Monday, February 25, 2008

Demographics – a Strategic Asset, Not a Liability

February 2008

1. AIDRG documents a 1.2MN (46%) inflation in the official number of Palestinians in Gaza, Judea & Samaria (2.6MN and not 3.8MN) and a 53% inflation in the official number of Palestinians in Judea & Samaria alone (1.5MN and not 2.3MN). The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) includes in its census some 400,000 overseas residents, 200,000 Israeli (Jerusalem) Arabs who are also counted as “Green Line” Arabs, ignores about 200,000 emigrants (since 1997), etc. The World Bank documents a 32% gap between the PCBS – and the Palestinian Ministry of Education documented – number of Palestinian births.2. A long-term 67% Jewish majority on 98.5% of the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean (without Gaza. A long-term 60% Jewish majority west of the Jordan River compared with 33% and 8% minority in 1947 and 1900 respectively.

3. Arab fertility rate (within the “Green Line”) has declined 20 year faster than conventionally projected, while Jewish fertility rate is rising.

4. A 40% rise in annual Jewish births (from 80,400 to 112,000) and a stagnation of annual Arab births (39,000) in the “Green Line” during 1995-2007. Arab-Jewish gap of fertility (number of children per woman) reduced from 6 in 1969 to 0.8 in 2006. Arab fertility rate has declined, in Judea & Samaria, to about 4.5 since its peak (about 8) in the late 1980s.

5. Arab-Jewish fertility rates have converged in Jerusalem – 3.9 children per woman – for the first time since 1948.

6. Net annual emigration of over 10,000 has characterized Judea & Samaria (mostly) and Gaza Arabs since 1950: 12,000 in 2004, 16,000 in 2005 and 25,000 in 2006.

7. The Jewish State has benefited from annual Aliya (immigration) since 1882. Repeatedly, since 1948 – and in contrast with reality - Israel’s demographic establishment has projected no waves of Aliya.

8. Secular Olim (immigrants) from the former Soviet Republics experience fertility increase from the Russian rate of one child per woman toward the average secular Israeli rate of 2+.

9. Repeatedly, projections of demographic doom have been refuted by robust Jewish demography between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean. For example, Ben Gurion was urged by Israel’s demographers to delay declaration of independence, lest the 600,000 Jews of 1948 become a minority by 1967!

10. There is a demographic problem, but it is not lethal, and the demographic trend is Jewish and not Arab. The demographic momentum is shifting from the Arab to the Jewish sector. Demography constitutes a strategic asset, not a liability, for the Jewish State.

“Yoram Ettinger, the expert on US-Israel relations, has conducted a campaign against Israel’s demographic establishment…He e-mails to 5,000 Israelis regular reports replete with data, aimed at refuting the thesis of “Demographic Doom…” Ettinger has based his offensive on the AIDRG study, which contends that the number of Arabs in the West Bank is 1.5MN and not 2.5MN. Both Prof. Arnon Sofer of the Haifa University and Ettinger have access to civilian and military decision-makers. They present their case at Knesset Committees, the National Security Council, etc... Ettinger claims that AIDRG is based on verified documentation, while Israel’s demographic establishment has been based on refuted assessments and projections. He suggests that demography constitutes an asset, and not a liability, for Israel…”

Ha’aretz documents AIDRG’s success to wreck the monopoly of Israel’s demographic establishment, introducing the free market of demographic ideas into Israel’s public debate, replacing baseless-fatalism/pessimism with documented-hope/optimism.

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