Monday, July 19, 2004

Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has one eye on the future when he calls on all French Jews to move to Israel.

It's true -- and a matter of deep concern -- that anti-semitism appears to be on the rise across Europe.

But perhaps Mr Sharon is more concerned over the changing demographics of the State of Israel.

With Arab birth rates far exceeding birth rates among Israeli Jews, it's estimated that Arabs will outnumber Jews in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza by the year 2020.

It's an issue that goes to the very heart of Israel's existence as a Jewish state.

A decade on from the last mass aliyah, of Jews from the former Soviet Union, Mr Sharon's comments could be seen as an attempt to cast a net out to the disapora in an attempt to maintain Israel's fragile demographic balance.