Demography need not make Israel’s destiny

Clyde Prestowitz, spec­u­lat­ing on the rea­son young Israelis are more pes­simistic than young Egyptians.

” …the aver­age GDP per capi­ta is indeed high in Israel, but the bulk of the GDP goes to a thin slice or the rich­est por­tion of soci­ety. The gap between rich and poor in Israel is among the world’s high­est. More­over, the low unem­ploy­ment num­bers mask the fact that a large por­tion of the pop­u­la­tion is sim­ply not in the work force. For instance, of Israel’s 7 mil­lion cit­i­zens, about 1 mil­lion live abroad, many of them because they see the cor­ro­sive impact of the Israel/Palestinian con­flict extend­ing far into the future. Of the remain­ing 6 mil­lion about 1.5 mil­lion are Israeli Arabs and about 800,000 are the so called Hared­im or Ultra Ortho­dox Jews. Among the Ultra-Ortho­dox , most of the men (80 per­cent) engage in study of the Torah and are not work­ing. Only about 50 per­cent of the women work and they do most­ly menial jobs. Among the Israeli Arabs about 60 per­cent of men are work­ing but only about 20 per­cent of women.

Now if you look at the demo­graph­ics, the birth rates of the Ultra-Ortho­dox and Israeli Arabs are far above those of the sec­u­lar Jew­ish pop­u­la­tion. So, fast for­ward­ing ten to twen­ty years into the future, we find the dan­ger that rel­a­tive­ly few­er and few­er Israelis are work­ing, or serv­ing in the mil­i­tary (Arabs and Ultra-Ortho­dox re exempt­ed from ser­vice), or pay­ing tax­es to sup­port the wel­fare pay­ments that keep the Ultra-Ortho­dox alive.

As my friend not­ed, the real dan­ger to Israel may not be democ­ra­cy in Egypt, but demog­ra­phy in Israel.” Extract from Clyde Prestowitz in For­eign Policy

But demog­ra­phy is des­tiny only in the absence of appro­pri­ate poli­cies. Lib­er­al voic­es in Israel are call­ing for those poli­cies, now: a rev­o­lu­tion in Israel, too.

For 40 years now, Israeli gov­ern­ments have wors­ened our sit­u­a­tion through the con­tin­ued occu­pa­tion, the recur­rent wars, depriv­ing work­ers’ rights, dimin­ish­ing health and wel­fare ser­vices, increas­ing and aggra­vat­ing soci­etal gaps of all kinds, and — in more recent years — erod­ing demo­c­ra­t­ic rights and per­son­al free­doms, and grow­ing gov­ern­ment cor­rup­tion…

The truth is that we’re all yearn­ing for a rev­o­lu­tion. We watch with frus­tra­tion all of those oth­er peo­ple who have suc­ceed­ed in mak­ing a change — not just tried, but suc­ceed­ed — and we want the same. We, too, want to shape our lives, we also want some­thing excit­ing and pos­i­tive to hap­pen to us, some­thing awe­some and inspir­ing — and most of all some­thing that gives hope. Boy, do we need hope.” Extract from Why there’s no rev­o­lu­tion in Israel — Haaretz Daily 

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