The question raised in the headline is not a joke. In fact, it is an important philosophical and mathematical question whose answer may determine the fate of Israel and the entire Middle East.
This puzzling issue has come up again with the recent publication of the 2007 Palestinian census conducted by the Central Bureau of Islamic Statistics. According to the census, the number of Palestinians currently residing in the West Bank and Gaza is slightly below 56 million people – almost ten times the entire Jewish population of Israel. If true, these numbers spell disaster for Israel which will find it increasingly difficult to survive and impose its desire to exist upon such a large and hostile neighboring population .
Some experts though have cast doubt on the veracity of the data and the techniques used to compile it. For instance, Professor Ettinger points out that the 1997 census reported only 2 million Palestinians, so that the updated number represents an impossible rate of growth, "This means that the Palestinians are multiplying faster than lice," said Ettinger, "Every Palestinian woman from age 5 to age 70 must have been giving birth to twins every two months in order to achieve this growth."
Ettinger concluded, " The numbers just don't add up. If you ask me, something is fishy."
But is it possible the Palestinians are lying?
"No!" says Head of the Central Bureau of Islamic Statistics, Shiekh Amin El-Salam, who insists that he conducted the research according to the strictest rules of Islamic statistics. For instance, a great debate was conducted concerning the question how to count the Palestinians.
"Obviously it is inconceivable that one would count Palestinians the same way one would count infidels. There is no way on earth that we could do that," said the Shiekh, "The question we faced was: what is the appropriate, statistically Islamic way of counting the Palestinians?"
This question was raised in numerous meetings of the expert statistics staff, consisting of some of the brightest theological minds in the Palestinian Authority. Some Muftis said that each Palestinian is worth twice as much as any Jew, while others insisted that the number should be a ten to one ratio since anything less would be a humiliation of the proud Moslem spirit, "After months of deliberation, our statisticians came up with a formula which brings into account the intrinsic value of each Palestinian, the less than zero value of infidels, the political value of a higher count population and the chances of any one calling us out. To this number we randomly added fifty million and that was it."
But after the formula was reached one final question still remained: Who should conduct the survey itself?
A short but fierce battle was fought between the rival factions of Hamas and Fatah in order to gain the right to participate in the historical event, "A census is an authentic and important expression of our Palestinian people-hood," said the sheikh, "Which is why it was vital to exclude the Fatah traitors from the proceedings."
After seizing complete control of the census and with the new formula in hand, yet another question was raised: why bother?
"Since we had already Islamically determined how many Palestinians there are, some people said that there was little point in wasting money on doing the actual survey," said Sheikh Amin, "And after a short deliberation we indeed decided that it would be a shame to waste the ten million dollars the European Union gave us to conduct the census on actually carrying it out, when we had already determined the results thanks to the Koran. It was decided that in this case , the proper way to use the money would be to reduce the number of Jews, which is actually also a very important, complimentary part of the Palestinian census, so really, the Europeans are getting their money's worth either way."
Yeah, I bet it went down something like this.
Yoram Ettinger: PA Continues to Lie About Demographic Threat from INN.
Gaza census bureau at center of Hamas-PA dispute over survey from Ha'aretz
Demographic Threat to Israel Grows by Another 5% Experts Say