Olmert’s demographic threats based on false projections

Yoram Ettinger, YNET

[..] Olmert is convinced that the “demographic demon” threatens the existence of the Jewish State and utilizes it in order to forge a majority that would support disengagement from Judea and Samaria. He embraces the projections of Israel’s demographic establishment, which are based on inflated forecasts by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. These projections are meant to get more money from the West and more concessions on Israel’s part.

Yet the prime minister ignores a World Bank report that documents a 32 percent gap between the Palestinian Authority’s projection for school registration in grades one through five and the numbers in practice. The World Bank declared that the gap stems from an exaggerated population growth rate assumption, disregard of the decline in Palestinian birthrates, and a rise in Judea, Samaria and Gaza emigration numbers.

In addition, Olmert ignores the Gallop study predicting a significant decline in Arab birthrates on both sides of the Green Line, compared to a significant rise in Jewish birthrates. He is also unaware of the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics’ announcement of September 2006 regarding the failed projections made in 2000 ahead of 2025, inspired by the “demographic demon.” Indeed, the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics reported last November that the decline in Arab birthrates has been 20 years faster than projected, while instead of erosion in Jewish birthrates we have seen impressive growth.

As opposed what proponents of the “demographic demon” say, the demographic momentum happens to be Jewish, rather than Arab, as documented by the American-Israel Demographic Research Group headed by Bennett Zimmerman.

The group exposed the rise in annual Jewish birthrates by 36 percent between 1995 (84,000) and 2006 (109,000), while the annual number of Arab births within the Green Line has stabilized at 39,000 since 1995. This trend is expected to continue in the coming years. Forty years, ago, there was an average gap of six children between Arabs and Jews, compared to the 0.8 children separating them today.

‘Asleep at the switch’
The Research Group documented average annual net emigration from Judea, Samaria and Gaza of more than 10,000 people since 1950. The Arab population of Judea and Samaria is inflated by 70 percent, due to the counting of overseas residents and false emigration and birthrate projections. In fact, we are talking about 1.5 million Palestinians in the West Bank, rather than 2.5 million.

West of the Jordan River, without the Gaza Strip, we have a 67 percent Jewish majority, compared to an 8 percent Jewish minority in 1900 that grew to 33 percent by 1947. If we include Gaza residents in the calculation, we are talking about a Jewish majority of 60 percent between the Jordan River and Mediterranean Sea today. Hence, leading Washington demographer Nicholas Eberstadt told the Herzliya Conference that the American-Israel Demographic Research Group “caught the demographic professionals asleep at the switch.” Yet the prime minister ignores this declaration.

The prime minister is wrong. Demography constitutes a strategic asset rather than a liability. We have a demographic problem, yet it is not fatal, while long-term trends favor the Jewish majority despite the absence of any system-wide demographic policy.

By wisely leveraging the demographic momentum and boosting it through deliberate policies, we will improve the options available to the Israeli government in the fight for the future of the Jewish State in general, and for Judea and Samaria in particular. Ignoring the issue will exact a lethal price on Israel.

Yoram Ettinger is an expert of Middle Eastern Affairs and member of the American-Israel Demographic Research Group

December 8, 2007 | Comments Off on Olmert’s demographic threats based on false projections

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