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Thursday, January 13, 2005

Critics slam report debunking demographic threat

By Yair Ettinger (Ha'aretz)

An extra-academic document that debunks one of the foundations of the disengagement plan, 'the demographic bomb,' will be presented in Washington today to a prestigious academic institution with substantial influence on the Bush administration. The document, which Haaretz has obtained, (since I obtained it too at their website, I guess I'm a journalist just like Ha'aretz! -EoZ) argues that 2.4 million Palestinians live in the West Bank and Gaza Strip today, and not the 3.8 million claimed by the Palestinian Authority.
In sharp contrast to population studies conducted in Israel by professors Arnon Sofer and Sergio della Pergola, the document argues that Jews continue to maintain a solid 60 percent majority between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.

An Israeli-American group whose members are clearly identified with the right authored the ABC Demographic Project. The group undercuts a prevailing assumption in Israel's public debate - that Jews have ceased, or will soon cease to be, a majority in that territory. The demographic danger is not 'all it's made out to be,' the writers state.

Della Pergola called the document 'groundless,' politically slanted and baseless from a research perspective. None of the signatories to the document is a professional in demographic research. Among its authors are former Israeli consul in Texas Yoram Ettinger (no relation to this reporter), former West Bank Civil Administration head Brigadier General (res.) David Shahaf and former Israeli health official Professor Ezra Zohar.

The research was initiated and funded by Los Angeles Jewish businessman Ben Zimmerman and U.S.-based partners, historian Dr. Roberta Seid of the University of South Carolina and businessman Michael Wise.

A great deal of the interest in the document stems from the seal of approval it received from U.S. demographers which paved the way for the invitation to its authors to present their findings to influential conservative think tank American Enterprise Institute in Washington.

Later this week, the document will be presented in New York to the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations.

I have no idea of the scientific methods used in the document, but I strongly suspect that there is a lot of truth in it. - EoZ