Friday, July 29, 2011

Million missing facts

Schmuel Rosner

I've just published an article in Foreign Policy along with my JPPI colleague Yogev Karasenty. It's a response to an article by Joseph Chamie and Barry Mirkin, claiming that million Israelis have left the country since its birth, a trend that "has not only resulted in critical demographic and socioeconomic imbalances in the country, but more importantly poses grave political challenges and jeopardizes the basic Jewish character and integrity of Israel".

We beg to differ. There's no such thing as "million missing Israelis". Here's one paragraph from our response - you can read the rest of it here:
Chamie and Mirkin argue that the unpublicized story of emigration from Israel is no less significant than the story of Jewish immigration back to the homeland, and that it has reached a point at which it should be considered a threat to Israel's future as a Jewish state -- both demographically but no less important ideologically. "The departure of Jewish Israelis also contributes to the undermining of the Zionist ideology," the authors write, based on the assumption that a million Israelis have chosen to leave the country since its 1948 birth. Magnanimously, they take the trouble to also include lower estimations of departing Israelis --"the official estimate of 750,000 Israeli emigrants -- 10 percent of the population" -- but even so, that doesn't change the perception that Israel is just like "Mexico, Morocco, and Sri Lanka." Not the most exemplary models of prosperity and success.

One wonders whether the necessary readjustment of numbers -- following the analysis that we are about to present -- will also change some of the far-fetched doomsday conclusions the authors reach at the end of their article. What Chamie and Mirkin present to readers leads them to conclude that the numbers pose "grave political challenges and jeopardizes the basic Jewish character and integrity of Israel." Their numbers, though, are totally off the mark. As for their conclusions, that is for readers to decide.

The full article is here.

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