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January 3, 2016

A Jewish Majority in the Land of Israel

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By Yakov Faitelson

Growth trends and population forecasts have played a significant role in the political landscape of the Middle East, especially over the thorny question of Israel and the disputed territories. The notion that the Jewish majority of Israel is in danger of being swamped by Arab fertility has repeatedly been used as a political and psychological weapon to extract territorial concessions from the Israeli government. In September 2010, U.S. president Barack Obama referred to the so-called “hard realities of demography” that threaten the survival of the Jewish state.

Such a conclusion is wrong. Analysis of long-term demographic developments leads to quite the opposite conclusion: In the long run, a strong Jewish majority, not only in the state of Israel—as this author projected almost twenty-five years ago and the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics recently reaffirmed—but also in the Land of Israel is quite possible.

Population growth for the Land of Israel at the end of the second decade of the twenty-first century will be influenced by the Arab and Jewish natural increase rates reaching a convergence point based on similar live birth and mortality rates. It will also likely be influenced by continued Jewish immigration, including a new, possibly strong wave in the near future following the prolonged world economic crisis and manifestations of rising anti-Semitism around the globe. Repatriation will also be encouraged if the Israeli economy continues to be strong in the near future, an increased likelihood based in part on the huge gas and shale oil fields recently discovered in Israel. The share of Jews in the total population of the Land of Israel may also increase as a result of continued Arab emigration that may include Israeli Arabs as well. According to the results of the first-ever survey on political-social attitudes of Arab youth in Israel, conducted by the Baladna Association for Arab Youth and the Mada al-Carmel Arab Center for Applied Social Research, both in Haifa, 25 percent of the Arab youth in Israel want to emigrate.

Every country has a natural and objective carrying capacity limit for the population living on its territory and, in this respect, Israel is no different than any other. With that in mind, demographic projections can and should be used as a tool for planning by the state as well as by municipalities to avoid mistakes that can damage vital infrastructure and public services, such as health, education, and welfare systems. Ignoring the impressive demographic changes of the last twenty years in Israel has produced heavy burdens on Israel’s health system due to a lack of hospital beds and a scarcity of medical personnel. Overpopulated classrooms and a lack of qualified teachers is another such consequence.  Similarly, lower than necessary construction starts in the residential sector is causing pain for young couples.

Developing proper demographic policies can be important tools for planning national security needs to assure internal order and the security of the state’s borders. Jerusalem must bear in mind that without developing such a professional, comprehensive, and long-term demographic policy, it will be very difficult to reach the vital goals of assuring a stable and secure future for generations to come.

For the full research (in Hebrew)

The demography of Jerusalem

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In the research, Ya’akov Faitelson, using statistical and comparative data, presents the demography of greater Jerusalem and its anticipated patterns of growth in the coming years.

One of the findings charts the rapid growth trend in the Jewish sector, relative to other sectors. An unexpected finding, is the fact that, in contrast to the center of the city, there is no migration of Jews from greater Jerusalem. The purpose of the research is to create a foundation for the formulation of a demographic policy appropriate to each of the regions in the country, starting wit the Capitol. Faitelson offers innovative suggestions and recommendations for a plan of action.

For the full document (hebrew)

Strategy of Unilateral Withdrawal

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Test Case of The Disengagement Program

Adi Arbel and Inbal Liber

2005: The Disengagement Plan was initiated as one of the most dramatic moves in history of the Israeli government: unilateral evacuation of nearly 9,000 Israeli residents from Gush Katif and northern Samaria coupled with the withdrawal of security forces out of the Gaza Strip.

2015: Ten years following the disengagement from Gaza and northern Samaria, it is evident that the political reality facing Palestinians has hardly changed – the levels of trust between the two governments is tenuous at best, and the security situation is unstable and a political settlement between them can be described as implausible and remote under the current status quo.

The objective of this document is to analyze the strategic implications from the test results of the unilateral withdrawals, employing the disengagement plan as a case study. What were the goals for carrying out the disengagement plan? Does the program achieve its objectives? In light of the political challenges it faces, can unilateral withdrawals be implemented for the betterment of the State of Israel?

At first, 12 goals were posited to justify  a plan of unilateral withdrawal: Breaking the political deadlock, the neutralization of alternative policy initiatives, separation from the Palestinians, keeping the settlement blocs, the need to protect the residents, the difficulty of low intensity conflict, dealing with instances of insubordination, international demand for political progress, causing international pressure to be directed against the Palestinians rather than against Israel, ending Israeli rule over another people, countering the posited demographic problem, and satisfying the public pressure to leave Gaza.

The second part of the position paper examines the degree of success to which the disengagement plan attains its intended results. The results reveal an almost total failure to achieveany of the stated goals: the political stalemate continues, the alternative policy initiatives promoted before the program have not been neutralized, the separation from the Palestinians has not even been partially achieved, the already negative political status of the settlement blocs has only worsened, and the people of Israel have been exposed to greater threats from the Gaza Strip.

