, what could be a more basic humanitarian right than the right to vote and express an opinion? To deny that would be to deny basic rights to the Palestinian people. That would suggest that anti-Israel bias really stems from anti-semitism, greed, money, oil, and politics, not from an interest in protecting the "humanitarian rights of the Palestinian people." In this case, the State of Israel would not have to accede to demands made by the UN, EU, ISM, or leftist Israelis. If these groups were really interested in basic civil rights, they would support the right of the "refugees" to vote and express their opinions.

Scenario #2. This is the worst-case scenario. In this case, 80% of the UNRWA population would vote that they really only want to live within the 1947 boundaries of British Palestine, and don't want to live anywhere else no matter how much money you give them. This would reveal the true intent of the Arab people, that they want to destroy the State of Israel by demographic means. They want 5 million Arabs and 5 million Jews to live within a 29,000 sq. km. Area. Then, there would be international pressure to replace Israel with a binational state. The Jewish character of the State of Israel would be dissolved. Gradually, the flag, anthem, language, holidays, and street names would be changed to reflect the binational character of the population. In this case, Israelis would realize that they are in a demographic war with the Arabs, and they have to treat it like a war. They would have to immediately terminate disengagement plans because that would only increase Arab demographics. Israel would have to do the opposite: expand Jewish settlements, increase incentives for Jewish immigration, and restrict Arab settlement. Any Arab living within the 1947 boundaries should be offered a free one-way ticket to anywhere they want to go, as long as they agree not to come back. All this can be done publicly in the interests of national security. It would be the same as buying tanks and fighter bombers: defensive measures to preserve the integrity of the State.

Scenario #3. This is a more likely scenario. In this case, 50% of the UNRWA population would agree to accept $50,000 compensation to resettle outside of the 1947 boundaries and forego forever their "right of return." In that case, the international community should acknowledge their desires and resettle them in other countries with full civil rights. Israel would retain control of Gaza and West Bank. There would be about 5 million Jews and 2.5 million Arabs living within the 29,000 sq. km. The emphasis would be to promote peaceful coexistence. The Arabs could be given an opportunity for a semi-autonomous government modeled after Vatican City, Puerto Rico, or some other creative arrangement. The Arab population would have some form of representation in the Knesset. Passports, currency, and security would remain under Israeli control. The Jewish character of the State would be preserved and guaranteed by international agreement.

Scenario #4. This is the best-case scenario. In this case, 80% of the UNRWA population votes to accept $50, 000 compensation to resettle outside of the 1947 borders. This would end the myth of the "Palestinian people." It would demonstrate that the so-called Palestinians are no different from other Arab-Muslims and would be just as happy living elsewhere with their own people. The international community should resettle 3 million Arab "refugees" in other countries, outside of the 1947 borders. That would leave 1.5 million Arabs and 5 million Jews in the 1947 borders. Israel would annex YESHA which would become the internationally recognized borders of the State of Israel with Jerusalem as its capital. The remaining Arabs living within those boundaries would be granted the same civil rights as Israeli Arabs enjoy now. No more refugees, and end of conflict.

I believe that a free, democratic, and secure Arab referendum would demonstrate conclusively that Arab resettlement is the intervention of choice. In my professional work, intervention is always preceded by assessment. In this case, before there is any decision to implement a drastic, irrevocable intervention such as disengagement, Palestinian State, or separation, a number of questions need to be answered. What do the Arab people, not their leaders, really want? What would be the outcome of the disengagement-eviction plan? Would it really be possible to separate 4 million Arabs and 5 million Jews living within 29,000 sq. km? Would a Palestinian State consisting of 6000 sq. km of disjointed land, with a population of 4 million Arabs, really be functional and viable? Would this arrangement really lead to peace, or more friction and conflict? The only accurate way to get these answers would be through a democratic, secure referendum.
I'm sorry that I took so long to respond to your concerns with such a lengthy reply. I wanted to address your concerns as completely as possible. I hope this is adequate. Please let me know.

Kol tuv
Israel Zwick

Israel Zwick

(c) 2005, I. Zwick, NYC

Israel Zwick is a commentator on the Middle East based in New York.

Reprinted by permission.