DEFINITION OF DEMOGRAPHY: Population numbers and the vital statistics within that population (like within certain age ranges).
CAUTION: Don’t confuse “Demography” with “Democracy”
1948: THE BEGINNING OF THE STATE OF ISRAEL: Israel’s founders wanted a Jewish state. O. K. And….they also wanted a democracy.
That was a problem. Guess why? They knew they would be inclusive…they would include the Palestinians who were also living there. But what if the Palestinians had more people than the Israelis did? Then, it wouldn’t be a Jewish state, because the Jews could easily be outvoted by the Palestinians.
Therefore, they needed to have more voters than the Palestinians—more people eligible to vote in order to have Jewish laws, Jewish holidays and unlimited Jewish immigration.
Solution #1: Give up the sections of the land that had a lot more Palestinians than Jews. Give up part of the land that the United Nations Plan was allotting them. The response to that solution: “NO! Not on your life.”
Solution #2: Expel some of the Palestinians presently living there. The response to that solution: “Very definitely NO! Prime Minister Ben-Gurion, in writing to his son, dated October, 1937, said: “We do not wish and do not need to expel Arabs and take their place….there is enough room for ourselves and the Arabs in Palestine.”
Solution #3: THE BEST solution: get more Jews into that new Israeli State so that it would have a Jewish majority. If it were going to be a Zionist, Jewish state, there would have to be more Jews than all other nationalities combined. Right? Right.
So…get more Jews in there! Promote immigration to Israel!
O. K….there was the challenge! The first challenge had been to acquire the land. Both the League of Nations in 1922 and later, the United Nations in 1947 voted to allot part of Palestine to the Jews. So, the Jews had their place; but they needed more people.
Many had warned that a Jewish nation was nothing more than a fanciful dream, because when the Zionist Congress convened at the turn of the 20th century, there were only one hundred thousand Jews in the land.
Plus, about fifty years later, at the beginning of the new state, the warnings by demographers continued predicting doom. Why? Because Arab birthrates were far higher among the Arabs than the Israelis. Arab families were much larger.
But two waves of Jewish immigration occurred in the years after Israel became a state in 1948.
1. First, as soon as the Israelis declared their independence in 1948, the North African nations (Egypt, Libya, Moracco, etc.) expelled all their Jews, confiscating all their possessions. That increased Israel’s population by around 500,000--with a branch of Jews and Judaism (the Mizrahi) that boasted a high birthrate. What a blessing!
But decade after decade the skeptics proclaimed a demographic disaster on the horizon: not enough Israelis to hold onto the land! We’d better….the Israelis had better… give up a large section of their land, because the number of Arab/Palestinians are overtaking us!
“Demographic disaster is at hand!”
A pessimistic study by an Israeli Haifa University professor was cited by journalists and liberal politicians as they urged Israel to give up land. “Give it up!” they cried. “The Arabs will soon be in the majority!”
Many Israeli Jews as well as Jews abroad were adamant--Israel—so small—would have to give back all of Judea and Samaria which was dumped in their laps at the end of the Six-Day War of 1967.
2. But, the second major immigration of Jewish people came from Russia following the disintegration of the Soviet Union in the early 1990’s. That added more than a million Jews to the Israeli fold. Wow!
Still, the skeptics were not through. Neither was Yassir Arafat, the head of the Palestine Liberation Organization who declared: We will make life unbearable for Jews by psychological warfare and population explosion.
Arafat considered the wombs of Arab women as his secret “demographic bomb.”
But, a dramatic sea change has startled those who are informed:
The Turn of the Millenium
Something has happened to the Israeli populace as well as to the Palestinians—in their birth rates--an utterly dramatic change in a relatively short period of time!
In 2,000, for each Arab child born in Israel there were two Jewish children: a ratio of 2/1.
In 2010, for each Arab child born in Israel there were three Jewish children: a ratio of 3/1.
In 2020, two years from now, if current trends hold, for every Arab child born in Israel there will be four Jewish children: a ratio of 4/1.
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“The word of the Lord of hosts came to me saying: Thus says the Lord of hosts: I am jealous for Zion with great jealousy, and I am jealous for her with great wrath. Thus says the Lord: I will return to Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem….Old men and old women shall again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each with staff in hand because of their great age. And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the streets. Thus says the Lord of hosts: even though it seems impossible to the remnant of this people in these days, should it also seem impossible to me, says the Lord of hosts?....I will save my people from the east country and from the west country, and I will bring them to live in Jerusalem. They shall be my people, and I shall be their God, in faithfulness and in righteousness.” Zechariah 8:1-3a,4b-8 (NRSV)