The Exploding Demographic Bomb: It’s The Jews

Those in favor of the two-state solution (TSS) have long cited demographics as the one argument that the anti-TSS people cannot refute. TSS proponents claim that there will soon be an overwhelming majority of Arabs in Judea and Samaria, making it a gross faux pas to continue to insist this territory remain part of a “Jewish” state. But demographics are statistics and statistics are funny things. They are facts and yet they can be skewed to offer a false picture through the manipulation of context.

Those of us who bother to look beyond the statistics presented for public consumption have long known that the demographics argument was skewed because the stats were skewed. The sheeple, however, continued to insist we were wrong.

One member of the flock, veteran anti-Israel columnist Tom Friedman, wrote about the demographics bomb in 1987, when he said that in 12 years’ time, that bomb would go off and Israel would meet a perilous end. My Israellycool colleague, Brian of London, put it best in his own inimitable way when in a recent blog piece he said, “When I add 12 to 1987 I get, errr, a long time ago.”

Thomas "Sheeple" Friedman

Thomas “Sheeple” Friedman

Well, you can’t blame old Tom (actually you can) for swallowing whole the myth that the Palestinian population growth is wildly out of control. Like so many other people, including Ira Stup, Director of JStreet U, he bases his argument on inflated Palestinian statistics which were, in some cases, doubled by the Palestinian Authority (PA). Surprise! (Not)

Ira Stup

Ira Stup

Ira asked to meet with me this past July. He planned on bringing a student tour to Israel and had a proposition for me. He came all the way out to beautiful Efrat to take me out to breakfast in a local café (don’t tell the BDS people—he could. ZOUNDS. Lose his job). Ira wanted to know if I would be interested in offering my settler perspective to groups of students. Did I know other articulate settlers that could take part in this endeavor? Would I be willing to secure a venue and create an ongoing program for this purpose?

Hmmm. Did I really want to take money from JStreet? Feh.

But I promised I would think it over. I threw out a few names and I said I’d be in touch after speaking to some of my contacts.

The conversation then moved on to our world views.

Ira told me about the poor oppressed Arabs he’d met with in Judea and Samaria. Didn’t they deserve a state? They were treated so badly by Israel and the IDF, he said.

I said, “They are lying to you.”

“Oh, no,” he said. “They wouldn’t do that.”

Um. Oh yes they would.

I asked him what he thought his grandfather would say about his work for JStreet. He said, “I think my grandfather would see my work as a natural continuation of his Zionist ethic, making sure that Israel is held to the highest moral standards.”

Cue The Violins

Oh puke vomit. Cue the violins.

Ira asked me, “What will you do when, in a few years’ time, the Palestinian Arabs way outnumber the Jews in the settlements? Will you continue to occupy them? Will you continue to insist this territory be labeled a “Jewish” state?”

“Um, Ira? The whole demographic argument is based on skewed stats provided by the PA. They doubled the numbers. It’s been proven,” said I.

He said, “I don’t believe that. I’d like to see those stats.”

I promised I would email him the links and I did.

I received an out-of-office response. I sent him some more links a few weeks later and he never responded. He never got back to me about the program he wanted me to create, and I knew he never would.

I thought about all this when I watched this video (in Hebrew with English subtitles) of Dr. Guy Bechor citing data culled from both the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics (ICBS) and the CIA World Factbook:

Dr. Bechor describes a collapse of the Arab birth rate throughout the Middle East and a corresponding rise in the Jewish population in Israel, not only in the Haredi community but in the wider secular population as well. Bechor describes a “magic number” for analyzing demographics of 2.1 children per family and says that any figure lower than this represents a negative growth in population below replacement level. Only Israel has an average birth rate of above 3 children per family, higher than anywhere else in the world!

