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July 12, 2003

Juden lebensraum!

A month ago I posted about Jewish immigration to Germany-here is a follow-up story in Newsweek.


...Germany’s pre-war Jewish community of 500,000 was just 15,000 after the war. Now, it’s back up to 200,000. More than 60 synagogues have been built or refurbished in the past few years, many in cities where Jewish life had been all but extinguished.

There are complications: as many as 30 percent of the immigrants aren’t recognized as Jews by German rabbis because their mothers weren’t Jewish. (For Soviet authorities, the father passed on his “nationality,” whereas in Jewish rite, it’s the mother.) The head of Germany’s Central Council of Jews last year asked the government to remove “improper” Jews from the applicants. But the German Foreign Ministry refused: never again, officials said, would Germans sort out who is a Jew.


If, as I suspect, Israel becomes an untenable state for Jews in future generations because of the growth of the Arab citizenry because of the latter's high birthrates (20% of the population now, I don't think that Jews would be comfortable if they grew to more than 30%, which it seems like they will barring another infusion of Jewish immigrants like the post-Soviet one or a sharp drop in Arab birthrates), I have always believed that the United States would be the number one destination for the Israeli Jewry fleeing the sinking boat of the "Jewish" state. But now I wonder, Germany has a problem with an aging native population, and a growing hostile Muslim minority, perhaps an influx of Jews could serve as a nice counterweight to the latter.

Just some heterodox ideas.

Posted by razib at 11:26 AM




"If, as I suspect, Israel becomes an untenable state for Jews in future generations because of the growth of the Arab citizenry because of the latter's high birthrates (20% of the population now, I don't think that Jews would be comfortable if they grew to more than 30%, which it seems like they will barring another infusion of Jewish immigrants like the post-Soviet one or a sharp drop in Arab birthrates)"

You could say the same of any Western country with a high-birthrate minority. Let me assure you there no plans for mass abandonment.

Besides, the Israeli Arabs live in their own isolated population centres, and except in a very small number of 'mixed towns' ( as we call them ), there is basically ZERO everyday contact between Jewish and Arab populations in Israel.

The Arabs might *someday* become so numerous that there will no longer be room for them in those areas...but I don't think the point where they become 30% of the population is this point.

Posted by: Melnorme at July 12, 2003 12:06 PM


Razib:
Is there a special program for jews to immigrate to Germany? If so, jews may feel more inclined to immigrate to Germany than US due to social and cultural factors. Proximity to Israel would be anothe plus.

Saks

Posted by: Saks at July 12, 2003 12:12 PM


uh, the israeli arabs are not just any high birthrate minority ;) they have some issues with israel (and they start from a much larger % of the population)....

also-my point isn't about population density and "living space," but political participation. once arabs hit a certain % of the electorate, you can't really put them at the margins of political life without illiberally intentioned legislation. once israeli arabs become important stake-holders and begin to shape some of the important policies of the state i suspect you will see "jewish flight." the process will hit a tipping point as more & more jews flee an arabicizing country.

P.S. this is not some fantasy of mine ;) i don't have much interest in whether israel as a state survives-though i do hope that the jews continue to exist as a people since they make such a disproportionate contribution to western civilization....

Posted by: razib at July 12, 2003 12:14 PM


To date, the Arabs have had very little effect on Israeli politics. They are fragmented into many rather stagnant parties, usually amounting to about 10-15 parliament members total ( out of 120 in the Israeli Parliament ).

Supposedly, they are frustrated and disillusioned with the Israeli govermenment, and want nothing to do with it, and so have low turnout at election day, and low political motivation.

I say 'supposedly' because I don't really know that many Arabs, except pro-Israel non-Muslim Arabs whom I've met in the army. ( btw, this is another factor you've ignored. Druze, Christians and even Bedouins feel less 'strongly' about Israel than Muslims )

Posted by: Melnorme at July 12, 2003 12:25 PM


you don't need to clue me into israeli politics-i have a close friend whose father was an arab from narazeth and has duel citizeship (american & israeli). he is pretty moderate and non-religious, but he gives me an idea toward the mild to extreme antipathy that muslim arabs have toward israel (and his family is made up of professionals).

my impression is that arabs in israel are 90% muslim btw, even narazeth just became a muslim majority city from what i remember my friend telling me.

Posted by: razib at July 12, 2003 12:35 PM


Sorry if I sounded condescending in my previous posts. I've been following GNXP for a month or two, and it seems that just about everyone out there has their own personal plans and theories about my country. ;) I sometimes wonder how much people actually know about how people live here.

That said, Muslims are about 75% of the Arab population - this includes Bedouins, many of who are generally indifferent to the Palestinian cause, judging by the large numbers of them serving in IDF desert tracker units.

