(JNS.org) A new report by the Israel Democracy Institute (IDI) predicts nearly half of Israel’s population will be comprised of Arabs and haredi Jews by 2059, which would be a major demographic shift for Israel as well as an economic and political challenge.
According to the report, Israel’s population is expected to rise to nearly 18 million by 2059 from the current 8.7 million, with 14.4 million Jewish and another 3.6 million Arab. As such, haredim and Arabs will account for 49 percent of the population. Today, they account for 32 percent of the population.
The IDI report said the projection should be a “call to action for the government and civil service leaders” to better integrate the haredi and Arab populations into the state.
“It is time to stop treating Arabs and haredim as liabilities who produce a drag on economic performance and start treating them as resources that could vault Israel’s economy into the top 10 of the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development),” said Dr. Gilad Malach, who heads an IDI program focused on haredi integration into Israeli society.
The report offered recommendations on Israel’s policies regarding financial incentives for large families, integrating haredim into the workforce and ensuring haredi communities teach secular subjects in their religious schools.
“The investment in these communities over the last decade has led to positive results. But there is still a long road ahead,” said Malach. “Now, we need to focus on increasing the quality of employment within these sectors. This will better improve Israel’s national productivity rate and move families out of poverty.”