New Years Eve; Doves in Bethlehem and some Israeli facts and figures

Jules Crittenden reports on the doves that didn’t want to fly on New Years Eve in Bethlehem before swinging to dusk at Meggido, and then a somewhat morose look back at the last decade. 

As Crittenden writes “About 20,000 Palestinians and a handful of tourists were working their way into Manger Square. We went up on the roof of the municipal building, opposite the Church of the Nativity and the big lit-up concert stage in front of it, for a great view of events unfolding. Moments before the clock hit 2000, according to plan, the Palestinian Authority cops in blue camouflage began opening crates to release 2,000 doves, as a symbol of peace. But doves sleep at night and were disinclined to cooperate. The cops had anticipated this, and were shining mini-floodlights on them.   No results. The cops started shaking the crates and banged on them a bit. The doves adopted that startled, concerned, head-bobbing pigeon look, but still wanted nothing to do with it. So the exasperated cops just started grabbing birds by the handful and throwing them out over the square, to fly around symbolically like they were supposed to.”

The end of year also provided the opportunity to look at some demographic facts and figures from Israel which are provided here.  Things look rosy, with the Israeli population standing at 7.5 million.  The article by Ruth Eglash notes that “Israel’s population has continued to grow at a steady rate of 1.8 percent over the past seven years, with 160,000 new babies born since last January 1 and some 14,500 new immigrants arriving over the past year.

In terms of ethnic divisions, Israel’s Jews now make up 75.4% of the population or 5,664,000 people; Arabs, 20.3% or 1,526,000 citizens and the remaining 4.3% (319,000) are those registered as “others” by the Interior Ministry..  Israel is still a fairly young nation with nearly 30% of its population under the age of 14, compared to 17% in most other Western countries. Only 9.7% of the population is over the age of 65 in Israel, whereas in other Western countries this figure is closer to roughly 15%…   The average Jewish family size increased since 2008 from 2.8 children per household to 2.96. In the Muslim community, the average number of children per mother was 3.84, a drop from the previous two years where it had reached 3.97 children per household. Among Christian families the average number of children was down to 2.11 in 2008.”

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