Rabbi Meir Kahane HY"D v. Ehud K. Olmert on NightlineMore than twenty years ago, Rabbi Meir Kahane HY"D, who was then a member of the Knesset, debated a young MK named Ehud K. Olmert on Nightline. I posted this debate more than a year ago, but it's worth having another look (especially since my sound system now works!).
You will note that it is Kahane who worries about there being enough Arabs in Israel to create a demographic problem. Olmert dismisses the issue. What Kahane apparently did not anticipate was that the Arabs would be able to make the statistics lie and convince the world to believe them.
Other than that, Kahane - who was assassinated in November 1990 just a few blocks from my then-New York office - sounds like a prophet in this video. The issues he raises - that the Jewish Independence Day is considered a tragedy by the Arabs, the national anthem, the flag, the right of return etc. - are all issues raised by the Arabs today and were unanticipated by Olmert then. Whose views were correct? Kahane's or Olmert's?
The Jerusalem Post reports this morning that the Kahane - Olmert debate is the most viewed video by people searching for Olmert videos on YouTube. The video has been viewed by more than 33,700 people in the last year (that figure is updated from what the Post published this morning). What they don't mention is that the second most-viewed video has been viewed only 2600 times. Maybe people are smarter than Olmert thinks? Here are a couple of prescient comments from the Post:
The Nightline video begins with then-MK Meir Kahane (Kach) answering questions from host Ted Koppel about his calls for limiting Israeli citizenship to Jews due to the demographic threat posed by the higher Arab birth rate. Koppel then interviewed Olmert, who was then a Likud MK and a member of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.Maybe the time has come to stop listening to Olmert's ideas and to start listening to Kahane's?
"This is entirely incorrect," Olmert said about Kahane's argument that Arabs could eventually outnumber Jews between the Mediterranean Sea and Jordan River. "There are 700,000 Arabs in a country of 4 million people [referring to Israel without the Gaza Strip and the West Bank]. The chance that they will become a majority any time in the future is such a remote possibility that it in no way justifies the philosophy he preaches."
Probed further about the subject, Olmert said the solution was for Israeli Arabs to learn to live with Israel as a minority; he continued to deny that there was any demographic threat.
"The probability that I attach to [Arabs becoming a majority] is so small that I don't think that at this stage we have to give any answers," Olmert said.
When Kadima was founded in November 2005, Olmert and other Kadima leaders said the party would seek to create a Palestinian state due in part to studies predicting that there could soon be a majority of Arabs in Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
Olmert also sounded very different in speeches this week when he used the demographic threat as one of his main arguments for relaunching negotiations with the Palestinians at the Annapolis summit.
"We need to [create a Palestinian state] or we can end up like South Africa," Olmert told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday. "We need to maintain the Jewish majority and prevent the idea of two states for two peoples from being lost."
P.S. I am not and have never been a member of Kach or any of its progeny.