Your email is not valid
Recipient's email is not valid
Submit Close

Your email has been sent.

Click here to send another


Harvard Affiliate Lambasted Over Gaza Remarks

Kramer’s policies would lower birth rate

Print Email

A brouhaha has been brewing (brouhaha-ing?) over remarks that Martin Kramer—a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy currently serving out a visitor-ship at Harvard, as well as the president-designate of the forthcoming Shalem College in Israel—made at the Herzliya Conference in late February (covered for Tablet Magazine by Judith Miller).

Kramer spent most of his brief remarks establishing that violent radicalism is more or less inevitable in populations with a disproportionately high number of young-adult males. In the case of Gaza and its extremely high number of just such people—the consequence of an extremely high birth rate—Kramer proposes that aid agencies end pro-natal subsidies (which essentially guarantee care to future newborns) in order to lower that birthrate, lower the pool of violent young men, and bring peace:

eventually, this will happen among the Palestinians too, but it will happen faster if the West stops providing pro-natal subsidies for Palestinians with refugee status. Those subsidies are one reason why, in the ten years from 1997 to 2007, Gaza’s population grew by an astonishing 40 percent. At that rate, Gaza’s population will double by 2030, to three million. Israel’s present sanctions on Gaza have a political aim—undermine the Hamas regime—but if they also break Gaza’s runaway population growth—and there is some evidence that they have—that might begin to crack the culture of martyrdom which demands a constant supply of superfluous young men. That is rising to the real challenge of radical indoctrination, and treating it at its root.

The uproar to this has been predictable—indeed, one criticism you could make of Kramer is that he should have predicted it, and have taken better care at least to clarify his remarks. (I also think Kramer may have brought the academic’s correct love of experimental, extreme, half-held opinions into the unwelcome realm of politics.) Notable opponents include M.J. Rosenberg, who questioned whether Kramer wasn’t advocating genocide, and Stephen Walt, who rejects the genocide accusation but nonetheless called Kramer’s views “so offensive to any decent person that you don’t need to worry much about getting the right label for them,” as well as “barbaric and racist.”

The Harvard center supporting Kramer’s visitor-ship dismissed calls for it to disassociate from him. Kramer has also posted a self-defense, noting that all he proposes is removing the encouragement to procreation, not actively discouraging it.

There is no individual sentence in Kramer’s remarks that is incorrect, and the internal logic is consistent: the high birth rate does lead to increased terrorist violence; aid groups are encouraging that high birth rate; and so on.

But Kramer’s critics are, at least on the big question, correct. If the only solution to Hamas is to limit the Gaza Palestinian population, then there is no solution to Hamas. (And Kramer’s argument that it’s not limiting the population, only bringing it down to what it would be without those subsidies, is logically facile—no matter the reason, the birth rate is what it currently is—and morally insensitive, at the very least.) If the problem is too many young men with not enough to do, then the morally responsible solution has to be giving them something to do, not decreasing the number of young men.

Superfluous Young Men [Sandbox]
Is Harvard Prof Advocating Genocide? [HuffPo]
Should Harvard Dump Martin Kramer?
[Stephen Walt]
Smear Intifada [Sandbox]
Related: Herzliya Diary [Tablet Magazine]

Print Email

Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180

Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.

Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.

We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.

Aaron says:

The Palestinians have resorted to terrorism for the same reason Irgun and Lehi did – to get rid of unwanted occupiers. Birth rates have nothing to do with it.

barry says:

I disagree with your blanket equating of Hamas (et al) with Irgun and Lehi (et al) in general.

But arguendo, at least the latter were also involved in creating and maintaining agencies and institutions –a nascent state within a state–ready to take over when the Brits left.

Other than an odd social service agency or two, the PA is only now getting around to that–as their #2 sees this as a precondition before an anticipated declaration of statehood sometime next year.

tzvi says:

Kramer transcends the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Indeed, wars rely on enough supplies of testosterone. Gaza is no different.

fred lapides says:

I have been reading Kramer for a number of years. The view that he is preaching genocide for Palestinians is simply nonsense. Unlimited birth control imposes a set of problems for any people that grow in so unchecked a manner. There are problems of food, housing, jobs, education. Kramer was addressing those issues.

