Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Debacle of Demographic Fatalism.

 

by  Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger

 

Demographobia – the illogical fear of Arab demography – has become a central element shaping Israel's state of mind in general and the attitude toward Judea & Samaria in particular. However, all projections dooming Jews to become a minority between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean have been crashed at the rocks of reality.  From a minority of 8% and 33% in 1900 and 1947 respectively, Jews have become a solid majority of 67% west of the Jordan River (without Gaza), benefiting from a demographic tailwind.

 

In March 1898, the leading Jewish historian/demographer, Shimon Dubnov – who opposed Theodore Herzl's Zionist vision - projected that in the year 2000, there would be only 500,000 Jews west of the Jordan River.  But, in 2000 there were five million Jews west of the Jordan River.

 

During the 1940s, Professor Roberto Bacchi, the founder of the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics and the mentor of the current Israeli demographic establishment, projected that in 2001 there would be only 2.3 million Jews, constituting a 34% minority between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean.  But, in 2001, there were five million Jews – a 60% majority!

 

In 1967, Prime Minister Levy Eshkol was advised that by 1987 there would be an Arab majority.  But, in 1987 Jews maintained a 60% majority between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean.

 

Israel's demographers have traditionally underestimated Jewish fertility, idolized Arab fertility, ignored Arab emigration and minimized the potential of Aliya (Jewish immigration).  Hence, they dismissed the prospect of a massive Aliya in the aftermath of the 1948/9 War.  However, one million Jews arrived.  They projected no substantial Aliya, during the 1970s,  from the Communist Bloc. But, almost 300,000 Jews arrived.  During the 1980s they ridiculed the expectation for an Aliya wave from the USSR, even if gates might be opened.  Nevertheless, one million Jews returned to the Homeland from the USSR.

 

In 2009, in defiance of fatalistic projections, there is a robust 67% Jewish majority west of the Jordan River, excluding Gaza. The Arab-Jewish fertility gap has shrunk from 6 births per woman in 1969 to 0.5 births in 2008 (3.4:2.9).  According to the UN Population Division, the average global Muslim fertility rate has declined as a result of modernization, urbanization and family planning. For instance, Iranian fertility rate decreased to 1.7 births per woman, Egypt – 2.5 births, Jordan – 3 births, Algeria – 1.8 births.  In addition, annual Arab net-emigration from Judea and Samaria has escalated since 2000 (the 2nd Intifadah) and shifted to a higher gear in 2006 (PLO-Hamas war).  At the same time, the number of annual Jewish births has increased by 45% from 1995 (80,400) to 2008 (117,000), while the number of annual Arab births during the same period – in pre 1967 Israel – has stabilized at 39,000. 

 

An 80% Jewish majority in the combined area of Judea, Samaria and pre-1967 Israel is attainable in light of the current demographic trend. It would be advanced by the implementation of a long overdue demographic policy: highlighting Aliya, returning of expatriates, establishing a Jewish National Fund to support global Jewish demography, migration from the Greater Tel Aviv area to the periphery, converging school and working hours, etc.

 

The upward trending Jewish demography has critical national security implications. It proves that anyone claiming that Jews are doomed to become a minority west of the Jordan River, and that the Jewish State should concede Jewish geography, in order to secure Jewish demography, is either dramatically mistaken or outrageously misleading.

 

 

Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

1 comment:

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