Demographics

Dr. Guy Bechor

For Israeli families in which both parents are Israeli-born Sabras, the average birth rate is 3.4 children per family. In Europe, the figures hover at averages of 1.1, 1.2, 1.3 children per family. Bechor cites these low figures as the reason for Europe’s impending collapse because, according to these real, unskewed demographic figures, there will be no future generation of Europeans.

Bechor then talks about the Middle East. According to the CIA website, which carries statistics from 2003, the average Palestinian birth rate in 2003 was over 5. By 2013, however, the average birth rate had dropped to 2.7! In 2003, the average birth rate in Saudi Arabia was over 6. By 2013, it had dropped to an astonishing average of 2.2 children per family.

The panel in the clip goes on to discuss the causes of the dropping Arab (and world) birth rate and mentions higher standards of living and education as known factors in lowering the birth rate. Most Arabs have migrated to large cities. They no longer need such large families and Arab women want to do more than just take care of children.

Dr. Bechor says that California has the lowest birth rate in America with an average of just 1 child per family. When asked why they have so few children, Californians will tell you that they’d rather go to the movies than save up money for raising children. Children are expensive. It’s a matter of self-fulfillment.

The funny thing is, when you ask Israelis why they have so many children, the answer they’ll give you is, “Self-fulfillment.” Dr. Bechor calls this the, “Same reason but the opposite effect.”

I would love to quote Dr. Bechor to Ira Stup, in particular, the part of the clip in which he states that the highest population growth in Israel is in Judea and Samaria (Yesha), in what Ira would call the “West Bank”). The average number of children per family in Yesha is 6 children per family.I’d like to think I played a part in skewing those statistics, but in a truthful way.

Demographics1

I have 12 children. And it’s true what they say about the education factor. I didn’t go to college.

I may be on to something here.

 

About Varda Epstein

A third-generation-born Pittsburgher on her mother’s mother’s side, Varda moved to Israel 34 years ago and is a crazy political animal who spams people with right wing political articles on Facebook in between writing about education as the communications writer at Kars for Kids, raising her 12 children, and noshing constantly on fried food

Facebook Comments

  • ScottAdler

    Let’s hope the Heredim get the same idea.

    • Varda Meyers Epstein

      I’m not sure what you mean, but I am Haredi, so I hope you don’t mean what I think you mean.

      • Sharon A

        Not haredi and went to college, 6 kids, but then I never fit a stereotype ever.

        • Varda Meyers Epstein

          That’s why you’re such a fun gal to spend time with :-)

    • nanaloshen

      Chabad, have a Master’s degree, work outside the home, have 6 kids. Oh yeah.

      • Carl

        You’re the exception. As long as the Haredim don’t expect the Israeli taxpayer to pay for and to die for their kids, let them have as many children as they want.

        • Varda Meyers Epstein

          My boys serve. In combat units.

          • Carl

            I’m glad that they do. Just take a walk through Bnei Brak or many areas of Jerusalem and see how many army age Haredi men are walking around.

          • Philassie

            I don’t think such a staunch zionist who sends her kids to the army an sees settling the land as such a mitzvah as to walk the walk in such a risky way can be considered haredi in any way whatsoever. Varda, you are a kippa sruga family are you not?

            • Varda Meyers Epstein

              1) I am not a political Zionist. I just believe in the mitzvah of settling the land and living in the land.
              2) I am NOT a kipa sruga family. But I do live in a Kipa sruga community.

              You could say I’m an anomaly.

              • Philassie

                excellent anomaly… take the plunge lol

        • unpluggged

          As long as there are Jews who are irritated by other Jews or don’t respect them, there will be no peace on our land.

          • Carl

            As long as the average Israeli taxpayer has to support men and working of working age who choose not to work and dodge the draft (and view the people who support them with contempt) there will no peace in our land.

            • unpluggged

              I chose to dodge the draft (and IDF is totally OK with that, BTW). And I’m not Haredi. In fact, I even not a Jew per Halacha. And I also don’t pay taxes in Israel. And I don’t vote. So what? Tell all this bullshit to your government that gives away billions of sheqels annually to Arabs of the so-called “PA”.

