Sunday, August 22, 2010

Demography - Finally in MSM

What I have been writing about, taking the lead from good work from many people, has hit the Mainstream Media: the demography issue ain't what it's made up to be.

Here's from the Newsweek demography report:

a growing number of right-wing Israelis are now asserting that the demographic balance in Greater Israel is more favorable to Jews than previously's also the result of a revisionist arithmetic designed to show that
Palestinians actually number far less in the West Bank than the official figure of 2.5 million—and that they are growing more slowly than the traditional projections.

The main purveyor of this new math is Yoram Ettinger, a retired diplomat and a staunch believer in Israel's right to all of Judea and Samaria, the biblical term for the West Bank. Ettinger is not a demographer by training; he holds degrees in business administration and accounting. But he spent the past several years poring over data from the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics and other sources, and he discovered what he says are miscalculations in (among other things) the Palestinian birthrate and migration figures (officials at the PCBS did not respond to a request for comment). He concludes that Israel could maintain a long-term Jewish majority of 67 percent if it annexed the West Bank, compared with the traditional projection of parity between Jews and Arabs within a few years of annexation. That means the occupation, in his view, may never have to end.

...Ettinger makes three broad points: that Palestinians have substantially inflated their numbers in the West Bank by, for example, continuing to count people long after they've taken up residence abroad; that the Palestinian fertility rate both in the West Bank and in Israel has been declining faster than projected; and that Jewish births have
significantly over the past 15 years, thanks mainly to the large
influx of immigrants to Israel from the former Soviet Union (but also as a result of a moderately rising Jewish fertility rate). "The demographic trend is Jewish," Ettinger concludes. "Anyone claiming that Israel must concede geography in order to secure demography is either mistaken or misleading."

But how accurate is Ettinger's data? Sergio DellaPergola, a professor at Jerusalem's
Hebrew University and perhaps Israel's most oft-cited demographer, concedes some
points to Ettinger—for instance his discovery that the Palestinian figures included an assumption since 2001 of 45,000 net immigration annually, which has not materialized. But on the big issues, Ettinger is either overstating the significance of Palestinian miscalculations or misrepresenting data to substantiate his political viewpoint, according to DellaPergola. Take the Palestinian birthrate, for example. The decline over the past 20 years has been substantial—from about seven children per family to between four and five children. But population growth is a function of more than just birth rate—a matter that Ettinger's presentation leaves out...DellaPergola says, the rate of growth among Palestinians is still about twice what it is among Jews.

When you include Gazans in the count (the idea that Israel would somehow be allowed to enfranchise Palestinians of the West Bank while leaving Gazans hard up would never pass muster with the international community that enfranchisement is meant to placate), Palestinians are already approaching the 50 percent mark, according to DellaPergola—a troubling figure for Israelis who want to believe they can both annex the Palestinian territories and retain Israel's Jewish character. But even if Ettinger's numbers are right, the implications aren't much different. "My argument is that even a 60-40 division between Jews and Arabs or a 65-35 division gives you a binational state in which you cannot continue to control all the instruments of power," DellaPergola says.

Turns out the new math is a lot like the old math.

Okay, so now we can argue based on real figures, finally.

No comments: