"The needy population in Israel is larger than the population that supports it and we must change this situation before it becomes the majority," economist Dan Ben David of Tel Aviv University said at an economic conference on Sunday.
Ben David made no attempt to hide the fact that he was referring mainly to the Arab and ultra-Orthodox populations in Israel. According to the economist, "We must legislate laws now to lighten the burden on the population that works and serves in the army, because later it will be too late to legislate them."
In his lecture, Ben David presented data illustrating how Israel has deteriorated in the past four decades compared to other Western countries in terms of productivity, educational achievements, employment, rates of participation in the workforce, and the brain drain.
According to Ben David: "We are the anomaly of the Western world. No other country comes up with as many patents or as many technological achievements and developments on the one hand, and on the other hand, there is not country in the West with such a low number of workers and such high poverty rates."
The economist continued to say, "We flaunt the fact that our unemployment rates are low, but when you count how many people aren't even looking for work, we surpass Western countries by far. We flaunt the fact that the standard of living among the weaker layers is rising, but the measure of poverty is relative, indicating the gaps here are the highest.
"We argue over the rate of support that should be given to the poor, and this is an important argument, but the root of the problem is the huge gaps in gross (salaries) before support is to be given."
Ben David said these trends all deepened in the past 40 years, due to a demographic growth in the weaker populations: Arabs, haredim, and some of the "normal" population that suffers from similar problems.
Another piece of information presented by Ben David was the rates of Arabs and haredim in the Israeli education system. In 1960, this number stood at 15%, but today, 48% of the population of students in Israel are Arabs and haredim. Ben David predicts that by 2013, these sectors will become the majority.
When asked by Ynet what legislation would be effective in changing the situation and bringing Israel closer to the West in terms of employment rates, Ben David said, "We must ensure professional training, so that people learn things relevant to the today's world of labor.
"We must fight the discrimination of various sectors in the society, and create incentives based on a proper perception of reality. For example, if people are sent to work for minimum wage, we should consider who would watch their children, because it is obvious a private nanny won't do it, and we must force the haredi sector to teach the core subjects in their schools and higher education institutes."
To this end, Ben David says, a complete change to the government system is needed. He says a presidential regime is needed, similar to that of the United States or France, in which the ruler is elected for a set period and does not rely on a coalition to survive.
When asked why not just wait until the Arabs and ultra-Orthodox become a majority so that they are forced to work to finance themselves, Ben David said, "This is a population that has trouble integrating in the global economic market.
"A country with such a majority population will fall; just as such countries have fallen around the world, even if they are democratic and organized.
"Look how Argentina and Turkey fall time after time, with all their good intentions. We cannot afford to fall, because we only fall once every 2000 years."