As Israel enters its 61st year, Israelis may look back with pride. Yet, the realists among them must also look forward with foreboding.
Israel is a modern democracy with the highest standard of living in the Middle East. In the high-tech industries of the future, she is in the first rank. From a nation of fewer than a million in 1948, Israel's population has grown to 7 million. In seven wars -- the 1948 War of Independence, the Sinai invasion of 1956, the Six-Day War of 1967, the Yom Kippur War of 1973, and the Lebanon wars of 1982 and 2006 -- Israel has prevailed, though some of these wars were, as Wellington said of Waterloo, "a damn near-run thing."
Israel has revived Hebrew, created a new currency, immersed her children in the history, ancient and modern, of her people, and established a homeland for Jews from all over the world, millions of whom have migrated there to settle. Israel is now home to the largest concentration of Jews anywhere on earth.
Here, however, we come to the heart of the existential crisis.
Israel became home to the largest Jewish population on earth in part because American Jews in the 1990s fell in number from 5.5 million to 5.2 million, a loss of 300,000, or 6 percent of the U.S. Jewish population.
According to Charles Krauthammer, by 2050, the U.S. Jewish population will have shrunk another 50 percent to 2.5 million. American Jews are slowly vanishing. How and why is this happening?
It is the collective decision of American Jews themselves, who have led the battles for birth control and a woman's right to choose.
As Jews were roughly 2 percent of the U.S. population from Roe v. Wade to today, perhaps 2 percent of the 50 million legal abortions since Roe were likely performed on Jewish girls or women, resulting in 1 million lost members of the Jewish community in 35 years.
And if demography is destiny, Israel's future, too, appears grim.
As former Ambassador Zalman Shoval writes, Israel's population of 7 million is 80 percent Jewish. But the Palestinian population of Israel has risen to 20 percent and is growing much faster.
One Israel blogger, using Shoval's totals, writes that among the Israeli population between 1 and 4 years old, roughly 30 percent is Arab. The future of Israel is thus increasingly Arab and less Jewish.
According to the United Nations, by 2050, Israel will have 10 million people.
By then, the Arab population, at present birth rates, is likely to be close to 30 percent of the Israeli population. On the West Bank and Gaza, today's 4 million Arabs are to explode to 10 million, far outstripping the growth in Israel. Jordan's population of 5 million, 60 percent Palestinian, will also double to 10 million.
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