What the heck is a youth bulge? It’s a huge number of young people (especially male) among a population. And it causes lots of trouble.
The first I heard of it was in a post by Andy McCarthy on the Corner. He linked to an article by Gunnar Heinsohn in the Wall Street Journal, who heads “an institute devoted to comparative genocide research.” In case you think that sounds softheaded and useless, his article is extremely hardheaded and useful. Only one of his recommendations is bad. Really bad. I’ll get to that later.
Heinsohn’s article is called “Ending the West’s Proxy War Against Israel: Stop funding a Palestinian youth bulge, and the fighting will stop too. ” He writes of ” 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.
Compared to other “youth bulge” countries, the death toll among Israel’s enemies is low. That’s because Israel does not target civilians and tries to avoid killing them (even though its enemies do everything they can to get their civilians killed).
Then he gets to the heart of the matter. The reason for the youth bulge is that the people of Gaza do not have to support their children. We are supporting them — you and I, through our taxes!
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.
UNRWA is benevolently funded by the U.S. (31%) and the European Union (nearly 50%) — only 7% of the funds come from Muslim sources. Thanks to the West’s largesse, nearly the entire population of Gaza lives in a kind of lowly but regularly paid dependence. One result of this unlimited welfare is an endless population boom. Between 1950 and 2008, Gaza’s population has grown from 240,000 to 1.5 million. The West basically created a new Near Eastern people in Gaza that at current trends will reach three million in 2040. Within that period, Gazans may alter the justifications and directions of their aggression but are unlikely to stop the aggression itself.
Gazan children are brought up to see war as their only future. Here and here are two videos that show the horrifying militarization of childhood there. There is scarcely any economy there; why should there be when the people can live on welfare? They destroyed the economic infrastructure Israelis left them when they vacated Gaza — modern greenhouses, from which the Israelis made a good living, as well as brand-new computers to help the greenhouse business, supplied by an American donor. Smashed up, all of it.
By generously supporting UNRWA’s budget, the West assists a rate of population increase that is 10 times higher than in their own countries. Much is being said about Iran waging a proxy war against Israel by supporting Hezbollah and Hamas. One may argue that by fueling Gaza’s untenable population explosion, the West unintentionally finances a war by proxy against the Jews of Israel.
Heinsohn has two recommendations. The first follows obviously from his thesis:
If we seriously want to avoid another generation of war in Gaza, 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. Of course, every baby lured into the world by our money up to now would still have our assistance.
And then the bad one, which I’ll charitably say must have been an afterthought, not thought through.
If the West prefers calm around Gaza even before 2025, it may consider offering immigration to those young Palestinians only born because of the West’s well-meant but cruelly misguided aid. In the decades to come, North America and Europe will have to take in tens of millions of immigrants anyway to slow the aging of their populations. If, say, 200,000 of them are taken from the 360,000 boys coming of age in Gaza in the next 15 years, that would be a negligible move for the big democracies but a quantum leap for peace in the Near East.
Bring 200,000 young men who have been brought up to become terrorists into western countries? That’s a negligible move? I have a better idea. Those Muslim countries haven’t been paying their way to support UNRWA. Let them take these warrior children.
But aside from this final point, Mr. Heinsohn has made a valuable contribution to our understanding of the connection between refugee policies and violence. See Edward Luttwak’s article for another one I posted on.