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Guest Column

The demographic scaremongering fraternity
By Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger
Dec 11, 2015 - 6:36:32 PM

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Demographic scaremongering has played a key role in the sustained campaign to infect Jews with faintheartedness and fatalism, dissuading Jews from settling the Land of Israel, and luring Israel to concede the historically and militarily critical high ground of Judea and Samaria. This campaign preceded Secretary John Kerry's speech on December 5, 2015, when he stated: "How does Israel possibly maintain its character as a Jewish and democratic state when from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea there would not even be a Jewish majority?"

Historically, policy makers and public opinion molders have issued and employed (and sometime managed) official statistics, in order to advance their agenda, influence public opinion and intensify pressure on their rivals. They have relied on the tendency, by most people and by all governments, to accept official statistics as truism without proper examination.

In March 1898, Theodor Herzl, the founding father of modern political Zionism, was challenged by Simon Dubnow, the leading Jewish historian and demographer, who proposed the establishment of a cultural/social Jewish autonomy in Europe instead of a Jewish state in the Land of Israel. Dubnow did not consider Jewish immigration (Aliyah) to the Land of Israel a viable proposition and issued demographic projections to support his stance ( Public Letters on Ancient and Modern Judaism, 1897-1907 ): "The reconstruction of the Jewish State in the Land of Israel -- with a sizeable Jewish population -- is impossible politically, socially and economically.... National Judaism should not be advanced by messianic means in Zion, but by a credible struggle for realistic Jewish interests in the Diaspora.... In one hundred years [1998], the total number of Jews in Palestine will be about 500,000, slightly higher than the population of Kiev.... Will that solve the problem of ten million Jews, who are scattered in the Diaspora?!.... Political Zionism is utopian...."

Theodor Herzl, the reality-driven optimist was not deterred by Simon Dubnow's authoritative, demographic reputation and proved Dubnow devastatingly wrong: in 2015, there are 6.6 million Jews in the Land of Israel, constituting a 66% (and growing) majority in the combined area of Judea, Samaria and pre-1967 Israel.

In 1922 and 1931, the British government recruited demographic acrobatics to rationalize the abandonment of its ironclad legal commitments to establish a Jewish state in the Land of Israel: the November 2, 1917 Balfour Declaration, the April 25, 1920 post-war Allied San Remo Conference and article 22 of the July 24, 1922 Covenant of the League of Nations. Thus, London initiated population censuses in the Land of Israel, intended to underline its claim that, supposedly, an extremely high Arab birthrate precluded the establishment of a Jewish state. Moreover, the British government severely restricted Jewish immigration (Aliyah) and Jewish land acquisition, in order to constrain Jewish demography.

In 1946, David Ben Gurion submitted to the "Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry" a document - " No Arab Majority in the Land of Israel " by Israel A. Trivus -- highlighting the fundamental demographic flaws - some of which still persist today - of both censuses. For example, the censuses were supervised and conducted by British and Arab individuals known for their hostility toward the idea of a Jewish state and involvement in anti-Jewish terrorism; most forms were filled and submitted by Hamula leaders, whose interest was to maximize their political clout and benefits and therefore their numbers; most Arab adults were illiterate, unable to comprehend/complete the forms; the registration of the Arab inhabitants was never scrutinized; the registration of nomad Arabs (Bedouins) was heavily inflated; the population registration suggests that death was rarely reported; migrants from rural to urban areas were doubly-counted in both locations; overseas residents were included in the censuses.

According to official British Mandate statistics, the Arab natural increase in the Land of Israel was, ostensibly, the highest in human history, dramatically higher than the natural increase in the Arab world.... A June 10, 1993 study on the Arab population of Judea and Samaria, by Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics, echoed the unreliability of Palestinian population registration, stating: "If the Palestinian population registration is accurate, then Palestinian life expectancy is higher than life expectancy in the USA...."

In the 1940s, on the eve of the Declaration of Independence, Israel's Founding Father, David Ben Gurion, was pressured by Israel's leading statistician and demographer, the founder of Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics, and the role model of Israel's current statistical/demographic establishment, Prof. Roberto Bacchi, to postpone the establishment of the Jewish state for lack of a critical Jewish demographic mass. According to Bacchi's October, 1944 projection, the number of Jews in the Land of Israel, in 2001, was supposed to be 2.3 million, a 34% minority -- this was a cataclysmic error.

Like Israel's contemporary demographic establishment, Prof. Bacchi erred in dismissing the prospects of Aliyah waves (continuous since 1882), attributing to Arab fertility permanent mythical rates, assuming that Jewish fertility would be reduced to European levels, ignoring the eventual Westernization of Muslim demography in general and Palestinian demography in particular, while Jewish demography (3.11 births per woman, and 3.4 when both spouses are Israeli-born) trends above Muslim demography, everywhere other than the Sudan, Yemen and Iraq.

In 2015, in defiance of the "Demographic Scaremongering Fraternity," Israel's Jewish demography features an astounding 68% surge in the number of annual births from 1995 (80,400) to 2014 (132,000), while the annual number of Arab births has stabilized (40,000) due to accelerated modernity; a growing positive Jewish net-migration, simultaneously with growing Arab negative net-migration; a 66% Jewish majority in the combined area of Judea, Samaria and pre-1967 Israel, benefiting from an unprecedented tailwind of fertility and migration. Should Israel resurrect the pro-active Aliyah policy, which was Israel's flagship until 1993, Jewish demography -- and therefore economy, technology, national security and posture of deterrence - would catapult to new heights.

Theodor Herzl's motto, "if you will it, it is no dream," has been vindicated resoundingly.

Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger
The Ettinger Report
"Second Thought: A US-Israel Initiative"
First published in "Israel Hayom" newsletter, December 11, 2015

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