Can Israel SURVIVE Without the Palestinians?

Suppose that Ariel Sharon gets his wish, and Israel completes its barrier fence between itself and the territories. Then, Gaza is withdrawn from. Now (theoretically) Israel can bar anyone whom it suspects of terrorist activities. What would be the economic impact upon Israel? Take the farming/agricultural sector…almost all of the farm work now is done by palestinian labor. Or the service jobs (waiters, laundry workers, construction work) now being done by palestinians…it seems to me that their removal would probably have a very serious effect upon the Israeli economy.
I have heard that Israel now imports laborers (from the Philippines and Thailand)-this must be very costly. Are the Israelis unwilling to do manual work? Could the country survive with most of its menial jobs being unfilled? :confused:


This is an argument I frequently hear from anti-Israel people along the standard lines of “the Jews are all a bunch of rich bastards who don’t do real work for themselves.” Not that I’m accusing you of being this type of person, I’m just saying they always say this.

Israel has Jews of both rich and poor backgrounds. It’s not like America, where the last Jewish steelworker or maid vanished a few decades ago; Israel’s Jews vary greatly in economic background. Many different jobs are accounted for.

Who says these sorts of things, other than you? Can you point to one cite?

Very few Palestinians have been coming through to work in Israel over the past 3 years - maybe 5% of before. They’ve largely been replaced by workers from various Third World or East Block nations, like Thailand, Nigeria or Romania.

Who says these things? A cite on the Internet? That’s not what I mean. I happen to live in a liberal college town where a lot of people for some reason have an axe to grind against Israel, and this is one of their standard arguments “Israel exploits Palestinian labor.” I’m sick of hearing it, that’s all.

Are you claiming that there are no low-income or working class Jewish people in America? That seems unlikely. A higher percentage of Jewish people do enter white collar professions and the average income is a bit higher which I think you can attribute to the cultural emphasis on education and learning. However an education does not guarantee a high income.

There are low-income Jews in America: Orthodox Jews. There are several Orthodox Jewish cousins of mine on my mother’s side with many children, small houses, and low-paying jobs.

However there really isn’t a Jewish working class to speak of like there used to be.

Some cites to provide some real data.

So in short, Israel can do without Palestinian labor. Overly generous unemployment benefits could be reduced to some sort of “workfare” concept, or they could continue to import foriegn workers, legal and otherwise. A negotiated settlement with open but secure borders would be better for Israel than a fence. But the negotiated settlement solution would be even better for the Palestinians. They need the jobs more than Israel needs them. A negotiated settlement could include promises of economic development and investment within a nascant Palestine. Deals over tax revenues on employment opf Palestinian citizens within Israel. Now all we need is a pragmatic leader to displace Arafat and actually negotiate in good faith. Without that we have Sharon taking a good idea, a seperation fence that was supposed to follow the Green Line as closely as possible, and twisting it into an unteneble political incursion through the occupied territory. Idiot.

I think the title of this thread is actually backwards. Palestine (assuming it comes into being within the next few years, which while Arafat is around is far from certain. No, I don’t want to get started on that in this thread - there are plenty others!) probably cannot stand on its own economic legs for some time to come. They need the Israeli market to work in far more than the Israeli market needs them - while it is oh so true that Israelis don’t want to do blue-collar work, the Israeli market has adapted to the absence of the Palestinian laborers by bringing in many foreigners - some legal and some illegal - from around the globe (Romania, China, Thailand and the Philipines come to mind as primary sources).

Whether or not Israelis may eventually adjust to having a real local working class remains to be seen; but in the meantime, the nearly complete lack of Palestinian labor in Israel is hurting their economy more than ours.

BTW - I think part of the OP’s misunderstanding may be that there are some Arab-Israelis doing relatively low-level low-pay work; but these are Israeli citizens, not residents of the Occupied Territories. It is the latter who have disappeared from the Israeli labor market, to be replaced by foreigners.


Hmmmm. You relie on the arguments of people who have an axe to grind against Israel, why is that? Why don’t you express your views on the subject?

…for the cites. this is really amazing…ifyou count illegal alien workers, the foreign population of Israel must be about 350,000 people! This is a considerable minority…no doubt, these people will be most reluctant to return to their third-world countries. The impact of such a large, non-native group settling (permanently) in Israel must be disconcerting to the Zionists.
Will Israel in this century become a “melting pot”?

As long as they don’t get citizenship, it won’t.

A big if clairobscur.

If one assumes peace in the foreseeable future (an act of unmitigated optimism to be sure), the future nature of Israeli identity is an open question. 20% of current Israeli citizens are Arab. If foreign workers stay and have children born in Israel, are those children citizens, even if the worker was not? If so, you are adding another perhaps 10% non-Jewish population to the docket, both of whom have higher birth rates than secular Jewish Israelis (the Orthodox minority has a higher birth rate but still are fairly small group relative to secular Jews in Israel). In peacetime Palestinian Arabs may want to move to Israel for better economic prospects and a shorter commute.

How many years til Israel loses its Jewish character under those assumptions, or at what cost does it maintain it?