September 2, 2005


If Sharon leaves Likud behind (Uri Dromi, SEPTEMBER 2, 2005, International Herald Tribune)

The quick and relatively smooth execution of Ariel Sharon's plan to evacuate Jewish settlements from the Gaza Strip and the northern West Bank has won him praise from all around the world. Yet back home he is fighting for his political survival as the leader of his Likud Party and consequently as prime minister of Israel.

Sharon is being challenged by former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who quit the government and now heads the opposition to Sharon in the Likud Party. But opinion polls show that among the public at large he enjoys across-the-board support: Two out of three Israelis, regardless of their political affiliation, feel that he is leading the country in the right direction. If Sharon is defeated in the primaries by Netanyahu, I wouldn't be surprised if he leaves Likud and forms a new centrist party together with other factions and groups.

The political arena in Israel, which has long ceased to reflect the true aspirations and interests of the Israelis, is ready for such a reshuffle. Let Netanyahu stay with the old Likud and cling to the past. A new centrist party should look with hope to a future where Israel - smaller in size but stronger in spirit - will dwell peacefully next to a viable Palestinian state.

The problem is that it's Netanyahu who understands the Israeli need to emulate Anglo-American economics and Third Way government programs, but Sharon who understands the geopolitics. Only a party that combines both can save Israel, at least temporarily, and there aren't enough on the Left who would permit Sharon to follow Netanyahu's domestic lead.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 2, 2005 6:02 AM

Orrin: Do you think Israel is doomed?

Posted by: Pepys at September 2, 2005 1:52 PM

Demographically, Judaism is doomed.

Posted by: oj at September 2, 2005 2:04 PM

So said the Babylonians, Greeks, Romans, Crusaders, Germans, Palestinians - and yet. . .

Posted by: obc at September 2, 2005 2:22 PM

No, they thought they could kill it off. It'll be suicide, not murder.

Posted by: oj at September 2, 2005 3:49 PM

I wasn't referring to murder. "G-d has abandoned them" was often heard. "They will soon just disappear like the Canaanites and Philistines (no relation to Palestinians, btw).

And yet they still survive. The religious have from 5 to 12 per family. They will become the majority within 2 generations, and after that the irreligious will either fade away or emigrate to the West.

Posted by: obc at September 2, 2005 4:39 PM

None of those people thought they'd just disappear which is why they tried to exterminate them, except the Palestinians who recognize they'll win the demographic struggle.

Posted by: oj at September 2, 2005 4:44 PM

Orrin: "Demographically, Judaism is doomed."

Is that for the same reason as Europe, South Korea etc.?

Posted by: Pepys at September 2, 2005 6:46 PM

Yes. Israel has gotten a temporary reprieve thanks to the fall of the Soviet Union and the immigration that unleashed and by getting rid of a bunch of Arab dominated territories. But eventually, even with the current birth rates of the Orthodox, it seems likely to be a Jewish minority state. Meanwhile, Jews are intermarrying so rapidly in the U.S.--the other main locus of Judaism--and reproducing at so low a level that they won't last long here.

Posted by: oj at September 2, 2005 6:59 PM

Is the root cause of their failure to reproduce the same as the rest of the world?

Posted by: Pepys at September 2, 2005 7:23 PM

By the "rest of the world" I meant those countries that are reproducing at a below replacement rate.

Posted by: Pepys at September 2, 2005 7:24 PM


Yes, Orthodox Jews reproduce at an excellent rate. Secular Jews don't even reproduce at replacement.

Posted by: oj at September 2, 2005 9:36 PM

I don't mean to be thick, but is religiosity a sufficient or necessary condition for replacement rate reproduction.

Thanks for the replies so far.

Posted by: Pepys at September 2, 2005 10:55 PM

It certainly seems that only the religious will reproduce at replacement rate once you have a developed society. It's possible to come up with a number of reasons why this might be so, but you'd have to think the fundamental one is that the religious will tend to be less self-directed and more outer-directed.

Posted by: oj at September 2, 2005 11:25 PM

Thanks. Will any religion or sect thereof do? I suspect that Episcopalians and Methodists are not reproducing at the replacement rate.

Posted by: pepys at September 2, 2005 11:30 PM

Plus Orhodox Jews do not use birth control for males or females, including a rubber. And they are forbidden to engage in sex during the menstrual cycle and a bit beyond. Thus, many childrfen result.

Posted by: obc at September 3, 2005 12:54 AM


Yes, the less orthodox and more secularized the sect the less useful their faith.

Posted by: oj at September 3, 2005 7:54 AM