Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Israelis Getting Younger While Palestinian Arabs Getting Older

One of the key arguments used in defense for land-for-peace in general and the formation of a second Palestinian state in particular has been the fear that the time and demographics were on the side of the Palestinian Arabs. According to the argument, the Palestinian Arab birth rate was higher than the Jewish birth rate and inevitably--if the Palestinian Arabs were not given a land of their own--Israel would some day become an Arab state. There have been clear indications that those arguments are based on false data--and now the numbers from the Central Bureau of Statistics is backing this up as well:
The bubble of demographic fatalism is bursting, according to the most recent data, published by the Central Bureau of Statistics. The data should be leveraged by the new government to formulate a demographic policy aimed at increasing the current 67 percent Jewish majority west of the Jordan River (without Gaza). The road map [that's road map, not Road Map, DA] would uproot demographic fatalism and advance demographic optimism, thus energizing aliya, the economy, overseas investments, diplomacy, national security, posture of deterrence and minimizing Jewish-Arab tension, which is fed by demographic fear.

ccording to the CBS, the country's Jewish population is getting younger and the Arab population getting older. The number of annual Jewish births increased by 45% between 1995 (80,400) and 2008 (117,000), as a result of aliya from the USSR, the shift by the Soviet olim from a typical Russian rate of one birth per woman to a typical Israeli rate of two-three births, the rising secular Jewish rate and the sustained high Orthodox and haredi rate.
The opposite trend among the Arab population is due to a number of factors:
large scale emigration, entrenched family planning, reduction of teen pregnancy, rapid urbanization, expanded education especially among women, record divorce rate and higher median marriage age.
The road map referred to above would would have a number of facets to it, as enumerated by the article's author, Yoram Ettinger--who has written about this topic extensively:
THE JEWISH DEMOGRAPHIC tailwind behooves the new government to introduce a demographic road map, which would increase the Jewish majority, while respecting the rights of the Arab minority:
1. Placing aliya at the top of the order of national priorities, as expected from the Jewish state and as required by economic and security challenges. The global economic meltdown, and the rise in anti-Semitism should be leveraged to increase aliya from the former USSR, US, Europe, Latin America and South Africa.

2. The conversion of some 250,000 olim from the former USSR - in accordance with Jewish laws - should be expedited.

3. Jewish immigration to - instead of emigration from - Jerusalem would be facilitated by the availability of jobs and lower-cost housing, created through entrepreneurs attracted by a drastic enhancement of the city's infrastructure (airport, fast railroad, Loop, additional freeway, industrial and residential zones).

4. Enticing the return of expatriates and reducing the number of quality emigrants by improving education and research and development infrastructures.

5. Expanding high school and academic programs for prospective olim.

6. Significant development of infrastructure in the Galilee and in the Negev, triggering emigration from the Greater Tel Aviv area, which would yield economic, environmental and demographic benefits.

7. Synchronizing industrial and educational 9-5 schedule, which would facilitate raising children and obtaining employment.

8. The establishment of a global Jewish foundation, which would support Jewish fertility worldwide, in view of high assimilation, low fertility rates among non-Israeli Jews and Holocaust-driven demographic challenges.
Keep in mind that the information on Arab demographics is important for the US--and Europe--as well, to the extent that the aid that is given to the Palestinian Arabs relies to an extent to the number of Palestinian Arabs that are supposedly receiving that aid.

It was reported back in 2006:
Congress today will be presented with a new study that documents the Palestinians have inflated their population numbers by over 50 percent and that almost $3 billion in United States taxpayer funds may have been provided as aid to the Palestinians in part based on fraudulent data.
Now that the US is giving $900 million to Gaza, it might be a good idea for the US to verify and be extra sure for what it will be used and to whom it will be given.
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