How a Culture of Child-Rearing Has Made the Israeli Demographic Miracle Possible

June 26 2019

The Jewish state’s high fertility rates buck all trends among developed nations, and cannot be explained solely by the large families of Ḥaredim or Israeli Arabs. While insurance coverage for fertility treatments, generous maternity-leave policies, and the like may provide a partial explanation, Melissa Braunstein also points to a variety of social and cultural factors—and urges America to learn from the Israeli example:

Israeli culture starts from an assumption that nearly every family will have some kids and will need kid-related things. By extension, parents in families with three or more kids aren’t looked at funnily or quizzed about their lifestyle choices. . . . It’s understood that kids . . . not only will be but deserve to be in public spaces like restaurants. It’s also not considered noteworthy if graduate students bring their kids to class because childcare fell through on a given day. . . .

Many workplaces are willing to work with parents on work-life balance. It’s not uncommon for parents to work from 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., rather than from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and many workplaces will host kids for a week after summer camp ends.

Public school starts at age three. The group that typically runs aftercare at the local school also organizes activities on days when school is closed but parents must work. Beyond that, museums, national parks, and malls all have kid-specific programming, especially during school vacations.

[Perhaps most importantly], “free-range parenting” is the national default position. Kids are independent from young ages, arranging and ferrying themselves to playdates. A six- or seven-year-old walks to the corner store with friends for ice cream. Ten-year-olds regularly cross Tel Aviv on scooters or on the bus with friends. Parenting in Israel offers more freedom to both kids and parents. It also seems to result in happier parents with more kids.

Read more at Federalist

More about: Children, Family, Fertility, Israeli society

How Israel Can Break the Cycle of Wars in Gaza

Last month saw yet another round of fighting between the Jewish state and Gaza-based terrorist groups. This time, it was Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) that began the conflict; in other cases, it was Hamas, which rules the territory. Such outbreaks have been numerous in the years since 2009, and although the details have varied somewhat, Israel has not yet found a way to stop them, or to save the residents of the southwestern part of the country from the constant threat of rocket fire. Yossi Kuperwasser argues that a combination of military, economic, and diplomatic pressure might present an alternative solution:

In Gaza, Jerusalem plays a key role in developing the rules that determine what the parties can and cannot do. Such rules are designed to give the Israelis the ability to deter attacks, defend territory, maintain intelligence dominance, and win decisively. These rules assure Hamas that its rule over Gaza will not be challenged and that, in between the rounds of escalation, it will be allowed to continue its military buildup, as the Israelis seldom strike first, and the government’s responses to Hamas’s limited attacks are always measured and proportionate.

The flaws in such an approach are clear: it grants Hamas the ability to develop its offensive capabilities, increase its political power, and condemn Israelis—especially those living within range of the Gaza Strip—to persistent threats from Hamas terrorists.

A far more effective [goal] would be to rid Israel of Hamas’s threat by disarming it, prohibiting its rearmament, and demonstrating conclusively that threatening Israel is indisputably against its interests. Achieving this goal will not be easy, but with proper preparation, it may be feasible at the appropriate time.

Revisiting the rule according to which Jerusalem remains tacitly committed to not ending Hamas rule in Gaza is key for changing the dynamics of this conflict. So long as Hamas knows that the Israelis will not attempt to uproot it from Gaza, it can continue arming itself and conducting periodic attacks knowing the price it will pay may be heavy—especially if Jerusalem changes the other rules mentioned—but not existential.

Read more at Middle East Quarterly

More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israeli Security, Palestinian Islamic Jihad