Friend-of-Goldblog Dina Kraft had a fascinating piece in the Times yesterday about Israel's program to make in-vitro fertilization available to any citizen who wants it -- Arab citizens included:
Israelis already have a high fertility rate: an average of 2.9 children per family. Beyond the biblical imperative to be fruitful, some Israeli Jews remain concerned with replenishing their numbers in the wake of the Holocaust.
Demographics here are also political. Israel has historically focused on promoting Jewish birthrates to retain a Jewish majority and more recently as a counterweight to higher fertility rates of Palestinians in the occupied territories. Arab citizens of Israel, however, have the same rights to state-paid fertility treatments as their Jewish counterparts.
A survey published by the journal Human Reproduction Update in 2002 showed that 1,657 in vitro fertilization procedures per million people per year were performed in Israel, compared with 899 in Iceland, the country with the second highest rate, and 126 in the United States, which trailed far behind European countries.
Two small comments: There are people in the world who would be creeped out by this policy, and especially about the echo one hears in it of the philosopher Emil Fackenheim's famous 614th Mitzvah: "Thou shalt not hand Hitler posthumous victories." I, for one, have never been bothered by the idea that the Jewish people have a duty to frustrate Hitler's designs by many different means: By maintaining our faith, by standing against fascism and antisemitism, and by repopulating the Jewish world. A second small point: Israel is a country that is often accused by extremists of engaging in genocidal policies. But if Israel is engaged in genocide, it is doing a very poor job of it: For one thing, it could stop paying for Arabs to have more babies.