Posted by: Melnorme at July 12, 2003 12:44 PM


info from the israeli census....
http://www.cbs.gov.il/shnaton53/shnatone53.htm#1

Posted by: razib at July 12, 2003 01:11 PM


btw, check out
http://www.cbs.gov.il/shnaton53/g03a.pdf

Total Fertility Rate for Jews ~ 2.6, for Moslems, ~4.75....

Posted by: razib at July 12, 2003 01:13 PM


One thing's for sure, there will have to be a *large* change in the current political attitude of Israeli Arabs if they want to utilize their growing demographic power.

Actually, the ideal solution to this problem would be to convince the Israeli Arabs to join their brethren in the future Palestinian territories. I don't think they'd want to, though. Life is good in Israel, despite everything. If they did, though, they could quickly assert themselves as the elite class among the Palestinians...

Posted by: Melnorme at July 12, 2003 01:41 PM


f they did, though, they could quickly assert themselves as the elite class among the Palestinians

perhaps, but my israeli arab friend tells me that those that stayed in israel often were the ones with little to lose or gain-the poor. the wealthy families left, in anticipation of the arab reconquest. there might be problems if educated israeli arabs without the storied lineages come and try to assert dominance over less educated families who used to have a lot of power before israel.

Posted by: razib at July 12, 2003 02:06 PM


Perhaps. The truth is I don't see them migrating en mass to the West Bank anyway...the Israeli Arabs are kind of 'the mystery sector' here.

They're so isolated, and the mainstream
( Hebrew ) media doesn't really tell much about them. Nobody knows what they're really planning. ;)

Back to the main subject...fleeing to Germany. Do you think the Germans would be happy to accept hundreds of thousands of Arabic-looking, supposedly low-IQ Sephardic and Oriental Jews? Heck, some people think *Ashkenazic* Jews look Middle Eastern. What would they think about them?

( A better destination for Sephardim would be France, which already has a large, well-established, and even wealthy, Sephardic Jewish community. )

Posted by: Melnorme at July 12, 2003 02:16 PM


Do you think the Germans would be happy to accept hundreds of thousands of Arabic-looking, supposedly low-IQ Sephardic and Oriental Jews?

of course-but they won't say no ;) other nations can say no, germany is one nation that won't, and if they do, the censure form other nations will be very intense!

Posted by: razib at July 12, 2003 02:24 PM


By the way...how do you think Jews could function as a 'counterweight' to Muslims in Germany?

Posted by: Melnorme at July 12, 2003 02:29 PM


I was thinking "target" would be a better term, at least if the experience in the Middle East was anything to go by.

Posted by: Ken at July 12, 2003 03:12 PM


Razib -- Look at the changing Arab sector birthrates over the past few decades. The Christian community has already gone thru the demographic transition, and the Muslims community is in the early stages (and, presumably, as the community gets wealthier and better integrated, birthrates will drop faster).

Jonathan over at Headheeb does a ton of posts on the Arab sector (as you know). Look thru the top of his right sidebar -- from Israel's ambassador to Finalnd (Ali Yahya) to several thousand words on Arab Israeli identity. He discusses Palestinianization, among other things. Plus there is a hell of a lot of discussion in the comments, almost all of it intelligent.

I think he doubts that Arabs will ever make up more than 30% of the pop, given demographic trends. They may make up a majority of the Triangle, and significant portions of Haifa and the Negev, but Arabs have next to no presence in Tel-Aviv and surrounding areas (see Israeli Census documents). Randy McDonald has also posted on this a bit.

Mirandica/Quite Contrary, a Former-USSR Jew in Germany, occasionally writes on her personal experiences and the nature of the Jewish community in Germany.

ExpatEgghead (or maybe Andrew Lazurus, I forget exactly), who lives in Israel, has mentioned the popularity of the emigration option -- but this has always been emigration to the USA. I've never heard Germany mentioned.

As with any topic on the Israel-Palestine issue, this topic has been blogged to death in a thousand different ways in a thousand different forums. Though there can always be a new spin on an old issue. And GNXP certainly spins differently.

Posted by: Ikram saeed at July 12, 2003 10:23 PM


"They may make up a majority of the Triangle, and significant portions of Haifa and the Negev, but Arabs have next to no presence in Tel-Aviv and surrounding areas (see Israeli Census documents)."

There are Arabs in Jaffa ( the old town that Tel-Aviv was built around ), as well in the cities of Lod and Ramle, which are pretty close to Tel-Aviv. They are minorities, of course.

Posted by: Melnorme at July 13, 2003 04:32 AM


Hi!

Yes, I doubt that there's going to be a general Arab majority in Israel within the 1967 borders. (If Israel expanded to include major Palestinian population centres, now, this would be different, but this is spectacularly unlikely.)

