Israel Has No Reason to Fear Demographic Growth

Nov. 15 2021

Due to concern over global warming, some have argued that the world needs to reduce its population, and have even encouraged people to stop having children. In the Jewish state, a small country whose population this year surpassed 9.3 million, the argument becomes a more specific claim that “Israel is full.” Sam Lehman-Wilzig thinks such predictions of doom are all wrong:

First of all, from a global standpoint, Israel’s population is a drop in the bucket. Moreover, around 2050 or 2060 the world’s overall population numbers will start to decline! Some countries have already started on this downward slide: Russia, Japan, Portugal, [for instance]—and many others (China, most of Europe) are not far behind. Second, the naysaying Cassandras (of every generation) tend to disregard completely original solutions that human ingenuity—driven by economic necessity—comes up with to resolve “existential” problems.

After offering some concrete suggestions for how the Israeli government could handle growing demand for housing, Lehman-Wilzig admits that such technical solutions miss the bigger picture, which is that there is no population crisis:

In my opinion, the biggest benefit of increasing population numbers lies elsewhere: social psychology. [Those] countries whose population is growing are upbeat about the future; countries with stagnant or declining population represent (and are felt by the populace to be) stagnant societies. It is no coincidence—although it is impossible to “prove” any direct causation—that Israel is one of the few Western countries with a rising population, and simultaneously has one of the most vibrant economies, with close to the strongest currency in the world today. When people subconsciously feel that they are living in the midst of a vibrant society, they will be happier (Israel is near the top of international “happiness” surveys) and more productive.

Twenty million Israelis living in the country by 2050? Bring it on. Yes, it will offer challenges, but it also means doubling the country’s brainpower to meet those challenges.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Birthrate, Demography, Israeli economy, Israeli society


When It Comes to Peace with Israel, Many Saudis Have Religious Concerns

Sept. 22 2023

While roughly a third of Saudis are willing to cooperate with the Jewish state in matters of technology and commerce, far fewer are willing to allow Israeli teams to compete within the kingdom—let alone support diplomatic normalization. These are just a few results of a recent, detailed, and professional opinion survey—a rarity in Saudi Arabia—that has much bearing on current negotiations involving Washington, Jerusalem, and Riyadh. David Pollock notes some others:

When asked about possible factors “in considering whether or not Saudi Arabia should establish official relations with Israel,” the Saudi public opts first for an Islamic—rather than a specifically Saudi—agenda: almost half (46 percent) say it would be “important” to obtain “new Israeli guarantees of Muslim rights at al-Aqsa Mosque and al-Haram al-Sharif [i.e., the Temple Mount] in Jerusalem.” Prioritizing this issue is significantly more popular than any other option offered. . . .

This popular focus on religion is in line with responses to other controversial questions in the survey. Exactly the same percentage, for example, feel “strongly” that “our country should cut off all relations with any other country where anybody hurts the Quran.”

By comparison, Palestinian aspirations come in second place in Saudi popular perceptions of a deal with Israel. Thirty-six percent of the Saudi public say it would be “important” to obtain “new steps toward political rights and better economic opportunities for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.” Far behind these drivers in popular attitudes, surprisingly, are hypothetical American contributions to a Saudi-Israel deal—even though these have reportedly been under heavy discussion at the official level in recent months.

Therefore, based on this analysis of these new survey findings, all three governments involved in a possible trilateral U.S.-Saudi-Israel deal would be well advised to pay at least as much attention to its religious dimension as to its political, security, and economic ones.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Islam, Israel-Arab relations, Saudi Arabia, Temple Mount