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.

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Read more at Federalist

More about: Children, Family, Fertility, Israeli society

UN Peacekeepers in Lebanon Risk Their Lives, but Still May Do More Harm Than Good

Jan. 27 2023

Last month an Irish member of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) was killed by Hizballah guerrillas who opened fire on his vehicle. To David Schenker, it is likely the peacekeeper was “assassinated” to send “a clear message of Hizballah’s growing hostility toward UNIFIL.” The peacekeeping force has had a presence in south Lebanon since 1978, serving first to maintain calm between Israel and the PLO, and later between Israel and Hizballah. But, Schenker explains, it seems to be accomplishing little in that regard:

In its biannual reports to the Security Council, UNIFIL openly concedes its failure to interdict weapons destined for Hizballah. While the contingent acknowledges allegations of “arms transfers to non-state actors” in Lebanon, i.e., Hizballah, UNIFIL says it’s “not in a position to substantiate” them. Given how ubiquitous UN peacekeepers are in the Hizballah heartland, this perennial failure to observe—let alone appropriate—even a single weapons delivery is a fair measure of the utter failure of UNIFIL’s mission. Regardless, Washington continues to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into this failed enterprise, and its local partner, the Lebanese Armed Forces.

Since 2006, UNIFIL patrols have periodically been subjected to Hizballah roadside bombs in what quickly proved to be a successful effort to discourage the organization proactively from executing its charge. In recent years, though, UN peacekeepers have increasingly been targeted by the terror organization that runs Lebanon, and which tightly controls the region that UNIFIL was set up to secure. The latest UN reports tell a harrowing story of a spike in the pattern of harassment and assaults on the force. . . .

Four decades on, UNIFIL’s mission has clearly become untenable. Not only is the organization ineffective, its deployment serves as a key driver of the economy in south Lebanon, employing and sustaining Hizballah’s supporters and constituents. At $500 million a year—$125 million of which is paid by Washington—the deployment is also expensive. Already, the force is in harm’s way, and during the inevitable next war between Israel and Hizballah, this 10,000-strong contingent will provide the militia with an impressive human shield.

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Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Lebanon, Peacekeepers, U.S. Foreign policy