It was a big story the other day when demographers reading the census data reported that today in the U.S., births of ethnic and racial minorities have surpassed white American births.
I think the trend has clear implications for US support for Israel, whose advocates routinely speak about a demographic "threat" -- too many non-Jewish births.
But first, some of the U.S. analysis. The Times of London:
The minority dominance of the youngest generation has broad implications for America's sense of self and the social contract binding the generations together.
"This is an important landmark," said Roderick Harrison, a former chief of racial statistics at the Census Bureau who is now a sociologist at Howard University. "This generation is growing up much more accustomed to diversity than its elders."
New York Times:
“This is an important tipping point,” said William H. Frey, the senior demographer at the Brookings Institution, describing the shift as a “transformation from a mostly white baby boomer culture to the more globalized multiethnic country that we are becoming.” Signs that the country is evolving this way start with the Oval Office, and have swept hundreds of counties in recent years, with 348 in which whites are no longer in the majority..
And the fact that the country is getting a burst of births from nonwhites is a huge advantage, argues Dowell Myers, professor of policy, planning and demography at the University of Southern California. European societies with low levels of immigration now have young populations that are too small to support larger aging ones, exacerbating problems with the economy.
“If the U.S. depended on white births alone, we’d be dead,” Mr. Myers said. “Without the contributions from all these other groups, we would become too top-heavy with old people.”
Diversity and appreciation of minorities are two trends that are bound to undermine America's special relationship with Israel, a relationship that itself is based on a sociological trend: the great Jewish inclusion in the establishment.
These new trends will expose Israel's obsession with demographics as out of date and out of step with U.S. attitudes. President Obama honors Israel's demographic concerns (as Rob't Wexler notes). But at how many more speeches to AIPAC will he be able to talk about "the demographic realities" (2011) and "shifting demographics" (2012) without coming off as a racist?
The other day at Bnai Jeshurun synagogue on the Upper West Side, Jeremy Ben-Ami of J Street said the day is fast approaching when the world will look on the Israel/Palestine question very simply as an issue of granting a darker-skinned majority the vote. Ben-Ami wants to do everything he can to put that day off. But to his credit, he recognizes the inevitability of such a discussion. And he knows very well where diverse Americans will stand on that question.