  • Norman_In_New_York

    Ira Stup? What an appropriate name!

    Actually, I think Dr. Bechor exaggerates when he says Israel has the highest birth rate. Among Westernized people, yes. But I think the birth rate in sub-Sahara Africa and India is higher. Nevertheless, this is good news.

    • Varda Meyers Epstein

      I agree about the name. Great minds and etc.

      • rulierose

        I was thinking the same thing! (but that just made me think of Lili von Shtupp in Blazing Saddles).

        great column, Varda.

        • Varda Meyers Epstein

          I’m SO TIRED. :-)

    • YehoshuaFriedman

      India has a gendercide problem which complicates matters. Sub-Sahara Africa has mortality from AIDS and other diseases.

  • One4Zion

    Great article as always..Varda is a gem of a woman…One brief comment: why do jews living in J&S insist on using the derogatory term used by jew haters: i.e: “settlers”… You are no settler. J&S is no settlement, the same way “west bank” is a PC term to describe land liberated by Israel in 1967.
    Please stop using “settlers”. You are more Israeli than most Israelis because you choose to challenge the status quo and live in our ancient land.Kudos to you.

    • Varda Meyers Epstein

      One4Zion, thank you for your kind comments. As for your question, there is a mitzvah in the Torah called Kivush HaAretz, and that is literally “settling the land.”

      When I came to live in Gush Etzion 30 years ago, I lived in a prefab caravan on a barren hilltop with no sidewalks, stores, or buses. We had our water trucked in on a daily basis and my husband ran a generator for the first 15 families that lived on that settlement.

      I am a settler and proud of it, despite the negative connotation that the media has attributed to that term. We live in a rough neighborhood and have to cope with conditions most people couldn’t imagine. We do it out of love for our indigenous land.

      • One4Zion

        Love it…your take is interesting, the reference to the bible, and I agree with it. However my point was, is, what you might consider a Mitzvah others (ie: the enemies of Israel) will use it as an excuse to question our goals. I often read propagandists say “see? even jews who live in the “west bank” consider themselves settlers..even they call themselves settlers”… what we might see as semantics, jew haters use it to attack our legitimacy.
        PS: you, your husband, your family, I have a deep admiration for all of you…you’re heroes in my eyes.

        • Varda Meyers Epstein

          I believe firmly that fighting the narrative calls for using language with accuracy. The word “settler” to me is a beautiful, positive, meritorious word.

          They occupied our land and destroyed all we had built. We are taking it back through settlement.

          Maybe we should call ourselves “resettlers.”

          • One4Zion

            Totally agree..or maybe use the word “settler” in Israel only…I’ve been called a settler (was born in Yafo) here in Canada (where i live) many times. i always say, there is no such thing. Jews living in Israel are Israelis, especially those who live in J&S, which, btw, have a more lovely gentilic: Judeans.. All the best to you and your family, Varda….

            • Varda Meyers Epstein

              I take your point, One4Zion. Kol tuv!

    • unpluggged

      The name “West Bank” has nothing to do with political correctness. It’s a most politically incorrect name. “West Bank” is the name given by Transjordan to the part of Israel they managed to occupy in 1948.

      • Varda Meyers Epstein

        I agree completely. But most journalists will tell you it’s the accepted term. They are complicit in perpetuating a false narrative.

  • steven

    Thomas Friedman who can’t keep his lying straight for example.In his book from Beirut to Jerusalem he has this great insight http://books.google.com/books?id=877DR3un9rIC&printsec=frontcover&dq=thomas+friedman+beirut+jerusalem&hl=en&sa=X&ei=1zWRUvn9BJOzsQTMgYHwBQ&ved=0CC8Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=crescent&f=false.Thats number one. He also wrote in his book that in college in he had no preconceived idea’s about the middle east conflict yet he was a member of breira the forerunner of all these leftists groups

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