To get rid of unwanted occupiers: settle differences and forge a state by coming to the peace table.

Shalom Freedman says:

There is a broader problem touched upon here. It is that the international organizations such as UNRWA have worked to perpetuate Palestinian Arab refugee- status, and hostility to Israel. The Palestinians are the only people in the world who the U.N. allows to have third- and – fourth generation refugee status.

David Stolow says:

Kramer’s remarks are clearly not PC but he does have a point that ought to be pursued. Israel would solve the problem of Shabbat riots against Intel and other outrages perpetrated by Haredi youth who were born and live on massive government welfare and don’t have to work or do national service. Since Shalem Institute clearly has the ear of the current government (eg, Michael Oren and Natan Sharansky were both associated with the Institute before ascending to their current positions) perhaps Mr. Kramer could suggest ending the child subsidies and the mass transfers of public school funds to Haredi Yeshivas.

S., Michael says:

Kramer was the foreign policy advisor to Rudy Giuliani’s disastrous run for president. ‘Nuff said. I can’t believe Shalem Center is hiring this turkey, as there are some smart people there. Then again, Bill Kristol is on its board, so no idiocy on its part is too surprising.

The provenance of this argument is not Martin Kramer, it’s German sociologist Gunnar Heinsohn, who has written extensively about the “youth bulge” theory.

He summarized it in The Wall Street Journal:

Charles Stromeyer says:

There is already established scientific evidence that Martin Kramer’s recent policy proposal for the West to stop providing “pro-natal” subsidies to the Palestinians is fraudulent:

Since Kramer provides no credible explanation for why his unscientific policy prescription might work, I would argue that his idea is nothing more than hate speech. To the extent that “excessive” population growth might be a problem, I would argue that it should require an agreed upon, coordinated and global solution, rather than a specifically Palestinian solution.

Martin Kramer said at least twice that he is NOT advocating a genocidal solution, an assertion which clearly contradicts the UN Convention on Genocide of 1948. This is because, by definition, the opposite of “pro-natal” would be “contra-birth”.

Also, it is anti-Israel and anti-West to advocate that the West should adopt a policy which clearly violates both international law and established scientific theory, and it is thus an attempt to undermine legitimate U.S. and Israeli foreign policy (which might or might not amount to an act of sedition and which I have already reported to the FBI).

I have already officially reported Mr. Kramer to the FBI and to the UN Special Advisor for the Prevention of Genocide, alleging that Mr. Kramer tried to incite or encourage genocide via hate speech.

Finally, I have posted the above in the Harvard Crimson and on various blogs, etc. Since I cannot be sued within the U.S., I am hoping that Kramer will attempt to file a lawsuit against me so that I will be able to financially ruin both him and his supporters. Please forward this message to anyone who cares.

David Bar-Dov says:

Testosterone poisoning is a dangerous disease. Its’ effects are felt while driving any road in the Galil. When combined with radical Islamic Jew-hating, it is lethal.

Blain says:

Um, and what if he had promoted the reduction in births by encouraging allowing Palestinian women access to family planning services so they would have some say in their own reproductive rights? Do Palestinian women have no right to choose whether to be or stay pregnant? Would this be a call for genocide among Palestinians, but not among, say the Chinese?

Was Kramer’s biggest crime here speaking while pro-Israel?

Ephraim says:

The idea that Kramer is preaching genocide is arrant nonsense.

All he is saying is that people should stop sending money to people whose only industry is the production of homicide bombers.

The Palestinian Arabs, especially in Gaza, have shown no discernible desire to establish an independent, functioning state that can survive on its own without massive infusions of protection money…I mean, “international aid”. They have the children they have because they do not need to work to support themselves but can depend on handouts from various international aid agencies. This whole thing has turned into a racket that employs a huge number of people. If UNRWA were disbanded, as it should have been decades ago, the “refugee” birthrate would stabilize itself naturally according to the number of children people could actually support. As it is, the free money the “refugees” get does nothing but fuel their jihad since they suffer no penalties for their behavior.

Ask the Sudeten Germans how international support for their desire to return to their homes in the Sudetenland worked out. That is precisely the model that should be followed here: defeated aggressors get no rewards for their failed aggression or help to keep it up.

