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The Demographics of Israeli Politics

Secular and Religious

Photo Credit: Serge Attal/Flash90

The Israeli Arab status quo was destabilized by the left’s own last ditch effort to sideline the right by redefining Israel. Its Peace Process was poorly thought out and poorly implemented. And it made its grip on power even more unsustainable than it had been before, by making it easy for the right to present itself as the national security party. But it also encouraged Israeli Arab leaders to believe that the State of Israel might be toppling and to begin acting that way, effectively radicalizing them.

The right’s efforts to solve Arab demographics with unilateral disengagements and land swaps are equally misguided, not only because the demographics are overblown, but because the problem has not actually been solved by walking away from it. All that does is lead Israel back to a 1948 ghetto surrounded by hostile enemies whose welfare the world holds it responsible for and whose attacks cannot be meaningfully ended without taking control of the land that they are operating from.

Israel is running out of immigrants. Having exhausted Russia and the Middle East, it can only draw from the remaining reservoirs in Europe and the Americas. But that reservoir is also not unlimited. And drawing back the large numbers of Israelis who have immigrated would require reforming the bureaucracy enough to make running a small business a lot easier than it is.

Nor are migrant workers any kind of solution, unless Israel wants to go down the same road as Europe. The situation in Tel Aviv should be a wake-up call that Israel is not in any way immune from the same maladies and that enough migrants will quickly become a social problem of an entirely different class than any immigrant problem that has come before. The Lost Tribe variations that involve zeroing in on some population that can be claimed as one of the lost tribes is the same thing.

Israel has done everything possible to increase its birth rate, and its high birth rate is proof of that, but like most modern countries it is never going to be able to compete with the birth rate of patriarchal societies and subcultures. But it only truly has to compete with the Arab side.

Israel is lucky to have the Orthodox, just as America is lucky to have the Mormons. A country cannot survive without a high native birth rate and those high birth rates are found among traditionalists who have not gotten on board the modernist express train to demographic depletion. Even a country which does not accept immigrants, such as Japan, is struggling to deal with its demographic depletion. Countries which have immigrants or local populations with high birth rates have no future without traditionalist birth rates on their side.

A Haredi majority will take some political adjustment, but the left’s alarmism about turning into Iran is something even they know to be false. The Haredi camp could not unite enough to win elections in Jerusalem. It spends half its time fighting internal battles, which is something the left should be able to relate to. Nor does it have any interest in running the country as a whole. It would not know what to do with the country if it had it. Its cultural DNA is built to be a minority in a country run by other people. For it to embrace a national identity, it would have to become more like the Dati Leumi, the National Religious, who have their own sizable birth rate.

All this will mean that Israel will not look very much like the socialist utopia that the left imagined. But it already doesn’t. It is a country already dominated by the groups that the left does not like. The collective farms are turning into conventional farms. The privatization of state-owned industries has led to major economic changes. The accommodation of a society formed by traditionalist birth rates will be another of those changes.

About the Author: Daniel Greenfield is an Israeli born blogger and columnist, and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. His work covers American, European and Israeli politics as well as the War on Terror. His writing can be found at http://sultanknish.blogspot.com/. The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not represent the views of The Jewish Press.


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