UPDATE: Today has seen a rash of attempted stabbings of security personnel focused in the Hevron area. Elsewhere in Samaria, a Palestinian mob attempted to take a Israeli truck driver out of his vehicle and kill him; the driver was fortunately saved by IDF soldiers.
How often have we in the West heard the demographic argument being used to give urgency to the discussion of finding a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian situation?
The demographic argument is simply that the day is coming when the number of Muslim and Christian Israelis will overtake the number of Jewish Israelis in Israel. The argument concludes that when that day arrives, Israel will no longer be a Jewish state–and will be forced to abandon any pretense of democracy in order to remain so.
Some interesting statistics that appeared in the Yediot Aharonot newspaper this morning that were taken from the Israel Immigration Authority bear witness to the fact that this argument is patently false.
According to Immigration Authority data, the number of Jewish newborns in Israel has surged by nearly 20% since 2001 while during the same period the number of Muslim and Christian newborns has dropped by five and 10%, respectively. While this statistic is fascinating, it does not in itself indicate more than just a trend because the fertility rate among Israeli Muslim women was so high to begin with (in 2010 the fertility rate for Israeli Muslim women dropped to 3.73 and for Israeli Jewish women rose to 2.97).
However, the data also shows that over the past decade a total of 1,568,938 people were born in Israel, including 1,157,517 Jews, 387,308 Muslims, and only 24,113 Christians. So far this year (since January 2011), 107,207 Jewish babies have been born, a significantly higher number than the 30,341 Muslims and 1,864 Christians who have been born. This data suggests that the higher Israeli Muslim/Christian birthrate is nowhere near producing enough newborns to eclipse the number of Israeli Jewish newborns–and, given the far greater number of Jewish women in Israel, even suggests that the gap between the number of Israeli Jews and Israeli Muslims/Christians is beginning to grow.
This suggestion becomes even more pronounced when looking at data that compares the number of Israeli newborns in 2001 with Israeli newborns in 2010.
In 2001, 69% of all newborns in Israel were Jewish, while 28% were Muslim and 1.9% Christian. However, in 2010, 76% of all the babies born in Israel were Jewish, while only 22% were Muslim and 1.3% Christian.
Obviously this dramatic turnaround has been primarily due to the exponential rise in the orthodox Jewish Haredi population–a rise that presents Israel with its own set of challenges. And this dramatic turnaround does not negate the need to find a equitable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian situation (the data presented here includes the Golan Heights and all of Jerusalem, but it does not include the non-Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria). Nevertheless, this dramatic turnaround does suggest that Israel is no longer under the gun to accede to a hastily imposed solution that imperils its security and existence.
THIS DAY IN ISRAELI HISTORY
On December 7, 1921, the graduation of the first nursing class of the Henrietta Szold Hadassah-Hebrew University School of Nursing in Jerusalem, which had been postponed due to Arab attacks in November, took place. The first graduates were: Yehudit Alkalay, Tzippora Ashkenazy-Azoulay, Shoshanna Braz-Yefet, Peninah Buchstetter, Shifra Chaikin-Rosy, Sarah Hankin-Tesker, Dina Heller, Tsippora Horenstein, Hanna Katznelson-Nesher, Helena Kissin-Goldstein, Esther Litvinovsky-Dayan, Tova Pastersky, Rachel Pesach-Rosenberg, Penina Radofsky, Tsippora Sabora’it-Ediger, Leah Satanovsky, Hadassah Schedrovitzky-Sapir, Sarah Shabtai-Shitrit, Tikva Weinstein-Yalouz, Rivka Wolkenstein-Ezer, Rivka Yerushalmi-Cohen and Chaja Zaslavsky-Kopilevitch.
In an interesting sidebar, the graduation address was given by a Dr. Eder, a distinguished British Jew and member of the Zionist Executive who spoke in English. Dr. Eliezer Ben Yehuda, one of the pioneering fathers of modern Hebrew, stormed out in protest.