Saturday, May 16, 2009

Demographic Scare-Bomb


Supposedly it mitigates against Israel retaining control over Judea and Samaria. Either Israel becomes less democratic in not permitting Arabs the right to vote or it must face becoming less Jewish by permitting too many Arabs to reside within its borders.

Let's hear another voice, that of Paul Morland, a business consultant in London, who is writing his doctoral thesis on demography and ethnic conflict at Birkbeck College, University of London: is important that the public at least have some idea of what the demographic reality actually is. There may be disputes about numbers in the territories, but within Israel itself the facts are clear, and they deserve to be more widely known.

In the early days of the state, the Arab minority underwent a "demographic transition," something that often occurs when traditional societies confront modernity. Health care and living standards improved rapidly, life expectancy rose and infant mortality fell, but, initially, family size remained large. As a result, Israel's Arab population expanded fast, and maintained or even increased its proportion of the population, despite the massive Jewish immigration to the state. In the 1960s, Israeli Muslim women were still having on average nine children.

However, after the first stage of demographic transition - a falling death rate, a persistently high birthrate and thus rapid population growth - invariably comes a second stage, in which birthrates fall. This is now happening within Israeli Arab society, and has been for some time. The average Israeli Arab woman is now having fewer than half the children she had in the 1960s, while the Jewish birthrate has recently stabilized and even risen...This has been a steady trend and, should it continue, it will only be a very short time before Jewish and Arab births each year are broadly proportionate to the overall balance of Jews and Arabs in the population as whole - that is, 4:1, or 80 percent and 20 percent, respectively.

...Today Israeli women as a whole have more children (2.77) than women in Iran (1.71), Bahrain (2.53), Algeria (1.82), Morocco (2.57), Indonesia (2.34) or Turkey (1.87). Latest figures suggest that Israeli women now have more children than women in Egypt (2.72), Jordan (2.47) or Lebanon (1.87). As recently as 2003, Syrian women had a fertility rate 50 percent higher than that of Israeli women. By 2008, it was only 16 percent higher.

None of the above takes account of the Arab population beyond the Green Line. Here the data are less reliable, but two things seem clear: Birthrates remain high, but they are falling fast. The number of births in the West Bank in 2003 suggested that Palestinian women there were having on average five children. Last year, that number was not much higher than three children, an astonishing transformation for so short a period of time.

Whatever the situation in the territories, within sovereign Israel, the message is fairly straightforward: Jewish and Arab birthrates are converging. What politicians and the public should concern themselves with is not how large a minority the Arab population will be - on the basis of recent trends and projections, it is unlikely to grow much beyond its current 20 percent - but rather what kind of minority it will be. Will it be an integrated part of society, upwardly mobile, both socially and economically, enjoying and contributing to the fruits of Israeli society, a potential bridge to the region and an advertisement for Israel's inclusiveness and tolerance? Or will it become marginalized, alienated and increasingly hostile?

...For a favorable outcome, it would be prudent to concentrate on defusing not the "demographic time bomb," but the time bomb of ill-informed and misleading demographic scare-mongering.

and we can add this:

Demographic Optimism; Not Fatalism by Yoram Ettinger from Detroit Jewish News, April 16, 2009

...On the eve of Israel's 1948 Declaration of Independence, Prof. Roberto Bachi, the founder of Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics, contended that – under the best case scenario - there would be 2.3MN Jews in the Land of Israel by 2001, constituting a 33% minority. In 2001, there was a solid 60% Jewish majority, of five million, west of the Jordan River. Since 1948 Israel's demographic establishment declared that no massive Aliya was expected. Three million Olim have arrived!

The assumption that Jews are doomed to become a minority between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean has eroded confidence in the future of the Jewish State. It has also triggered the thesis that Israel must, supposedly, retreat from Jewish geography (Judea and Samaria), in order to secure Jewish demography.

But, what if the official number of Arabs in Judea and Samaria is inflated by 53%? What if a long-term 67% Jewish majority exists over 98.5% of the land west of the Jordan River?

In sharp contrast to conventional wisdom, the UN Population Division reports a sharp decline of fertility rate (number of births per woman) in Muslim and Arab countries. A substantial dive of fertility rates in Muslim countries - trending toward 2-3 births per woman - is documented by the Population Resource Center in Washington, DC. For instance, the fertility rate in Iran has declined from 9 births per woman, 30 years ago, to 1.8 births in 2007. Jordan, which is demographically similar to Judea and Samaria has diminished from 8 births per woman, 30 years ago, to less than 3.5 in 2007.

In defiance of demographic fatalism, Israel's demographic momentum has been Jewish. Since 1882 (the launching of annual Aliya), the Jewish population between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean has grown 238 fold, while the Arab population increased only 6 fold. Since 1948, the Jewish population increased almost 10 fold and the Arab population expanded 3 fold. Thus, according to Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics (ICBS), the annual number of Israeli Jewish births has grown by 45% from 1995 (80,400) to 2008 (117,000), while the number of Israeli Arab births has stabilized at 39,000 annually. The Arab-Jewish fertility gap shrunk from 6 births in 1969 to 0.7 births per woman in 2008!

The American-Israel Demographic Research Group (AIDRG), headed by Bennett Zimmerman, discovered that the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) contended a 170% population growth from 1.5 million in 1990 to 3.8 million in Judea, Samaria and Gaza in 2007. This would be almost double the population growth rates of Afghanistan, Niger and Eritrea, which have the highest population growth rates according to the UN Population Division.

AIDRG has uncovered a number of significant flaws in the PCBS numbers. For example, some 400,000 overseas Palestinians – who have been away for over a year - were included the census, in defiance of globally acceptable demographic standards. Over 200,000 Jerusalem Arabs – possessing Israel ID cards – are doubly-counted as Israeli Arabs (by the ICBS) and as West Bank Arabs (by the PCBS). A 40,000-50,000 annual gap exists between the number of births contended by the PCBS and the number of births documented by the PA Ministries of Health and Education. Some 60,000 have to be deducted annually on account of unrealized immigration - which was contended by the PCBS – and substantial emigration of well over 10,000 annually. 105,000 Palestinians who received Israeli ID cards since 1997 are doubly-counted as Israeli Arabs (by the ICBS) and West Bank Arabs (by the PCBS).

...AIDRG has documented a robust long-term Jewish majority of 67% west of the Jordan River without Gaza and 60% with Gaza, compared with an 8% Jewish minority in 1900 and a 33% Jewish minority in 1947 between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean. The number of Arabs in Judea and Samaria is inflated by 53% (1.5MN and not 2.3MN) and the number of Arabs in Judea, Samaria and Gaza is inflated by 40% (2.7MN and not 3.8MN).

There is a demographic problem, but it is not lethal and the demographic trend is Jewish. Therefore, anyone suggesting that Jews are doomed to become a minority west of the Jordan River, and that the Jewish State must concede Jewish Geography in order to secure Jewish Demography, is either grossly mistaken or outrageously misleading.

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