For what its worth, I agree that the Israeli government subsidization of the haredi community should be stopped also. Nothing helps people grow up and become useful more than having to go out and get a job.

Charles Stromeyer says:

I support the current Israeli strategy of trying to increase discord between the leaders of Hamas and Fatah.

However, I don’t support Kramer’s unscientific proposal because the Israeli organization B’Tselem has estimated that 80% of Gazans would starve without food aid.

Charles Stromeyer says:

Ephraim, this opinion piece in the Harvard Law Record argues that Kramer’s idea is genocidal:

Ephraim says:

Stuff and nonsense, Charles.

Ask the Sudeten Germans about the “genocide” that was practiced against them when, after Germany was defeated and the Czechs kicked them out lock, stock and barrel for their support of the Nazi aggression against Czechoslovakia, people elected not to house them and feed them in refugee camps where they could suck on the sour grape of “return”. So what happened? They made do as well as they could among their fellow Germans back in Germany. Case solved.

The situation with the Arabs who call themselves “Palestinians” is no different. They are in the situation they are in because of the failed Arab aggression against Israel in 1947-48 and because their “brother Arabs” have deliberately refused to let them leave the refugee camps into which they herded them. If they let them leave, the “Palestinian problem” would defuse itself.

I do not advocate letting the people in Gaza starve. I advocate that the international organizations who shovel truckloads of money into Gaza to attach some conditions to it, the first one being that they stop lobbing rockets at civilians in Israel. As it is, Israel supplies most of Gaza’s electricity (why doesn’t Egypt do it?) and sends them tons of Israeli food, which, in my opinion, sould be put to better use feeding the poor in Israel rather than feeding Hamas terrorists who eat Israeli food and then go shoot rockets at the people who feed them.

And if Israel is really practicing genocide against the Palestinian Arabs, how come there are so many more of them than there used to be?

Charles Stromeyer says:


My point is that Israel is NOT practicing genocide against the Palestinian Arabs which is why we don’t need someone like Martin Kramer trying to make things worse.

U.S. envoy George Mitchell has canceled his trip to the Middle East, and both Vice President Joe Biden and General David Petraeus have said that Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians is endangering U.S. troops in areas such as Iraq and Afghanistan.

Ephraim says:

I’m glad that you think Israel isn’t practicing genocide against the Arabs. So many people do now that it’s hard to keep things straight.

I don’t believe for a second that Israel’s behavior is endangering American troops. That’s a smokescreen. Obama has caved on Iran’s nuclear program, like anyone with any brains knew he would, and people are saying this sort of thing now to manufacture a phony crisis to try to scare Israel away from bombing Iran’s nuke program, which is almost a foregone conclusion now because of Obama’s spinelessness. This has nothing to do with the “Palestinian” Arabs or new housing for Jews in Jerusalem (sorry, “Arab East Jerusalem”) at all.

Obama obviously believes that “peace” in the Middle East depends on Israel bending over and grabbing its ankles, and he is obviously planning to do everything he can to make Israel kowtow. All he needed was some “crisis” to hang his policy on so it wouldn’t look to blazingly obvious that he had it up his sleeve all along and was just waiting for the opportune moment to spring it.

I have to remove the ability connected to thank you have in your experienced points I in many cases taken pleasure in searching your website or blog. We’re anxious about the beginning in my best higher education examination and therefore the vast foot placement would not have already been top notch with no having on its way to your blog site. Should i could be of one’s easily many more, I am gracious that may help with what I’ve got came to find at this point.

Well said, I couldn’t write it better, pal!

Hey could I quote a few of the insight uncovered within this blogging site if I hyperlink back to you personally?


Your comment may be no longer than 2,000 characters, approximately 400 words. HTML tags are not permitted, nor are more than two URLs per comment. We reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments.

Thank You!

Thank you for subscribing to the Tablet Magazine Daily Digest.
Please tell us about you.

Harvard Affiliate Lambasted Over Gaza Remarks

Kramer’s policies would lower birth rate

More on Tablet:

Making Sex Education Smarter

By Marjorie Ingall — Teenagers need to learn about more than anatomy, as some Jewish educators already know