The ratio of Jews to Arabs can no longer be used to argue for further Israeli withdrawals, so supporters of the concept invent a new threat: a population explosion
“We have reached the ideal population size, we have filled the land, now we can start limiting the birthrate and think about the quality life and what kind of country we really want to be”
This is the topic of the book “The Land is Full,” written by Professor Alon Tal, who foresees a dark demographic future for Israel.
The “demographic problem” that Tal foresaw was not a Jewish minority, but actually the opposite – a high Israeli birthrate that in a relatively short amount of time could lead to a population explosion. Tal expects that by 2050, between 23 and 36 million people will live in Israel. The expected population explosion comes from the Jewish sector, the complete opposite of traditional leftwing dire predictions.
In doing so, Tal demolishes the “demographic demon” balloon and adopts an approach typical of the likes of Yoram Ettinger and Yaakov Feitelson. Since 2005, this team has been following the data independently, and its conclusion is that not only are the Arabs not going to be a majority, but Jewish demography is winning, big time.
With this he refutes the warnings that Jews will become a minority, and contradicts the attempts at fear-mongering warning of the “end of democracy” as a result of Jewish control over an Arab majority, or at least a large Arab minority.
Thanks to the disengagement of 2006, the Arabs of Gaza are not counted as being under Israeli rule. The Palestinian Authority has inflated the numbers of Arabs in Judea and Samaria at an embarrassing level. Jewish birthrates have been in a major upswing while that of Arabs on both sides of the green line have been falling.
Arabs are emigrating from Judea and Samaria to all parts of the world while many Jews are moving to Israel in light of increased anti-Semitism in the west. The basis for Tal’s prediction is these trends, which project a stable Jewish majority with a trend of growth.
Environmental quality vs. quantity
Tal is a person who has greatly contributed to the topic of environmental quality in Israel, but less so to the matter of environmental quantity, as he is a leftist who is ready to give up on significant parts of Israel.
From his perspective, which sees Israel decreasing its territory in the future, it is a logical conclusion to feel anxious about a population explosion, that would likely be significantly larger within the “mini Israel” of ’67 borders. So from there we get his recommendation to reduce the birthrate.
The policies of the left create a paradox. The classic leftist approach that advocates to “reluctantly” give up the heart of our land in order to not become a minority, has been trampled by the realized vision of dramatic Jewish growth.
Now, the left is senselessly leading us to a situation where, as since we have decreased territory, we must cut down on our birthrate in order to avoid a bloated population. However, if such a large population is forecasted, why according to left’s theory, should we not make sure to keep the areas of our birthplace, avoid the “pain” of giving up land, and have somewhere to house the growing population?
If the demographic problem is flipped and we are headed to being the majority and not the minority, then the solution to a population explosion needs to be geographic and not demographic, large territory in the place of a small population.
Tal recommends reaching about 10 million people within borders that obviously do not include Judea and Samaria. This recommendation would be inevitable in event of a surrender of Judea and Samaria as the area within the Green Line is already crowded today and a retreat from that land would leave no choice except to limit birthrates and aliyah to Israel. In doing so, Israel would be forced to retreat from Zionism and to essentially give up the grounds for its existence, which is to bring Jews to Israel.
Even today, the state is dragging its feet in incentivizing aliyah to Israel, despite the demand to immigrate. The reason for the government’s hesitation may be the increase in housing prices that has stemmed from an increase in demand that immigrants can bring with them. The rise in housing prices means political trouble for the coalition. In other words, the coalition is already paying a political price for the uninhibited population growth and the consequent rise in prices. As a result, the future of the state has been damaged from the crises delaying aliyah.
The conflict as an anecdote
In view of the predictions of dramatic Jewish growth, the issue of the “resolution of the conflict” seems far less problematic. The demographic threat to a Jewish majority from the Arabs of Judea and Samaria is emerging as a merely temporary situation that will be decided in favor of the Jews for whom the demographic cock is ticking.
A claim that advocates handing over the land only because, in the worst case in one interim period or another, the Arabs will not receive residency or citizenship, is not serious. The deprivation of voting rights for an interim period is not draconian, especially as the Arabs of Judea and Samaria conduct their lives within the framework of an autonomous authority.
