This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

If you are a user of my textbook and would like to suggest a blog post idea, please email me at: john.weeks@sdsu.edu

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Israeli Geodemographics

Many thanks to Abu Daoud for calling attention to a very informative article on Israeli geodemographics that just appeared in ForeignPolicy.com. The article is timed to give readers a sense of what President Obama may be coping with on his visit to Israel next week, and it features an interview with Sergio Dellapergola, who is arguably Israel's pre-eminent demographer. The article includes a lot of useful demographic facts, some of which I have touched on before. Among the insights based on interpreting the data are these:
For Dellapergola, Israel's demographic future constitutes its central dilemma -- and this predicament has only been sharpened by the results of the recent election. Essentially, Israel faces two choices: It can be a conglomerate of tribes struggling against each other, or an open society that respects cultural and religious differences, where each citizen participates in building the economy and shaping the state's institutions.
Even more fundamentally, demographic trends mean that Israel can't have it all. It can't be a Jewish state, a democratic state, and a state in control of its whole historical land. It can only have two of its objectives at a time. Think of it this way: Israel can be Jewish and territorial -- but not democratic. Or it can be democratic and territorial -- but not Jewish. Or finally, it can be Jewish and democratic -- but not territorial. This third choice is the one that can conceivably lead to a two-state solution.
If you've ever read Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol, Dellapergola's projections have a ring of the Ghost of Christmas Future to them. Choices will have to be made. If they are not, Dellapergola seems to be saying that demographic realities will make the decisions, not Israel's leaders.
In other words, Israel cannot afford to ignore the demographic changes that are taking place within its own borders--never mind what is happening elsewhere in the region.

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