michael freund 88.
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If you ever wanted to see Paris or Rome before you die, but haven't had a chance to do so, you might want to hurry. Soon enough, most of what we now think of as Western Europe will be transformed into a branch of the Muslim world, which is sure to make it an even less welcoming place for Americans, Israelis and for Jews.
That, at least, is the unpleasant, yet entirely unavoidable conclusion to be drawn from Europe's headlong demographic drive toward oblivion.
Think I'm exaggerating? Consider a few cold hard facts.
According to a recent report by the Rand Corporation, "Across Europe, birth rates are falling and family sizes are shrinking. The total fertility rate is now less than two children per woman in every member nation in the European Union."
Needless to say, demographers consider a birthrate of 2.1 children per family to be the replacement level at which a society's population size remains stable. Barring large-scale immigration, anything less means decline and dissolution.
A research study published last year in the International Journal of Andrology found a similar trend, concluding that, "Fertility rates have fallen and are now below replacement level in all European Union (EU) Member States. In the 20-year period since 1982," it noted, "most EU Member State countries have had total fertility rates continuously below replacement level."
At the bottom of the list are Spain, Italy and Greece, where birthrates hover around just 1.3 per couple, leading some forecasters to suggest, for example, that Italy's population could shrink by one-third by the middle of the century.
Others, such as Germany's 1.37, the UK's 1.74 and Sweden's 1.75, aren't all much better.
The figures are so bad that in many European countries, the total number of deaths each year has actually begun to exceed the number of births.
Indeed, the Council of Europe's 2004 Demographic Yearbook warned that, "for Europe as a whole, more people died in 2003 than were born." In 1990, said the yearbook, "three countries - Germany, Bulgaria and Hungary - had negative natural growth for the first time. By 2002, it was negative in fifteen countries."
LAST YEAR, after the publication of statistics revealing that 30 percent of German women have not had children, Germany's family minister, Ursula von der Leyen, caused a stir when she said that if her nation's birth rate did not turn around, the country would have to "turn out the light." And while Europeans may be busy everywhere but in the bedroom, the Muslim populations in their midst are proving far more expansive.
As columnist Mark Steyn points out in his must-read new book, America Alone, "What's the Muslim population of Rotterdam? Forty percent. What's the most popular baby boy's name in Belgium? Mohammed. In Amsterdam? Mohammed. In Malmo, Sweden? Mohammed."
Last month, the UK Daily Telegraph reported that, "Mohammed, and its most common alternative spelling Muhammad, are now more popular babies' names in England and Wales than George."
This, said the paper, using typically British understatement, "reflects the diverse ethnic mix of the population."
But that "mix," so to speak, is rapidly changing - and not in traditional Europe's favor.
ISLAM, BY all accounts, is the fastest growing religion in Europe, spurred by immigration and high fertility rates. According to projections by the US federal government's National Intelligence Council, the continent's current Muslim population of 20 million will likely double by 2025.
And as Bruce Bawer noted last year in While Europe Slept, "Already, in most of Western Europe, 16 to 20 percent of children are Muslimsâ€¦within a couple of generations many [European] countries will have Muslim majorities."
Not since September 8, 1683, when the Ottomans were threatening to breach the walls of Vienna, has Islam been so perilously close to seizing control over Western Europe.
The implications of all this are far graver than we can even begin to imagine, and it is not just a matter of choosing new and more hospitable tourist destinations.
An increasingly Islamified Europe will prove ever more hostile to Israel and America, and this trend will only intensify as the Muslim population there continues to grow.
Even if European governments succeed in reversing the curve, which seems highly unlikely, it will be decades before it would begin to be felt. In the meantime, however, Muslim political power on the continent will develop and expand, and European leaders will be hard-pressed to ignore their demands.
This makes it far less likely that Israel and the US can count on Europe - if they ever really could - at times of crisis in the decades ahead. Just pick an issue, from the war on terror to Palestinian statehood, and you'll see what I mean.
For however unbalanced Europe's stance has been until now, it will likely only grow worse in the years to come.
Europe as we know it is a thing of the past, and it is time for Israeli and American decision-makers to take this into account as they plan for the future. The face of Europe is changing rapidly, and with it the continent's social and political make-up.
So if you really want to see the Eiffel Tower up close, you had best not delay. Before you know it, it might just turn into a minaret.