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July 24, 2008 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2008-07-24

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Editor's Letter



Brighter Demographic Fortunes


espite claims to the contrary, Jews aren't doomed
to become a minority west of the Jordan River,
reports a breakthrough study on Jewish-Palestinian
demographics. The study has the strength of a well-respected
research team behind it.
The study compellingly refutes the demographic fatalism
relating to Eretz Yisrael, the historic Land of Israel. It exposes
Arab misrepresentations grounded in
desired political gain. At the same time,
it paints a cautious picture of growth
in the Jewish population.
The American-Israel Demographic
Research Group (AIDRG) conducted
the study. The Begin-Sadat Center for
Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University
in Ramat Gan published it. It has been
reviewed by Israel's National Security
Council, Mossad and Shin Bet.
A member of the AIDRG, Yoram
Ettinger, sent me a synopsis of the
study on July 15. His overview made me feel better about
Israel remaining a Jewish state in more than name only. The
Jerusalem-based former congressional affairs minister at the
Israeli Embassy in Washington, he makes a compelling case in
his support materials.
Ettinger's credentials are strong. He testified this week
before the Knesset Judiciary Committee, which deliberates
demography. He's a consultant to members of Israel's cabinet
and Knesset. And he regularly briefs U.S. lawmakers and their
staffs on Israel, terrorism and other issues of bilateral concern.
He's an authority on overseas investments in Israel's high-tech
industry. In June, he spoke in Washington at the American
Israel Public Affairs Committee's annual conference.
The State of Israel is home to 7.15 million people: 5.41 mil-
lion Jews and 1.42 million Arabs and Druze.

with the rising price of oil, which has increased demand by
Persian Gulf sheikdoms for Palestinian workers!'
Ettinger certainly bursts the bubble of misconceptions relat-
ing to Arabs becoming the dominant force in Israel.
And there's more.

Cooking The Count
AIDRG documents 40 percent inflation in the official number
of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and West Bank (2.7 million,
not 3.8 million); it shows 53 percent inflation in the number of
Palestinians in the West Bank (1.5 million, not 2.3 million).
The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics includes in its
count 400,000 overseas residents and 200,000 Israeli Arabs
in East Jerusalem. It ignores 200,000 emigrants since 1997,
according to Ettinger.
"A solid 67-percent Jewish majority exists on 98.5 percent of
the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea,
without Gaze Ettinger says. He contrasts this percentage with
a 33-percent and 8-percent Jewish minority west of the Jordan
River in 1947 and 1900, respectively.
Ettinger acknowledges that Israel isn't out of the woods
when it comes to demographic trends. But the problem, he
says, isn't lethal. What's more, demographic momentum has
shifted to the Jewish sector.

Pursuit Of Fact
Dr. Nicholas Eberstadt, a respected demographer from the
Washington-based American Enterprise Institute, bolstered
the basis for the Bennett Zimmerman-led AIDRG study when
he addressed the Herzliya Conference on Israeli national secu-
rity in 2006. Eberstadt is Christian so was a strictly neutral
observer. Zimmerman is managing partner of Israel Emerging
Growth Fund L.P., a U.S. partnership formed to invest in the
equities of Israeli companies traded in America and Israel.
Eberstadt cited serious flaws in Palestinian
Authority fertility and population figures as
Beyond The Numbers
measured by the Palestinian Central Bureau of
Here's a slice of the story that Ettinger proudly tells:
Statistics and the two most authoritative inter-
Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics reveals that the
national demographic providers, the U.S. Census
annual number of Jewish births has climbed 40
Bureau and the U.N. Population Division. The
percent between 1995 (80,400) and 2007 (112,455),
flaws make me wonder what impact a Palestinian
thanks to more women of child-bearing age, espe-
state would have on the embattled region.
cially in the Orthodox community. In comparison,
"Until there is a credible new population count
Arab births on an annual basis inside the Green
in the P.A. areas:'Eberstadt said in Herzliya, "there
Line has stabilized (39,000) over the same period.
will be some irreducible uncertainties. But now is
The Arab-Jewish fertility gap has dropped dra-
Yoram Etti nger
the time for the demographic profession to seek
matically from six children per woman in 1969
truth from facts here following the Zimmerman team's
to 0.7 in 2007.A key discovery: the Arab fertility
very important invitation?'
rate has fallen 20 years faster than projected because of social
Yes, the AIDRG study provides a ray of demographic hope
influences; the Jewish fertility rate, meanwhile, is rising. AIDRG
for the State of Israel, like Yoram Ettinger says. But when it
identified these reasons for the surprising Arab falloff: acceler-
takes a nonofficial study to reveal the real population trends of
ated urbanization, expanded education and career pursuits, a
Eretz Yisrael, the world Jewish community must demand tight-
higher divorce rate, a higher median age of marriage, a decline
er accountability in the all-important search for demographic
in teen pregnancy and better family planning.
truth in a region so critical to the Jewish people. ❑
Equally significant, the Arab population growth rate in the
West Bank has declined, the result of an annual emigration of
Contact Yoram Ettinger at yoramtex@netvision.net.il.
more than 10,000 people since 1950.
0 : How can Palestinian population
"Emigration slowed down in 1968 due to integration with
1— •
Israel's health, education and employment infrastructures;'
cn W`discrepancies be resolved?
Ettinger explains. "However, it has escalated since 2000 due to
Z z How would a Palestinian state affect
the second intifada [Palestinian uprising], shifting to a higher
60 Mideast population trends?
gear following the ascension of Hamas to power and peaking












July 24 • 2008


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