The demographic dimension dwarfs the entire debate to the scope of an anecdote and reality will simply skip over it. However, the real good news is the possibilities opening before Israel and the Jewish nation as a result.
If by 2050 there will be 30 million Jews in Israel then we can aspire to there being 50 million Jews by the end of the century and to work for it as well. A country of 50 million inhabitants is already a regional power. Already today, with just 8 million residents, Israel has been leaping forward with many achievements. It has become an object of admiration and pilgrimage from around the world.
An Inevitable Power
We not only have the luxury of becoming a superpower, but in fact we have no choice but to become one.
We are positioned in the center of a wild region, murderous and violent, which produces and exports most of the Earth’s troubles today. Our enemies are killing each other as if they are living in the 7th century. Women are sold in markets and populations are killed indiscriminately.The world is heading towards instability stemming from the collapse of the Middle East.
Migrants that are flooding to the west from our region and from Africa generate crime, terror and destroy the existing order. “Progressive” countries are quiet in the face of the waves of migrants. They do not understand and are even indifferent to the danger that hovers over their culture. To the detriment of the West, there is also a huge reduction in fertility, resulting in aging societies experiencing tremendous social shocks that will inevitably lead to economic crises.
This is not the stable world with the known and recognized rules of the game, but a world in crisis, a world with no God, without responsible adults, facing major crises and heading towards an economic collapse and international and civil wars. In this era, woe to those who are small and weak and therefore the quick growth of Israel is critical to its existence, a race against time.
Against this background, a leftist who examines the demographic reality and understands that we are on the way to being large, comes to the absurd conclusion that our goal is to remain small.
A boutique state
This is at the core of the internal debate in Israel. What do we want to be? A small, elite state or a country that does not indulge others and gathers to itself all Jews including those who do not find favor in the eyes of the elites?
The approach of Alon Tal sentences us to be small in territory and as a result, we will become small in population, a leaf blowing at the whim of regional storms. The motive to give up territory is no longer a forced constraint but the desire to be small, to focus on “quality.” Tal and his camp are sentencing Israel, in the best case scenario, to be a small state, weak, damaged and forever dependent.
What is the barrier that Israel must pass in order to allow a break through? Since the increase in the Jewish population is a given, where will the immigrants and the Sabras live? The heart of the motherland, Judea and Samara, is the Jewish, Zionist, natural, necessary and critical solution for beginning the process. Alternatively, turning over land will destroy any chance to be big.
Most areas of Judea and Samaria are empty. If we combine the Jewish and Arab populations, they only occupy 7% of the area while the areas of Israel within the Green Line from Be’er Sheva and up to the north are three times as crowded, as 20% is built up. The “in demand”areas of Gush Dan and Jerusalem have almost no room and the prices are high in conjunction.
Opening up Judea and Samaria to limitless building can provide a short and medium term solution for the demand in Jerusalem and Gush Dan, as western Samaria is nothing but “Gush Dan East.” A massive buildup along the spine of the existing towns, together with widening the roads and building up train tracks will provide important supply in areas of demand, a perfect solution to the land crisis.
On the other hand, giving up on Judea and Samaria will sentence Israel to be small in an irreversible way in the near future. The world, which is making every effort to remove Israel from Judea and Samaria, will not ever allow us to return there and will then lead to a triple disaster: Disconnect the Jews from their heartland and identity, preventing the future growth of Israel and pushing it to borders that carry with it no logic. In other words, giving up Judea and Samaria is not just giving up on the past, but on the future.
If you don’t interrupt, it is no legend
Those who intend to take the path of withdrawal should start limiting their birthrates now and inform the Jewish people not to immigrate to Israel. This is a double historic capitulation of Zionism. Israel will not survive such a process. It must decide whether to embark on a course of decay or on a path that could lead us to becoming a superpower.
The solution to the conflict is inherent within a wider vision that could be achieved if we want it, see it as a goal and nurture the processes leading to its realization.
Compared to the utopian vision of Herzl, this is much easier. The foundation already exists and the processes are already happening and moving forward. To paraphrase Herzl – If we do not interrupt, it is no legend.
(Translated from Mida.org.il Hebrew)
The writer is a political commentator, a resident of Kiryat Arba in Hebron and conducts tours of Judea and Samaria
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