To life! Lechayim!
To life! Lechayim!

Israel boasts many records.

In thirty years, its gross domestic product has increased by 900 percent; the tax burden has fallen from 45 to 32 percent; US aid, once 10 per cent of GDP,  today is only 1 percent; exports rose by 860 percent. Thirty years ago, Israel had no independent sources of energy, while today 38 percent comes from its own resources. And for the Wall Street Journal, Israel is the second most educated country in the world, behind Canada.

For most of the indicators on quality of life, Israel is in sync with most developed countries. With health indicators among the top ten countries in the world, the Israeli population presents high levels of education and income. But there is one record that is unique and even surreal for the Jewish State, a state-garrison which make news headlines only for the deaths of terrorists and the terrible wars, gas masks, the missile-proof bunkers, the stabbings, the suicide bombers, the Iron Dome missile interceptor. That record is the fertility rate.

That was the “peace camp”’s most powerful argument: the Arabs have more children than the Jews, and if you don’t create an independent Palestinian State a demographic bomb will transform Israel into an apartheid state. When the Oslo "peace process” started in the ‘90s, the fertility among Israeli Jews stood at an average of 2.6 children per woman, compared to 4.7 among Muslims in Israel and East Jerusalem, and 6 per cent among the Palestinians in Gaza and Judea/Samaria.  Yasser Arafat proudly declared that the womb of the Palestinian woman is the most powerful weapon of his people.

Yet, as The Wall Street Journal has just explained, “in the last ten years, a demographic revolution occurred with long-term political consequences”. In less than twenty years, the number of annual births among Israeli Jews rose by 65 percent, from 80,400 births in 1995 to 132,000 in 2013. The birth rate among Arabs diminished. The rate of Jewish fertility in Israel was 3.11 children per woman in 2014, while among Arab citizens of Israel and East Jerusalem it was just 3.17, according to Israel's official statistics. The Palestinian fertility rates have dropped to 3.7 from 5.6 in Judea/Samaria and to 4.5 from 6 in Gaza.

Southern Europe, from Spain to Italy, is devoted to a demographic suicide with 1.4 children. Same scenario for eastern Europe, which is experiencing the only loss of population since the Second World War. Germany is devastated by a silent war, the “birth dearth”. France and England are doing better, thanks only to the contribution of Islamic communities which will transform them. The United States is also expericinging a demographic decline and only the Hispanic communities raise the national fertility average.

Then there is Israel, this Western enclave stuck in heart of the Islamic world.

Israeli Jews today have more children than the Egyptians or Lebanese.  Surprisingly, this baby boom is taking place also among secular Jews or moderately religious Jews. If demographic rates will remain unchanged, Israel will have a larger population than Poland in 2085. Israel will also have more youth than Italy or Spain. A century and a half after the Holocaust, the Jewish State will have more men of military age than Germany. 28 percent of Israelis are under 15 years old, and 10 per cent over 65, while European proportions are 16 percent for both.

Israel is the only country in the industrialized, modern world with demographic rates that Europe had more than half a century ago. The exceptional fertility of Israel arises from religion rather than ethnicity: it can be easily explained by the enormous contrast between the Orthodox Jews’ rates and secular Jews’ rates in the United States. The American Jew is endangered by assimilation and low birth rates.

Something similar had happened in Soviet Union, where the Jews, after decades of communist atheism, had a fertility rate of only 0.8 children per woman. When the former Soviet Jews landed in Israel, they adopted the Israeli demographic habits and today are among the most prolific families.  

Compared to Israel, even the Islamic Republic of Iran is now collapsing. Iran’s fertility fell by 70 percent, one of the fastest declines we’ve ever seen in history.

Israel’s passion for children is linked to the trauma of the Holocaust and the permanent state of war, but above all the religious tradition of a small people always under siege and which wants to become more numerous, more strong. A people, the Israeli Jews, who seem to love life and hate death more than any other population group in the world. Including not only its deadly neighbors, but also the Western libertines.