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Demographics Working in Israel's Favor

Demographic analyst Yoram Ettinger says Israel is gaining the lead in the regional demographic race and that "there is no need to retreat from Jewish Geography in order to secure Jewish Demography."
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 11/26/2006, 9:12 AM / Last Update: 11/26/2006, 10:01 AM

Much of the findings are based on research carried out by a Washington D.C.-based think tank led by Bennett Zimmerman, a former Strategy Consultant with the Bain & Company global management consulting firm. Ettinger, a former Congressional liaison at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C. and an expert in U.S.-Israeli relations, led the Israeli research team.

In his latest report, Ettinger reports that the Jewish fertility rate in Israel is among the highest in the industrialized world. Forty years ago, Arab families had an average of six children more than Jewish families in Israel, while today, the gap has closed to less than one child.

Jews in Judea and Samaria have an even higher fertility rate. Prof. Dan Meyerstein, President of Ariel College, said recently that fertility in Yesha is "crazily higher
than the rest of Israel" - 4.4 children, as opposed to the national average of 2.8.

Since 1995, the annual number of Arab births within Israel's Green Line has stabilized around 37,000, while the annual number of Jewish births has increased by 34% (from 80,400 in 1995 to 107,000 in 2006).

Other findings by Ettinger:
* The Jewish population between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean has grown 164-fold since 1882, while the Arab population has grown six-fold.

* Since 1948, the Jewish population west of the Jordan River has grown 9-fold, from 650,000 to well over 5.5 million, while the Arab population has slightly more than tripled, to 3.8 million. This last number, incidentally, is the total number of Arabs in Israel, including Judea, Samaria and Gaza - and not in Judea, Samaria and Gaza alone, as the Arabs report.

* Jewish immigration into Israel has brought Jews to Israel every year since 1882, while a net average annual emigration of over 10,000 has characterized the Arab population of Judea and Samaria (especially) and Gaza since 1950.

"There is no demographic machete over the throat of the Jewish State," Ettinger concludes. "Demography is not an existential threat to the Jewish State. Therefore, there is no need to retreat from Jewish Geography in order to secure Jewish Demography. In fact, a retreat from Jewish Geography would upset the migration balance in the area, facilitating a potential immigration of 1-2 million Palestinians into Judea & Samaria and from there (due to economic pressure) to the Green Line, thus wrecking Jewish Demography."

Ettinger compares the tenuous nature of demography to the permanent nature of geography and topography:
"Demography is tenuous, subject to government's policy. On the other hand, the Geography and Topography of the mountain ridges of Judea & Samaria (the "Golan Heights" of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv), and the 9-15-mile sliver between the Mediterranean and the 1949 Lines, are fixtures which cannot be tempered by human beings. A retreat from Judea and Samaria could pose an existential threat to the Jewish State."