The Myth of the Demographic Time-Bomb

November 28, 2016 | Gregg Roman
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According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, the combined Palestinian population of the West Bank, Gaza, and Jerusalem, together with that of Israel’s Arab citizens, now equals the Jewish population of Israel. This information supports one of John Kerry’s favorite refrains—that Israel won’t be able to maintain its identity as a democratic Jewish state unless a Palestinian state is created, and soon. This argument is baseless, writes Gregg Roman, and not only because it is based on unreliable statistics:

For starters, the central underlying premise of this argument—that the combined ratio of Jews to non-Jews in Israel, [including] the West Bank and Gaza, matters—is laughably obsolete. There’s no more reason to include Gaza in the equation than to include Lebanon or Jordan: the Israeli occupation there ended a decade ago, and its 1.6 million residents are pretty much free to determine their own future but for the brutal rule of their own homegrown Islamist regime. . . .

The real question, then, isn’t what happens if Israel were suddenly to annex all territories where Palestinians live en masse, but what happens if it holds on to those territories that most Israelis want and can be easily defended? Jews currently make up roughly 80 percent of Israeli citizens, and there’s no reason to believe this figure will be appreciably affected by implementation of a final-status agreement. . . .

[Furthermore], Kerry seems blithely unaware that the birthrate of Israeli Jews, which reached a low of 2.6 in the 1990s, has been rising steadily in recent years, to 3.1 in 2015—the same as that of Israeli Arabs—even as Palestinian birthrates have steadily declined, to 3.7. With the highest birthrate in the developed world and substantial Jewish immigration adding to their ranks every year, Israeli Jews are not at risk of becoming a minority in the foreseeable future.

Unfortunately for Secretary Kerry, most Israelis are well aware that time is not running out on Israel’s future as a democratic Jewish state. A democratic Jewish state is very much in existence and running strong. . . . Most Israelis couldn’t care less if Gazans or West Bankers choose to have slightly bigger families than the inhabitants of Tel Aviv. When John Kerry declares again and again that Israel is “out of time,” what he’s really doing is communicating to Palestinians that the much dreaded Jewish state next door will cease to exist if they simply continue their refusal to compromise.

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