Forget Iran. Is the fertility rate the real threat to Israel’s existence? -
Israel could be home to 36 million people by 2050, according to some forecasts. Prof. Alon Tal explains why irresponsible government policies have created a ticking time bomb, and why the state has to get out of its citizens’ bedrooms
Netta Ahituv Apr 15, 2017
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During its 68 years of existence, Israel has changed from a sparsely populated country to one of the most densely populated in the Western world. That is how Prof. Alon Tal, chairman of Tel Aviv University’s public policy department, opens his latest book, “The Land is Full: Addressing Overpopulation in Israel” (Yale University Press).
Israel’s population density, he writes, is 1,000 percent higher than the OECD average. Conservative forecasts say that Israel will have 23 million inhabitants by 2050. Less conservative forecasts predict 36 million inhabitants by then. And well before then, in 2030, Israel will have doubled the population it has today.
Reading this book is like reading a dystopian novel. I thought about my children growing up in such a cruel, crowded place and I was afraid.
Tal says he wrote the book because of his three daughters. “I’m a diehard Zionist and I want them to continue living in Israel,” he explains. Even though his book is pessimistic and frightening, Tal, surprisingly, describes himself as an optimist. “I’ll tell you why. Our society has a taboo about not bringing children into the world – everyone feels they have to have children. But we’re a developed country, in which it’s relatively easy to break taboos.
“Over the last 10 years, society’s attitude toward the gay community has changed completely. Society threw out one of the hardest taboos to get rid of and entered a much healthier phase. With regard to childbirth, too, if we tell the truth I think we’ll get there. The very fact that a conversation is happening is important. Ultimately, we’re a pragmatic people.”