Daily Israel Report

Op-Ed: Yes-- to Demographic Optimism

Demographic scare tactics are proven hollow now that population figures have been audited. A comparison of Israel's Jewish and Arab fertility rates can and should reshape Israel's state of mind and policies.
Published: Friday, October 23, 2009 9:10 AM


The all time record of daily Jewish births at Tel Aviv's Ichilov Hospital, set on September 21, 2009, reflects the substantial rise in Israel's Jewish fertility. Delivery rooms function at 100% capacity.
 
Anyone claiming that Jews are doomed to become a minority between the Jordan River
Anyone claiming that Jews are doomed to become a minority between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean is dramatically mistaken.
and the Mediterranean is either dramatically mistaken or outrageously misleading.
 
An audit of Palestinian and Israeli documentation of births, deaths, school and voter registration and migration certifies a solid 67% Jewish majority over 98.5% of the land west of the Jordan River (without Gaza), compared with a 33% and an 8% Jewish minority in 1947 and 1900, respectively, west of the Jordan River.
 
The audit exposes a 66% distortion in the current number of Judea & Samaria Arabs - 1.55 million and not 2.5 million, as claimed by the Palestinian Authority. In 2006, the World Bank exposed a 32% bend in the number of Palestinian births. Inflated numbers have provided the Palestinians with inflated international foreign aid and inflated water supply by Israel. They have also afflicted Israeli policy-makers and public opinion molders with fatalism and erroneous demographic assumptions,  impacting on Israel's national security policy.
 
Refuting demographic fatalism, the robust growth of Israel's Jewish fertility (number of births per woman) has been sustained during the last 15 years, while Arab fertility and population growth rate (birth, death and migration rates) experienced a sharp dive.
 
The number of Jewish births during the first half of 2009 accounted for 76% of all births, compared with 75% in 2008 and 69% in 1995. Unlike all other developed societies, the number of annual Jewish births has grown by 45% from 1995 (80,400) to 2008 (117,000), while the annual number of "Green Line" Arab births has stabilized around 39,000. The secular, rather than the religious, sector has been chiefly responsible for the Jewish growth. For example, the Olim (immigrants) from the USSR arrived to Israel with a typical Russian fertility rate of one birth per woman; today, those women are giving birth to two to three children, the typical secular Israeli Jewish rate. Moreover, the Arab-Jewish fertility gap shrunk from 6 births per woman in 1969 to 0.7 births in 2008 (3.5:2.8), converging toward 3 births.
 
The Arab fertility rate in Judea & Samaria is declining rapidly (toward 3.5 births), as has
The swift decline in the Arab fertility rate within the “Green Line” reflects the impressive Arab integration into Israel's infrastructure.
been the case in all Muslim countries except Afghanistan and Yemen: Jordan (twin-sister of Judea & Samaria)) – 3, Syria – 3.5, Egypt – 2.5, Saudi Arabia – 4, Algeria – 1.8 and Iran – 1.7 births per woman.
 
The swift decline in the Arab fertility rate within the “Green Line” reflects the impressive Arab integration into Israel's infrastructure of employment, education, health, trade, finance, politics, sports and culture.
 
The sharp decrease in the Judea & Samaria Arab fertility rate is the outcome of modernity. A 70% rural majority in 1967 has been transformed into a 70% urban majority in 2009, burdened by civil war, terrorism and severe unemployment. Elementary and higher Education have expanded dramatically, especially among women. Median wedding age and divorce rate are at an all time high. In addition, Judea & Samaria Arabs have experienced a high emigration rate since 1950, further eroding population growth rate.
 
The current 67% Jewish majority west of the Jordan River (without Gaza) could expand to 80% by 2035, leveraging the aforementioned Jewish demographic tailwind and the potential Aliya resulting from the global economic meltdown and the rise in anti-Semitism
Israel's challenge is not a "demographic time bomb," but rather a demographic "scare crow."
(e.g. half a million Olim during the next ten years from the former USSR).
 
Baseless demographic fatalism has played a key role in shaping Israel’s state of mind and national security policy. It has eroded the level of confidence in the future of the Jewish State. However, well-documented demographic optimism now confirms that there is no demographic machete at the throat of the Jewish State, that demographic scare tactics are hollow and that Israel's challenge is not a "demographic time bomb," but rather a demographic "scare crow." 

(The Jewish Week)