'Israel faces threat of becoming a religious state'

University of Haifa report finds Haredim to pass 1 million by 2030; warns if current demographic trends continue, Israel may cease to exist.

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April 3, 2011 19:43
2 minute read.
Haredim

Haredim 311. (photo credit: buyitinisrael.com)

 
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Israel is on its way to becoming a religious state – a reality that would pose a threat to its survival, according to a report released by the University of Haifa on Sunday.

The report, entitled “Israel 2010-2030, on the Path to a Religious State,” examines the demographic factors set to change Israel in the coming years, through a comparison of the religious, haredi, secular and Arab birthrates in the country.

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The report concludes that by the year 2030, the majority of Israel’s Jewish population will be religious – a reality that could lead to several different results, including an increase in poverty, the annexation of the West Bank settlements and Israel’s deterioration into an anti-democratic country.

The report, which was compiled by Prof. Arnon Soffer, who holds the Reuven Chaikin Chair in Geostrategy at the University of Haifa, also concluded that by 2030, the haredi population will reach more than a million people, which will place an especially high economic burden on the secular population.

“As long as the haredi percentage of the population increases, the economic gaps between the haredi population and the remainder of the population will continue to grow, requiring a greater transfer of funds [from the secular population] to support them.

“Their differential participation in the workforce not only creates a situation of total dependence on the income-earning population, but also inequalities that only continue to grow as well as higher dissatisfaction, bitterness and feelings of suffocation among taxpayers.”

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The report, a continuation of Soffer’s 2008 study “Israel: Demography and Density 2007-2020” also finds that the higher haredi birthrate and their increasing demographic weight will strengthen the voting power within their community and the legislative influence of the haredi parties.

“The public agenda, the public square and the cultural aspects of the country stand to all reflect the spirit of the haredi and religious world,” it stated. “Education will become Torah-based, courts will be operated according to Jewish religious law and much of the media will undergo a transformation in which a large amount of the content it broadcasts will disappear.”

The report states that these changes will lead to greater emigration of secular Israelis from the country, further degrading the quality of life in the country.

Calling for greater government investment and emphasis on teaching democratic values in the Israeli education system, the report warns that if current demographic trends continue, Israel could cease to exist.

“If [Israeli] decision-makers don’t come to their senses, the Zionist vision will come to a tragic end and the people of Israel will again find itself in the Diaspora facing anti-Semitism and assimilation.”

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