by Yoram Ettinger
The dramatic Westernization of Muslim demographics defies conventional wisdom. It requires the re-evaluation of economic, social and national security assumptions and the re-assessment of related policy.
For example, the fertility rate among young Arabs in Judea and Samaria — at an average of three births per woman — has converged with the respective fertility rates of young Israeli Arabs and Jews, while (mostly secular) Jewish fertility rates are currently trending upwards and Arab fertility rates are trending downwards.
The Arab fertility rate in Judea and Samaria is declining at an accelerated pace as a result of modernity: urbanization (70 percent rural in 1967 vs. 75% urban in 2012), increased education, especially among women (most of whom complete high school and increasingly attend community colleges), enhanced career mentality and growing integration into the workforce among women (reproduction starts later and ends earlier), all-time high median wedding age and divorce rate, minimal teen pregnancy (common in 1967 but rare in 2012), family planning and secularization.
David Goldman (“Spengler”) writes in his book "How Civilizations Die" that “as Muslim fertility shrinks at a rate demographers have never seen before, it is converging on Europe’s low fertility. … Iranian women in their 20s, who grew up with five or six siblings, will bear only one or two children during their lifetimes. ... By the middle of this century, the belt of Muslim countries from Morocco to Iran will become as gray as depopulating Europe."
“Demographers have identified several different factors associated with population decline: urbanization, education and literacy. ... Children in traditional societies had an economic value, as agricultural labor and as providers for elderly parents; urbanization and pension systems turned children into a cost rather than a source of income…. Dozens of new studies document the link between religious belief and fertility. ... [An] Iranian 25-year-old’s mother married in her teens and had several children by her mid-twenties. Her daughter has postponed family formation, or foregone it altogether, and spent her most fertile years on education and work. ... World fertility has fallen by about two children per woman in the past half century — from about 4.5 children per woman to about 2.5. Fertility in the Muslim world has fallen two or three times faster than the world average... Across the entire Muslim world, university-educated Muslim women bear children at the same rate as their infecund European counterparts. ... The only Muslim countries where women still give birth to seven or eight children are the poorest and least literate: Mali, Niger, Somalia and Afghanistan. ... Iran’s secular government under the late Shah put enormous efforts into education during the 1970s and 1980s. ... Ayatollah Khomeini’s Islamic Revolution slowed but could not stop the literacy movement.”
Director of the UN Population Division Hania Zlotnik argued that “In most of the Islamic world it’s amazing, the decline in fertility that has happened.” Eight of the 15 countries that experienced the biggest drop in population growth since 1980 are in the Middle East.
David Goldman (“Spengler”) states that “the only advanced country [other than the U.S.] to sustain high fertility rates is Israel...”
He criticizes Israeli leaders who based their policy on erroneous demographic assumptions: “Israeli concessions in the first decade of the 21st century [Rabin’s Oslo, Sharon’s uprooting of Jewish communities in Gaza and Olmert’s unprecedented proposed concessions] were motivated by fear that Arab fecundity would swamp Israel’s Jewish population. In actuality, quite the opposite was occurring..."
In fact, the Jewish fertility rate in Israel in 2012 — three births per woman — is higher than all Arab countries, other than Sudan, Yemen, Iraq and Jordan, which are trending downward. The average Israeli-born Jewish mother exceeds three births. Moreover, Israel’s robust demography yields uniquely promising economic, social, technological and national security ramifications.
According to Goldman, “Israel will have more young people than Italy or Spain, and as many as Germany, by the end of the century, if fertility remains unchanged. A century and a half after the Holocaust, the Jewish State will have more military-age men, and will be able to field a larger land army, than Germany.”
Israel’s rising (especially secular) Jewish fertility rate is in direct correlation to its relatively high-level optimism, collective responsibility, generational continuity (roots and future), patriotism, tradition, faith and value-driven education. Israel’s demographic tailwind is even more powerful, when considering the potential of 500,000 Olim during the next ten years.
The demographic, economic, military and diplomatic resources at the disposal of Israel in 2012 are dramatically superior to those available to Herzl in 1900, Ben-Gurion in 1948 and Shamir in 1992. Anyone suggesting that Jews are doomed to become a minority west of the Jordan River, that there is a demographic machete at the throat of the Jewish state and that the Jewish state must concede Jewish geography in order to secure Jewish demography, is either grossly mistaken or outrageously misleading!
Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.