Friday, January 02, 2004

Israel needn't worry about a population implosion.

Saturday, May 18, 2002 12:01 a.m. EDT

Israel, we have been told, is under the demographic gun. Palestinians bear twice as many children as Israelis, therefore making Israeli settlements in the West Bank "steadily less tenable," according to New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof. Historian Paul Kennedy, who specializes in wrongheaded history of the future, goes a step further, predicting a "demographic boiling-over" in the Arab world that will eventually "obliterate Israel or drive it to some desperate action."

Now, it may well be that Israel should leave the settlements, as Mr. Kristof argues. And it may well be that Israel is in for a long, drawn-out war, as Mr. Kennedy predicts. But it won't be because of a population explosion in the Arab world. Truth is, fertility rates in Arab and Muslim countries have been falling rapidly in recent decades. Indeed, it would be remarkable were they not; it's been happening everywhere else.

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