Home Daily Brief Gaza One of the Most Densely Populated Places on Earth?

Gaza One of the Most Densely Populated Places on Earth?

by Mike Fegelman

Over the years, Rabbi Leigh Lerner of Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholom in Montreal, noticed a constant refrain about Gaza: “Practically every newscaster and news article will say it is "one of the most densely populated places on earth." Rabbi Lerner became fed up with the constant refrain which “makes every Israeli action seem like constant bullying of an oppressed and over-compacted group of refugees”. In a sermon, he compared figures between the Gaza Strip and the City of Montreal. The results are surprising.

Read Rabbi Lerner’s full sermon below.

 


“Those whose reportage and politics incline toward Palestinians blame Israel for terrible conditions in Gaza, the poverty of refugees confined in a densely populated, tiny strip of land they call a concentration camp of misery, a prison of the body and the soul, whose borders are cut off by Israel, and who cannot rise above their estate.  So let’s take a moment to compare two small places in this world of ours.  

            The Gaza Strip is 360 sq. km., or about 140 sq. miles large.  To help you get an idea of how big that is, 360 sq. km is precisely the same area as the city of Montreal.  That’s right.  The Gaza Strip and the City of Montreal are the same size.  The Gaza Strip has 1,482,000 people.  The City of Montreal has 1,620,000 people.  Have you ever noticed that virtually all reports of Israeli attacks against Hamas strongholds contain the words, “The Gaza Strip is one of the most densely populated areas on earth”?  For example, the BBC says, and I quote, “Gaza, one of the most densely populated tracts of land in the world, is home to about 1.3m Palestinians. . .”.  Science Daily says, “the Gaza Strip is one of the most densely populated areas on earth.”  Islam On Line says, “The Gaza Strip is one of the most densely populated places on earth with 3,823 persons per km2.” 
 
            Montreal has 4500 people per sq km.  Do CBC reports begin all coverage of Montreal by saying, “Today in Montreal, one of the most densely populated places on earth. . .”.  No.  The assumption is, big cities have big population density.  Gaza could well handle its population, which is less than Montreal’s, but Gaza is, of course, dirt poor.  And speaking of dirt, in this densely populated place, 1/3 of the land is cultivated.
 
            I’ll let you in on a secret.  Tel Aviv-Yafo has 7170 people/sq. km, almost twice the density of the Gaza Strip.  Jerusalem has 5642; Haifa has 4211.  When missiles from Saddam Hussein fell on Israeli cities, did the BBC say that deadly missiles fell on one of the most densely populated places on earth?  When Hizbollah rockets slammed into Haifa, Islam On Line probably cheered and certainly would not have pointed out that Haifa has a denser population than the Gaza Strip. 
 
            The fact is, the population density of Gaza is not out of line with urban areas elsewhere.  The density is less than Montreal’s.  The constant reiteration that Gaza is one of the most densely populated places on earth is one more way of convincing the world that the Palestinian refugees are in a cage created by Israel.  Does anyone in Montreal think this city is a cage? There seems to be enough room for everyone, indeed, room to spare, and we have more people per square kilometer than Gaza. 
 
            But there’s a difference.  What do Montrealers want?  Jobs, education, development, tourism, culture, and education.  Occasionally we get caught up in political chaos like Quebec sovereignty, and what does that do?  It costs us jobs, educated leaders, tourism, and development.  The concern of the Hamas leadership is not with economic development, not with education, not with drawing in factories or developing culture and tourism.  The concern of the leadership of the Gaza Strip, Hamas, is the violent displacement of Israel from its rightful territory.  The Hamas charter clearly states, "Israel will exist . . . until Islam will obliterate it. . . .".  "The Islamic Resistance Movement believes that the land of Palestine is an Islamic Waqf consecrated for future Moslem generations until Judgement Day.  It . . . should not be given up."
 
Rabbi Leigh Lerner, Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholom, Montreal”

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