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Friday, May 21, 2010

The demographic scarecrow bomb

This article originally appeared in the Australian Jewish News last Friday. It was sent to me as an email by the author, Yoram Ettinger.
Anyone suggesting that Jews are doomed to become a minority between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean is either dramatically mistaken or outrageously misleading.

In contrast with conventional “wisdom,” there is a Jewish majority of 67% in the combined area of pre-1967 Israel and Judea & Samaria and a 60% majority west of the Jordan River (including Gaza), compared with a 33% and a 8% Jewish minority in 1947 and in 1900 respectively.

The robust Jewish demographic tailwind and Arab demographic headwind are demonstrated through the absolute annual number of Jewish and Arab births in pre-1967 Israel. While the annual number of Arab births stabilized at 39,000 during 1995-2009, the annual number of Jewish births surged by 50% from 80,400 in 1995 to 121,000 in 2009.

The number of Judea & Samaria Arabs is artificially inflated by 66%. It is 1.55MN and not 2.5MN. Thus, the World Bank documents a 32% “inflation” in the number of Palestinian births, a substantial erosion of the Palestinian fertility rate and a significant escalation of Arab emigration from Judea, Samaria and Gaza. Documented entries and exits via international passages feature a 20,000 net Arab emigration from Judea & Samaria in 2009, 17,000 and 14,000 in 2008 and 2007 respectively and only six years of net-immigration since 1950.

The significant decline in Arab population growth rate has been caused by an intensive family planning campaign, an unprecedented reduction of teen-pregnancy, a swift urbanization process, an all-time-high divorce rate and median wedding-age, an impressive expansion of education especially among women and enhanced career mentality among women.

In contrast with international demographic standards, the Palestinians include some 400,000 overseas residents in their census. They also include 250,000 Jerusalem Arabs, who bear Israeli I.D. cards and are therefore doubly-counted: as Israeli Arabs by Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics and as West Bank Arabs by the Palestinians.

Demographic doom’s day projections have been refuted drastically and systematically since the launching of the Zionist voyage by Theodore Herzl. The founders of the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics and their successors have underestimated Jewish fertility, overestimated Arab fertility, ignored Arab emigration and downplayed Aliya prospects. In the 1940s, they projected 2.3MN Jews in the Land of Israel in 2001. They were off by 3.5MN Jews! They dismissed Ben Gurion’s assessments of one million Olim in the 1950s and ridiculed the suggestion that an additional million Olim would arrive from the USSR during the 1990s.

In 2010, there is a demographic problem, but there is no demographic machete at Israel's throat. Most importantly, the demographic tailwind is Jewish, not Arab. Refuted demographic fatalism should be replaced with well-documented optimism, thus expanding security, political, strategic, diplomatic and economic options for Israel.
The demographic argument is a key. The basis upon which Israel is prodded and pressured to give up its heartland is that if we do not, we will be left with the choice of being a Jewish or a democratic state, but not both, since the conventional wisdom indicates that the 'Palestinians' will be the majority. But the conventional wisdom is a lie, and as usual, we are our own worst enemies. It is Israelis who perpetuate the myth that we are doomed to minority status in 10 or 20 or 50 years and that it is therefore 'urgent' that we agree to a 'Palestinian state' in our heartland while there is something left to save. But it's not so. It's all a lie. The prospect of our being a minority between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea ought to be no more terrifying or real than the fraudulent scarecrow.


At 5:14 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

This needless fear of course, is what propels Israel's government to amputate parts of the country to preserve a Jewish majority within the Green Line. What is needed is not more surrender of land over that imaginary line but redrawing the borders to put Israel's Arabs in the Palestinian state and annexing an equivalent number of Jews in Yesha to Israel. But the Stupid Jews ruling Israel appear to have no common sense or rational thought whatsoever.

What could go wrong indeed


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