Reprinted from Mondoweiss
Today in a news article, the New York Times described Palestinian refugees as posing a "demographic death warrant" to Israel. The article is about Israel's response to the boycott movement, which supports the right of return of refugees:
"Most Israeli Jews, as well as many outside experts, see either such a one-state solution or the return of all refugees and their descendants as a demographic death warrant for Israel as a Jewish state, which is how it was founded in 1948."
Written by Jerusalem bureau chief Jodi Rudoren, that line drew harsh criticism from our community. Natasha Barakat:
Did @rudoren really refer to children as a "demographic death warrant"? I'm shocked.
In what circumstances would you consider it acceptable to call presence of Jews a "death warrant" to ANYTHING?
Dan Cohen tweeted the photo above:
Palestinians in Gaza use shipping containers to store what @rudoren calls "a demographic death warrant for Israel"
It's unacceptable that you refer to the mere existence of Palestinians as destructive threat that brings with it death
Jodi Rudoren has responded to Khalek that she wasn't saying that the right of return is a death warrant for Jews, but for the Jewish state.
People who closely follow the conflict know that the "demographic threat" argument for preserving Israel is widely considered racist. The argument is that Israel must take pains to establish a Palestinian state alongside it because otherwise Jews will cease to be a majority in the lands under their dominion (they probably already are a minority), and therefore that the Jewish character of the state will be at risk.
Of course, anyone who used such language in the United States to refer to black people or Jews or Muslims, or any other minority threatening the white or Christian character of anything would lose their job in an instant.
But Israel is always different; after all, it was founded on the premise of establishing a "strong Jewish majority" so as to be the homeland of the Jewish people. Two years ago Barack Obama called for the two-state solution, saying:
"Given the demographics west of the Jordan River, the only way for Israel to endure and thrive as a Jewish and democratic state is through the realization of an independent and viable Palestine."