That said, I can readily imagine a time when Israel could supply migrants to Europe, including but not only Germany. Despite its recent economic growth, Israel is a relatively poor country, only as prosperous as Portugal and Greece, while at the same time Israeli population growth remains quite high. Most importantly, Israelis have a long tradition of population mobility--it's only recently that a bare majority of the Israeli Jewish population was born in Israel, and many Jews of European background retain rights to passports in their ancestor's countries. There's no reason why, in a generation's time, you couldn't have a specifically Israeli diaspora in Europe.

Posted by: Randy McDonald at July 13, 2003 09:24 AM


There already is an Israeli diaspora in LA, I think.

Posted by: Melnorme at July 13, 2003 10:04 AM


So I've heard. Why not one in (say) London, Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, Berlin, Prague, and Warsaw?

Posted by: Randy McDonald at July 13, 2003 11:14 AM


If anti-Muslim immigration can be used as a counterweight to Muslims, then Israel should invite in a million Hindus or Indonesian Chinese.

Posted by: Joseph Hertzlinger at July 13, 2003 11:23 AM


If anti-Muslim immigration can be used as a counterweight to Muslims, then Israel should invite in a million Hindus or Indonesian Chinese.

i have thought of that, and from what i know, a lot of "exotic" guest workers are coming to israel filling the void caused by the second intifada. in some ways, the rejudaizing "falasha" are part of this trend too.... (as well as ethnic russians that fake judaism, but eventually because absorbed into the judeo-russian mileau).

Posted by: razib at July 13, 2003 11:46 AM


Razib: "But now I wonder, Germany has a problem with an aging native population, and a growing hostile Muslim minority, perhaps an influx of Jews could serve as a nice counterweight to the latter. "

Great idea! Import mutually hostile minorities!
That will bring nice developments in the future!
How about Sri Lankans and Tamil Tigers?

Posted by: eufrenio at July 13, 2003 02:08 PM


About that 2.6 fertility rate for Israeli Jews - I would suspect that it's only that high because of the disproportionate fertility of the ultra-orthodox. (Secular Jews, like every other affluent nonreligious group, are on track for extinction in the long term...) While what's left of secular Jewry might leave for greener pastures in the U.S or Europe if the going gets too tough, I doubt the orthodox will leave except at the point of a gun (maybe not even then) Thus, I'd expect the conflict to become more violent (as fanaticism multiplies on both sides) as time goes on...

Posted by: jimbo at July 13, 2003 05:26 PM


Secular Jews, like every other affluent nonreligious group, are on track for extinction in the long term

at least in the united states, secular jews are regularly replenished by defections from orthodoxy. the jewish magazine forward had an article about the process years ago.

Posted by: razib at July 13, 2003 06:57 PM


Just a warning note: 100 years ago the Catholics in Northern Ireland were only 30% of the population. Now they are nearly 50% and still growing. That's why most people expect a united Ireland within the next generation. Then a million Protestants will be packing their bags. It's no use just expecting birth rates to equalise, if a high birth rate is being deliberately used as a political instrument.

Posted by: David B at July 14, 2003 01:41 AM


but i read from john derbyshire that catholic birthrates just dropped below protestant ones!

can't ever predict the future-but my few israeli arab acquaintances (relatives of my friend) speak of the birthrate differential with some relish....

Posted by: razib at July 14, 2003 01:48 AM


"(as well as ethnic russians that fake judaism, but eventually because absorbed into the judeo-russian mileau)."

Yes, this is true. An irrelevant, but interesting, result of absorbing ethnic Russians into the Israeli genepool will be a 'blondening' of the Jewish population in Israel. Russians are, after all, among the blondest people in the world.

Who would have thought that the return of the Jews to the Middle East would result in them becoming even more European in phenotype? ;)

Posted by: Melnorme at July 14, 2003 04:11 AM


I was going to comment on this, but Ikram got there first with most of what I had to say. For the record, my views on the future of Israeli demographics owe a great deal to this study, which predicts that Orthodox Jews and Arabs will each be ~30 percent of the Israeli population in 2050. It's based on an extrapolation of current census figures and demographic trends that seems fairly sound, particularly in light of other indications that Arab and Jewish living standards are converging.

Posted by: Jonathan Edelstein at July 14, 2003 07:32 PM


but i read from john derbyshire that catholic birthrates just dropped below protestant ones!

According to this INED document (French only, sorry), in 2001 Catholic fertility rates were 2.05 children per woman versus 1.61 per woman for Protestants. At the rate at which fertility rates are declining, parity will only be obtained in the 2040s.

Posted by: Randy McDonald at July 15, 2003 05:54 AM


About the idiocy of Israel being unsafe for Jews, the last 100 years have demonstrated that this is the safest place for us - and yes, infinitely safer than Germany...! I am sure we shall be able to continue defending ourselves for at least the 3 0r 4 generatoins.

Posted by: Jaim at October 1, 2003 12:32 PM