Answers to Quora Questions by Yair Davidiy (10 January 2018, 23 Tevet, 5778)
What is the demographic future of Israel and the Jewish religion as a whole given the high fertility of ultra-Orthodox Jews? What would be the long term consequences of this since some of these groups are anti-Israel?
This is a good and interesting question sent by someone (Helena Lin) who in the past has written informed posts about Islam. Most of the previous answers already given to this question are worthwhile.
What do the figures say?
'ISRAEL'S POPULATION TO REACH 20 MILLION BY 2065'
Â BY LIDAR GRAVE-LAZI, MAY 21, 2017 17:07
Â A third of the population is forecast to be ultra-Orthodox.
Â At the end of 2015, 8.5 million people lived in Israel. The population is projected to grow to 10 million by the end of 2024, to 15 million by the end of 2048, and to 20 million by the end of 2065.
Â The population makeup in 2040 is forecast to be similar to that of 2015 - 79% Jews (and others) and 21% Arab.
Â In 2065, the Jewish (and other) population is expected to rise to some 81% of the population while the Arab proportion of the citizenry is projected to decrease to 19%.
Â â€¦ The ultra-Orthodox are forecast to comprise 40% of the Jewish (and other) population in 2065, up from 14% in 2015 and 24% in 2040.
What will happen in the future no-one knows. The predictions based on present statistics might play out or they may not. There are elements in the secular sector who are determined to do whatever it takes to stop the Ultra-Orthodox.Â
Â On the other other hand they have been making such attempts for a good time now and have not succeeded.
Exodus (NASB) 1:
Â 8 Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. 9 He said to his people, â€˜Behold, the people of the sons of Israel are more and mightier than we. 10 Come, let us deal wisely with them, or else they will multiply and in the event of war, they will also join themselves to those who hate us, and fight against us and depart from the land.â€™ 11 So they appointed taskmasters over them to afflict them with hard labor. And they built for Pharaoh storage cities, Pithom and Raamses. 12 But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and the more they spread out, so that they were in dread of the sons of Israel.
In addition to the Ultra-Orthodox (UOs), i.e. â€œHareidim,â€ in Israel one also has the National Religious (NRs). They used to significantly outnumber the UOs. Now they are losing people especially their youth. This is a pity. They do however maintain their relative percentage by drawing in others from the secular segment and by the larger families of those who stay with them. A religious renaissance by the NRs could change everything. The NRs lack of ability to realize their full potential diminishes the beneficial effects of the UO increase. From the point of view of Judaism and the practice of Judaism the UOs and NRs should consider themselves complementary parts of the one whole. They should realize they are on the one side and not opposed to each other.
What will happen once the UOs do increase as expected? Discrimination against the UOs in employment will have to end. More UOs will therefore be employed, more involved. Jewish values will be strengthened throughout Israel society. This may enhance the general intellectual level and strengthen the resolve and initiative of the military. Crime and social problems will diminish. This may result in less bureaucracy, less corruption and fewer impediments to local initiative. Numerous other benefits may well come about. The UOs have already proven what they can do in those areas they have had some influence over.
Nevertheless, there are non-Zionist streams within the UO population. Will they have an adverse effect? This was the intention of the Query we are now answering. No-one can tell but the following remarks are pertinent. Actions and policies emanate from attitudes. Different UO approaches to the State of Israel may be divided roughly along the following lines:
Â They are the ones who say Zionism is evil. The most vehement Hareidi opponents of Zionism are to be found outside of Israel. In Israel groups such as Neturei Karta, etc, number no more than a few hundred or less. They receive a lot of publicity since the Media, the secular left, and the enemies of Israel often sympathize with them.
2. Mainstream Ultra Orthodoxy.Â
Â These historically held that Political Secular Zionism was a Mistake. They comprise the majority of UOs but they are practical. They were never against Jewish settlement in Israel per se. There are positive commandments for Jews to live in Israel and NOT to let foreigners rule over them when the choice is given. This section in future could go either way but may well in effect be more nationalistic even than the present secular ruling right-wingers are. In the past the Secular elements took measures against Religious Jews. This caused the UOs to distance themselves more than they otherwise would have done. An example of this is to be found in the numbers of Hareidi youth inducted into the IDF. Up until 2013 more and more of the UO youth were enlisting in the IDF. Special programs, that were relatively successful, existed for them. Then in 2013 attempts were made to publicly denigrate those OUs who did not serve and to force as many as possible of OU youth to join the army. This was seen by the UOs as an attempt to secularize their young men. There was some truth in this. As a reaction co-operation between the UOs and the IDF was lessened drastically. Consequently the numbers of UOs being conscripted fell to present levels. It may be expected that when and if the demographic weight of the UOs increases they will become more assertive and less vulnerable to secular machinations.
3. Land of Israel UOs.
Â These are Hareidis whose ideology is similar to that of the NRs. This is a large group but not a vocal one. They are different from the NRs since as well as being nationalistic, the NRs are also modernistic, compromising, etc. The NRs keep a way of life that is more lax than that of the UOs. Many among the UOs who may otherwise agree with the NRs on matters concerning settlements ,etc, disagree with them fundamentally on other issues.
The overwhelming majority of the UOs belong to groups 2 and 3.
In conclusion, from the point of view of Jewish nationalism an increase in the relative proportion of UOs in the population should be beneficial for all. Even so, we need to wait and see and do what good we can in the meantime.