Friday, August 22, 2008

Projection Which Does Not Fulfill Itself

“Globes”, interview with Yoram Ettinger, August 21, 2008

“…This is still the state of Israel, home of the Jewish People… Many experts projected a different reality. However, their projections have not been realized, which is very pleasant to remember, in advance of future projections… This is not demography, this is Demographobia. Expert projections are powerful. They influence national security, economic and social policy decisions. Yoram Ettinger, a member of the American-Israel Demographic Research Group (AIDRG), says that a set of projections almost delayed Israel’s declaration of independence. ‘The founder of Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics (ICBS), Professor Roberto Bacchi, attempted to convince Ben Gurion to postpone the establishment of the Jewish State.’ According to Ettinger, ‘Bacchi projected [e.g. in October 1944] that Israel’s Jews were doomed to become a minority. He determined that in 2001 Israel’s Jewish population would total 560,000 between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean [or 1.6 million Jews according to the optimist scenario of 1 million Olim]. Obviously, it was a mistake, and since then ICBS demographic projections have crashed against the rocks of reality.’

In 2008, the demographic threat is alive and kicking, exacerbating Israel’s existential anxiety. Ettinger claims that although ICBS documentation of current numbers is carved in stone, ICBS’ projections are problematic.’

According to ICBS projections, the share of Israel’s Arab population will grow by 2030. Ettinger maintains that ‘these projections are baseless. Such projections feed Demographobia [illogical fear of demography]. ICBS’ fundamental assumptions have been erroneous. In 1948, Professor Bacchi assumed that the Arab population will sustain [at least until 2001] high fertility rates of 6-7 births per woman, in contrast with 2 births per Jewish woman [2.1 is required to retain population level]. Professor Bacchi was devastatingly wrong. In 2008, Arab fertility rate is trending downward at 3.5, while Jews trend upward at 2.8 births per woman.’”

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