Moreover, Israel has experienced rounds of low intensity intensive combat, instances of insubordination did not stop but in fact spread to additional groups in Israeli society, and the international demand for political progress only intensified. The Gaza Strip, still a demographic time bomb on Israel’s front doorstep and has not been subjected to the same degree of international pressure directed at Israel The Disengagement plan has caused increased international pressures on Israel, it has also weakened Israeli society from within.

Ten years after the Disengagement Plan, there is a broad consensus in Israel that the disengagement  has been a complete and abject failure. This failure was due to geopolitical factors which have not changed so that any future unilateral withdrawal will likewise fail to achieve the stated goals.

To The Full Position Paper (In Hebrew)

Incentives for Service

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By Dr. Yoaz Hendel and Nicolas Touboul

For several years discussions have been held about different propositions for government resolutions and legislation to improve the benefits granted to citizens who have served in the army or the civilian national service. These proposals include exemption from taxes, preferences for acceptance to student dorms in institutes for higher education, and preferences or benefits relating to allocation of land for housing. In their essence, the proposals entail the basic proposition that it is proper and just-and non-discriminatory- to provide public benefits in return for past contributions to the society and State. The benefits would provide preference in hiring, in wages, and in various state services offered.


On the one hand, the supporters of these propositions feel that the current situation discriminates against those who have dedicated years of their lives to the State. The current level of remuneration shows disregard and demeans the service. It is also manifestly unfair and discriminatory to fail to compensate those who were mandated to serve while others were not. Critics of the proposals claim that rewarding army service and national service discriminates against the Arab and Chareidi populations who are exempt from service. Compensation for service should be made during service and not afterwards, they argue.

This comparative analysis establishes that post-service benefits are common in the Western world. Most of the democratic countries which were examined maintain some system of benefits for those who protect the country within an army framework. In terms of the types of benefits, differences could be found in the determination of who benefits (soldiers, veterans, their families) and in the form of benefit (employment, education, and various other benefits).

In the United States, enlistment was compulsory until 1973, and benefits have been instituted since 1944: preferential mortgages, unemployment benefits, educational subsidies and small business loans are some of the benefits extended to veterans. Approximately 10 million veterans have enjoyed the GI benefits, and in the Cold War era a third of the US population has enjoyed the benefits. It was found that the GI benefits helped many Afro-Americans improve their economic and social status. Similarly, in November 2009, President Obama signed a bill to promote public sector employment of veterans. Two years after the bill took effect, 28% of new public sector employees were veterans (although they comprise less than 10% of the general adult population).

In Canada, where the enlistment is not compulsory but seeks to reflect all parts of society, incentives for preference in the private sector are given to veterans. Veterans are also granted scholarships and insurance benefits. In Switzerland, where army service is compulsory, an extra 3% is levied in income taxes from those who don’t serve. In France, where service was compulsory until 2001, combat veterans receive a special pension and are preferentially given rooms in old age homes. The English Labor Party is initiating a scheme of mortgages for army veterans and priority for an interview with a private employer. In India jobs in government offices, public corporations, and public banks are reserved for veterans. In South Africa veterans are given rights when receiving medical treatment, and in college and vocational aid, as well as in discounts on public transportation. And in Australia they are given an automatic mortgage entitlement.

Proposals to reward IDF and national service with post-benefits conform to accepted standards in democratic governments throughout the world.


For the full comparative analysis (in Hebrew)

New Middle East

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Yakov Faitelson

The inter-denominational and inter-religious conflicts in the Middle East which we are currently witnessing are based on objective factors. This lesson was already understood by U.S. President Woodrow Wilson in 1920 when he proposed slicing up the Ottoman Empire in accordance with the real religious-ethnic segmentation of the local population. Seventy years later the same suggestion was made by Bernard Lewis, and Colonel Ralph Peters of the U.S. Army General Staff, each of them in his own time.

Having consideration for the successful example of the peace agreement between Turkey and Greek that has proven itself over the last 100 years, it may be assumed with a high degree of probability that had the proposals of President Wilson been adopted in his time it would have been possible to prevent most of the current blood disputes.
Taking into account both the external and internal power equilibriums currently functioning in the Middle East, it may be asserted with considerable certainty that the disintegration of the existing states mentioned in this article and the emergence of a new equilibrium of power will be a protracted process.   To a certain extent it may be said the Middle East is once again in the throes of  the historical process that occurred in Europe following the Napoleonic Wars,  but this time at an accelerated pace.
The events in the Middle East may be the harbinger of similar processes that are liable to repeat themselves in all of thee places in which the borders of new states were not created naturally but were rather the product of caprices of various external forces.
In a recent interview retired U.S. Air Force General Michael Hayden said that in principle he totally concurs with the forecast of Leon Panetta, former American Minister of Defense in President Obama’s Administration, that the battle against the Islamic State (ISIS) will resemble the Thirty Years War that ravaged Europe between 1618 – 1648. According to General Hayden, the establishment of a new equilibrium of power in the Middle East will take a full generation and more.
The Sykes-Picot agreement that determined the international borders following the First World War is now dead and buried and an entire era has ended. In an interview with the News Department of YnetNews, former Chief of Staff, Lieutenant Benny Gantz stated  that “Someone else is determining the borders in our expanse, and that someone doesn’t recognize any of the political institutions.”
In view of this, any talk about the resolution of the Arab-Israel conflict b way of territorial concessions by the Jewish state being the key to solving the problems of the Middle East is  absolutely disconnected from  reality. Concessions of this kind not only endanger Israel’s protective capacity but also threaten its very existence.
Israel should cautiously monitor and be on the alert with respect to the changes in the relations between the different forces that are reshaping the Middle East, and it should support those forces that can contribute to the creation of conditions that will ensure its security and prosperity in the generations to come.

