Prime Minister Olmert contends that the Jewish State must retreat from Judea & Samaria, lest it share the fate of South Africa. President Bush said in Lancaster, Pennsylvania (Oct. 3, 2007) and in NYC (Sept. 26, 2007) that Israeli leaders told him that a giveaway of Judea & Samaria would spare the Jewish State a demographic calamity. Mr. Prime Minister, you are mistaken and misleading!
Israel‘s Prime Minister is convinced that demography constitutes a lethal threat to the existence of Israel. He employs demographic scare tactics to galvanize support for “disengagement” from Judea & Samaria. He has embraced projections made by Israel’s demographic establishment, which are based on the erroneous numbers, published by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS). The goal of the PCBS – in publishing highly inflated numbers – is to extract excessive financial assistance from the US, and to scare Israel into sweeping territorial concessions.
The Prime Minister ignores the most recent World Bank report on the state of education in Gaza, Judea & Samaria, which documents a 32% gap between PCBS numbers and actual registration for first-fifth grades. The World Bank has concluded that Palestinian population growth rate projections have been inflated, that the Palestinian fertility rate has declined and that the Palestinian emigration rate has escalated.
The Prime Minister overlooked the March 17, 2006 Gallup survey, which documented a substantial decline in the Arab fertility preference – in Gaza, Judea, Samaria and within the “Green Line” – while the Jewish fertility preference ascends. He did not notice the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics (ICBS) Nov. 5, 2007 news release, which documented a reduced Arab fertility rate – 20 years faster than projected – and an impressive growth of the Jewish fertility rate, in contrast with projected drop. He disregarded the September 2006 ICBS statement, that admitted the failure of its 2000 projections, which were conducted under the influence of the demographic scare.
Contrary to the “Demographic Scare” school of thought, the demographic momentum is Jewish and not Arab, as documented by the Bennett Zimmerman-led “American-Israel Demographic Research Group” (www.aidrg.com). AIDRG was the first to expose the 36% rise in the annual number of Jewish births between 1995 (80,400) and 2006 (109,000), while the annual number of Arab births within the “Green Line” has stagnated (around 39,000), with the Arab fertility rate converging toward the average Jewish fertility rate. The trend is expected to persist. AIDRG has also uncovered a sustained annual Arab net-emigration from Gaza, Judea & Samaria – since 1950 – of substantially above the annual average of 10,000: 12,000 in 2004, 16,000 in 2005 and 25,000 net-emigration in 2006. The official number of Arab residents of Judea & Samaria is inflated by 70% – through the inclusion of non-residents and overly-projected birth and immigration – and it is 1.5 million and not 2.5 million. A solid, long-term 67% Jewish majority exists over 98.5% of the land west of the Jordan River (without Gaza), compared with an 8% and a 33% Jewish minority in 1900 and 1947 respectively between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean. The Prime Minister is aloof to the statement made by Dr. Nicholas Eberstadt, a leading US demographer at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), who stated at the Herzliya Conference that AIDRG “caught Israeli demographers asleep at the switch!”
The Prime Minister is wrong: demography constitutes a strategic asset, and not a liability. There is a demographic problem, but it is not lethal, and the long-term demographic trend is Jewish, irrespective of the absence of demographic policy. A skillful leveraging of the demographic momentum, bolstered by a long-term comprehensive demographic policy, would substantially expand the Jewish majority and enhance Israeli options in the battle for the future of the Jewish State in general and Judea & Samaria in particular. On the other hand, ignoring the demographic momentum, and being obsessed with the demographic scare, could inflict lethal damage upon the Jewish State.