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Sunday, August 22, 2010

Newsweek notices Yoram Ettinger

I've discussed Yoram Ettinger's work many times on this blog. Yoram is a former Israeli Consul General in Houston and has spent much of the last four years disproving the 'demographic time bomb' that the Left has been selling us since Oslo. Unfortunately, Yoram's work doesn't get enough exposure, especially in the 'international media.' Here's Newsweek.
Ettinger makes three broad points: that Palestinians have substantially inflated their numbers in the West Bank by, for example, continuing to count people long after they've taken up residence abroad; that the Palestinian fertility rate both in the West Bank and in Israel has been declining faster than projected; and that Jewish births have grown significantly over the past 15 years, thanks mainly to the large influx of immigrants to Israel from the former Soviet Union (but also as a result of a moderately rising Jewish fertility rate). "The demographic trend is Jewish," Ettinger concludes. "Anyone claiming that Israel must concede geography in order to secure demography is either mistaken or misleading."

To American ears, this fixation with ethnic head-counting can sound vaguely racist. It's hard to imagine a mainstream political activist in the U.S. openly reassuring whites that their majority is not in jeopardy. But Israel's own designation of itself as a Jewish state means, among other things, that Israelis are stuck constantly monitoring (and even trying to regulate) the demographic balance between Jews and non-Jews. And not just Palestinians, by the way. A debate underway here about whether to offer residency rights to some longtime foreign workers also has demographic overtones.

But how accurate is Ettinger's data? Sergio DellaPergola, a professor at Jerusalem's Hebrew University and perhaps Israel's most oft-cited demographer, concedes some points to Ettinger—for instance his discovery that the Palestinian figures included an assumption since 2001 of 45,000 net immigration annually, which has not materialized. But on the big issues, Ettinger is either overstating the significance of Palestinian miscalculations or misrepresenting data to substantiate his political viewpoint, according to DellaPergola. Take the Palestinian birthrate, for example. The decline over the past 20 years has been substantial—from about seven children per family to between four and five children. But population growth is a function of more than just birth rate—a matter that Ettinger's presentation leaves out. Age composition is also significant. And since the Palestinian population remains much younger than the Jewish population—the median Jewish age is 30, while the median Palestinian age is about 20--many more Palestinian families are having children, while the Palestinian death rate is significantly lower. As a result, DellaPergola says, the rate of growth among Palestinians is still about twice what it is among Jews.

When you include Gazans in the count (the idea that Israel would somehow be allowed to enfranchise Palestinians of the West Bank while leaving Gazans hard up would never pass muster with the international community that enfranchisement is meant to placate), Palestinians are already approaching the 50 percent mark, according to DellaPergola—a troubling figure for Israelis who want to believe they can both annex the Palestinian territories and retain Israel's Jewish character. But even if Ettinger's numbers are right, the implications aren't much different. "My argument is that even a 60-40 division between Jews and Arabs or a 65-35 division gives you a binational state in which you cannot continue to control all the instruments of power," DellaPergola says. Turns out the new math is a lot like the old math.
I can think of a lot of reasons why Israel might at some point in the future be able to enfranchise Judea and Samaria without Gaza. The biggest one is Hamas. We may eventually get to the point where the 'international community' acknowledges that there is no such thing as a 'Palestinian' and that the overwhelming majority of Gaza's Arabs belong with Egypt.

There's more than that to Ettinger's argument. Notably, Newsweek ignores the net EMIGRATION of Arabs from Judea and Samaria since 2000 and the fact that many more would like to leave.

Finally, Newsweek entitles its article The Phony-Number Maker. To whom was that meant to refer? Surely it should not refer to Ettinger.

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