To the Full Summary (In Hebrew)

Force-Feeding of Hunger-Striking Prisoners

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Yael Baklor-Kahn and Adi Arbel

The proposed law to allow force-feeding of hunger-striking prisoners was recently approved by the Knesset. Discussion of the topic led to public debate for and against the proposed law. The purpose of this paper is to present the topic in an organized fashion, to analyze the dilemmas it raises, and to present a considered opinion about the proposed law.

The issue of force-feeding hunger strikers is not a new one and represents an area of public disagreement in Israel and abroad. Until this new law, Israel’s legal position towards the issue was laid out in the law detailing the rights of the ill, a law which set conditions and standards for providing care to a person against his will.

The issue has also not yet been settled in international law. The World Medical Association stated in the Tokyo Declaration that a physician may not make his professional skills available for the purposes of interrogation; the Malta Declaration stated that forced feeding of prisoners is not ethical. On the other hand, in 2005 the European Court of Human Rights ruled that one may force-feed a prisoner who is in mortal danger.

As part of this opinion paper we will present the legal and moral justification for the new Israeli law which allows forced feeding of security prisoners when their life is in danger. The justification for this law rests on a number of presuppositions:

  1. All hunger strikes represent means of protest and not suicide attempts.
  2. The State of Israel must concern itself with the health and safety of prisoners.
  3. A prisoner’s hunger strike is a means of protest intended as a challenge to the sovereignty of the State. Sometimes the goal of the hunger strikers is to obtain release from prison or a change in prison conditions. Therefore a prisoner’s hunger strike should be seen as a tool meant to prevent the State from enforcing its laws.
  4. The hunger strike of a prisoner who wishes to die is a suicidal act which contradicts the sanctity of life and acts as a means of escaping justice. Therefore it is right to prevent the act, just as additional steps are taken to avoid other suicide attempts in prison cells.

In keeping with these presuppositions, it can be seen that hunger strikes by security prisoners are a means of political protest in the Jewish-Arab conflict. A hunger strike is a weapon of propaganda in which prisoners try to exploit the freedom of expression granted by the State they act against. Moreover, a death resulting from a security prisoner’s hunger strike could have serious security implications and could lead to violence which would cost many lives, both Israeli and Palestinian.

Despite what has been said above, the law includes clear guidelines which would limit the use of forcible feeding tools: forced feeding will only occur at the last stages of a hunger strike, only when there is clear and immediate danger to the life of the prisoner, and only with the agreement of the treating physician. It was also stated that the legal permission force feeding must be issued by the president of the district court or his deputy.

Therefore it can be said that the new law is in accord with the principle of the sanctity of life and allows the State of Israel to safeguard its sovereignty and protect its citizens while upholding the values it holds as a Jewish and democratic state.

To the full paper (Hebrew)

Demographic Trends in the Land of Israel (1800-2007)

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he demographic “population bomb” has been perceived for decades as a looming threat to Jewish democracy in Israel. Lately it has been repeatedly cited as a justification for far-reaching territorial concessions. However, many recent studies seem to cast doubt on this threat. The Jewish majority in Israel has been fairly stable for decades, and the gap in birthrates has greatly narrowed.

A new study by Yaakov Faitelson brings a unique historical perspective to this issue. Looking at the past, we see that Jews in the land of Israel have been concerned about demographics since the 19th century, yet the Jewish population and majority has been steadily increasing for generations. Looking at the future, we see that careful demographic projections suggest that the Jewish majority in the land of Israel will likely be fairly stable for another generation. This doesn’t mean that the demographic make-up of the local population is not a valid concern, but it does suggest that there is no justification for panic.

To The Full Research Article (In Hebrew)

Demographic Trends in the Educational System

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In his new study, Yaakov Faitelson uncovers demographic trends among the various populations in the State of Israel, and their influence on the educational system. The study shows that the rate of growth of the wider Jewish population is considerably higher than the Central Bureau of Statistics’ forecast, while the various minority populations grew in line with the lower end of CBS’s forecast range. These trends significantly influence the nature of Israel’s educational system.

According to the study’s conclusions, the data indicates continuous rapid growth in the Jewish first grade student body in the coming years, the stability or slight decrease in first grade students in Arab education, and a decrease in the percentage of Ultra-Orthodox students out of all Jewish students.

To The Full Research Article (In Hebrew)

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