The war Israel is losing

PEDRO UGARTE/AFP/Getty Images As Ehud Olmert struggles to contain the fallout from a report that slammed his conduct of last summer’s war with Hezbollah, Israeli authorities are panicking over losing another war: The War of Reproduction. Palestinian population growth in Jerusalem is fast outpacing that of Israelis; so fast, in fact, that within 30 years the ...

601910_070516_baby_05.jpg
601910_070516_baby_05.jpg

PEDRO UGARTE/AFP/Getty Images

As Ehud Olmert struggles to contain the fallout from a report that slammed his conduct of last summer's war with Hezbollah, Israeli authorities are panicking over losing another war: The War of Reproduction. Palestinian population growth in Jerusalem is fast outpacing that of Israelis; so fast, in fact, that within 30 years the city may be home to as many Arabs as it will be to Jews. While the impressive Arab birth rate—at 3-4%, it's more than twice that of Jews—has long haunted leaders of the Jewish state, recent buzz over the issue stems from a Hebrew University study released early this month, just in time for the 40th anniversary of the city's reunification. Since that time, the study found, Jerusalem's Arab population has grown by 257 percent, compared to a 140 percent Jewish growth rate. Mayor Uri Lupolianski nicely sums up Israeli anxiety here:

Jerusalem could, God forbid, end up not under Jewish sovereignty, but rather that of Hamas." Hamas, Lupolianski said, "knows that it is possible to capture Jerusalem through demography within 12 years. We need a plan, and not crumbs, so that Jerusalem will remain Israel's capital forever."

PEDRO UGARTE/AFP/Getty Images

As Ehud Olmert struggles to contain the fallout from a report that slammed his conduct of last summer’s war with Hezbollah, Israeli authorities are panicking over losing another war: The War of Reproduction. Palestinian population growth in Jerusalem is fast outpacing that of Israelis; so fast, in fact, that within 30 years the city may be home to as many Arabs as it will be to Jews. While the impressive Arab birth rate—at 3-4%, it’s more than twice that of Jews—has long haunted leaders of the Jewish state, recent buzz over the issue stems from a Hebrew University study released early this month, just in time for the 40th anniversary of the city’s reunification. Since that time, the study found, Jerusalem’s Arab population has grown by 257 percent, compared to a 140 percent Jewish growth rate. Mayor Uri Lupolianski nicely sums up Israeli anxiety here:

Jerusalem could, God forbid, end up not under Jewish sovereignty, but rather that of Hamas.” Hamas, Lupolianski said, “knows that it is possible to capture Jerusalem through demography within 12 years. We need a plan, and not crumbs, so that Jerusalem will remain Israel’s capital forever.”

Grand schemes to bolster the city’s dwindling Jewish population dominated last weekend’s special Jerusalem-themed cabinet meeting. Not only must pols deal with the disparate birth rates, they’re going to have to address the fact that, due to lousy job prospects and Jerusalem’s high cost of living, Israelis just don’t want to live there: 17,300 Israelis, more than half of whom are between 25 and 30, flee the city annually. The proposed solution? Israel’s going to pump $1.5 billion into social services, build schools, relocate government agencies to within the city, and build 20,000 settler units in East Jerusalem.

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