Photo: Carmit Hasin
Yaron London
Photo: Carmit Hasin

The ultra-Orthodox bomb

Op-ed: In light of demographic trends, Israel en route to becoming Iran-style state

Former Mossad Chief Efraim Halevy knows a thing or two about the dangers lurking for Israel. In a recent lecture he claimed that the danger of ultra-Orthodox radicalization is greater than the Iranian threat.


Halevy’s words prompted protests, of course. Members of Shas and United Torah Judaism accused him of resorting to grave incitement. They are certain, or pretend to be certain, that the ultra-Orthodox improve the status of Jews before God, and that the more people study Torah, the greater the people of Israel’s security would be.


We should note time and again that the overwhelming majority of Orthodox rabbis in the Diaspora objected to Zionism because they believed the Jews should remain in the Diaspora until God shall salvage them. After the Holocaust, they claimed that it constituted a punishment for shunning our Torah.


Haredi leaders in Israel did not change this basic view, even if they do not voice it much: The salvation of the Jews is at the hands of God in the heavens and does not depend on the skill of our pilots in the skies.


This perception is increasingly being integrated into the views of the faithful belonging to religious Zionism. They believe that the more strictly they adhere to religious rules, the sooner the Messiah will come. The rabbis of the messianic camp encourage their students to serve in the army and turn it into God’s army. The resistance to female singing is one of many manifestations of messianic tendencies in the military.


Imminent danger

I know little about the nuclear weapons in Iran’s possessions, the missiles available to it, its willingness to strike us and the means of defense and assault at our disposal. Yet I do know enough to assess the damages of ultra-Orthodox radicalization – it constitutes a substantive and imminent danger. Demography is rushing forward at a speed similar to that of the Iranian race to the bomb.


Soon, the Central Bureau of Statistics shall publish its figures, including a demographic forecast of sectarian distribution. I elicited some of the relevant figures (they are rounded to make them easier to digest.) They refer to people until the age of 19.


In 2034, according to the conservative forecast, there will be 1.4 million “Jews who are not haredim” in this age group. The ultra-Orthodox shall number roughly one million and the Arabs some 750,000.


According to a moderate forecast, the ratio between “Jews and others” and haredim and Arabs would be 1.7 million compared to 2 million. Based on the extreme scenario, the ratio will be 2.2 million “Jews and others” compared to 2.5 million haredim and Arabs.


In light of these figures, only a fool would avoid the reasonable assumption that in the next generation the Zionist share of the population would be a minority. If the haredi community’s spirit and lifestyle don’t change, it would be doubtful whether Israel would be a political entity that is different than surrounding states: A theocratic county, poor in economic and spiritual terms, incredibly crowded and very similar to the frightening Iran.


Should the Iranians show patience, they would be able to spare themselves the effort inherent in developing a nuclear bomb.




פרסום ראשון: 11.08.11, 11:02
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