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Beware of Palestinians Bearing Demographic Numbers


The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) declared in December, 2010 that 2014 will, ostensibly, usher in a Jewish-Arab demographic parity between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean followed by an Arab majority.  That projection has been reverberated by Israeli demographers and politicians, who claim that conceding geography (Judea and Samaria) is, supposedly, a prerequisite for a secure Jewish demography.  They do not examine, or doubt, the PCBS, “since the PCBS is credible, professional and supervised by Norway and the UN.”  Really?!

Instead of conducting a public debate on the future of the mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria, they try to scare policy-makers and the public at-large into retreat and concessions.  Their campaign feeds pessimism and fatalism, eroding Israel’s bargaining position and posture of deterrence. They claim that Jews are doomed to become a minority west of the Jordan River.  Really?!

Reality has refuted the “Demographers of Doom,” at least, since the end of the 19th century.  In March 1898, Shimon Dubnov, the leading Jewish demographer-historian, contended that Herzl’s Zionism was devoid of demographic infrastructure, since no more than 500,000 Jews could be expected in the Land of Israel by the year 2000. He was off by 5 million Jews!  On the eve of the establishment of the Jewish State, Professor Roberto Bacchi, the founder of the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics and the guru of Israel’s demographers and statisticians, warned that Jews were eventually doomed to become a minority within the Partition Plan.  He pressured Ben Gurion to delay declaration of independence and projected that – under the best case scenario – there will be 2.3 million Jews in the Land of Israel, a 34% minority.  He was wrong by 3 million Jews! 

Since 1967, Bacchi’s students have attempted to convince Israeli Prime Ministers to subordinate national security considerations to the “Demographic Scare.”  They have urged Israeli leaders to sacrifice the irreplaceable geography and topography of the over-towering Judean and Samarian mountain ridges – historically and militarily – on the altar of demography.

In 2010, they adhere to Professor Bacchi’s legacy. Thus, they underrate Jewish fertility, which is higher than most Arab countries (2.9 and trending upward VS. 2.8 in Jordan, 2.5 in Egypt, 2.5 in the Gulf States and trending downward).  They idolize Arab fertility ignoring its sharp collapse.  And, they ignore annual net-Arab emigration from Judea, Samaria and Gaza since 1950 (other than six years), while downplaying the prospect of Aliya.  During the 1980s – as they do today – they underestimated the number of Soviet Jews by 50% and stated that no massive Aliya was expected even if Moscow opened its gates.  In defiance of Israel’s demographic establishment, over one million Olim arrived catapulting the Jewish State to unprecedented heights technologically, medically, economically, culturally and demographically.

In June 1997, the Palestinian Authority conducted its first census.  PCBS’ director, Hassan Abu Libdeh told the New York Times (December 11, 1997): “The census is our civil Intifadah.”  Indeed, the census inflated the number of Arabs in Judea, Samaria and Gaza by 650,000 persons (30%).  It included overseas residents (who were away for over a year), a “double count” of Jerusalem Arabs (who were counted as Israeli Arabs and as West Bank Arabs), etc.  The census triggered a wave of psychological terrorism, afflicting Israeli policy-makers with demographobia – the illogical fear of demography.  It expanded the flow of monetary contributions from donor countries and the supply of water from Israel. 

In December 2010, the PCBS published its most recent population estimate, inflating the number of Judea and Samaria Arabs by 66% (almost 1.6 million and not 2.5 million) and the number of Gaza Arabs by 23% (almost 1.3 million and not 1.6 million).  The PCBS estimate includes over 400,000 overseas residents, a “double count” of 240,000 Jerusalem Arabs, ignores the sustained annual net-emigration of well over 10,000 Arabs and misrepresents the number of births by some 30,000 annually. 

Demographobia has shaped Israel’s public debate on the future of Judea and Samaria, in spite of the 50% rise in the annual number of Jewish births since 1995, compared with the stabilization of the annual number of Arab births since then, which attests to the extraordinary integration of Israeli Arabs into the infrastructures of health, education, employment, finance, culture and politics. Demgoraphobia has corrupted movers and shakers in defiance of a September 2006 study by The World Bank, which documented a 32% “inflation” in the number of PCBS births.  Demographobia has clouded the Israeli state-of-mind notwithstanding the demographic tailwind which bolsters the current 66% Jewish majority in the combined area of Judea, Samaria and pre-1967 Israel, in addition to the historical Aliya prospect deriving from the global economic meltdown, Israel’s growing economy and the rise of anti-Semitism.  There is a demographic problem, but there is no demographic machete at the throat of the Jewish State.

Dr. David Passig, a futurist and the Head of the Graduate Program of Communication Technologies at Bar Ilan University, analyzes the collapse of Middle East and global demographic projections and the blossoming of Jewish demography in Israel.  According to Passig, Muslim fertility is experiencing the fastest decline in the world, while Israel’s Jewish fertility rate is surging.  In 2010, Israeli Arab fertility rate declined to its lowest level, as a result of unprecedented modernization process. “Among Palestinians, natural birth and fertility rates are similar to those in Jordan (2.8 births per woman).”

Is demographic pessimism justified in 2011 while Herzl and Ben Gurion were solidly optimistic in 1900 and in 1947 when Jews were a minority of 8% and 33% respectively in their Homeland?!

Is it responsible to subordinate Jewish vision and national security to tenuous demographic problems in 2011, while Ben Gurion and his successors – until 1992 – proactively upgraded demography in order to advance vision and national security?!  





The post-1967 turning point of US-Israel cooperation

Israeli benefits to the US taxpayer exceed US foreign aid to Israel

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Exposing the myth of the Arab demographic time bomb

2023 demographic update: no Arab demographic time bomb

Demography west of the Jordan River

In 2023, Israel is the only Western democracy endowed with a relatively high fertility rate, that facilitates further economic growth, which is not dependent upon migrant labor.  Moreover, Israel’s thriving demography provides for bolstered national security (larger classes of recruits), economy and technology and a more confident foreign policy.

In 2023, contrary to projections made by the demographic establishment at the end of the 19th century and during the 1940s, Israel’s Jewish fertility rate is higher than the fertility rates in all Muslim countries other than Iraq and the sub-Sahara Muslim countries.

In 2023 (based on the latest data of 2021), the Jewish fertility rate of 3.13 births per woman is higher than the 2.85 Arab fertility rate (as it has been since 2016) and the 3.01 Arab-Muslim fertility rate (as it has been since 2020).

In 2023, Israel’s Jewish fertility rate is higher than any Arab country other than Iraq’s.

In 2023, there is a race (which started in the 1990s) between the Jewish and Arab fertility rates, unlike the race between the Arab fertility rate and Jewish Aliyah (immigration), which took place in 1949-1990s (while the Jewish fertility rate was relatively low).

In 2023, the Westernization of Arab demography persists as a derivative of modernity, urbanization, women’s enhanced social status, women’s enrollment in higher education and increased use of contraceptives.

In 2023, in contrast to conventional demographic wisdom, Israel is not facing a potential Arab demographic time bomb in the combined areas of Judea, Samaria (the West Bank) and pre-1967 Israel. In fact, the Jewish State benefits from a robust tailwind of fertility rate and net-immigration.

In 2023, the demographic and policy-making establishment persists in reverberating the official Palestinian numbers without due-diligence (auditing), ignoring a 100% artificial inflation of the population numbers: inclusion of overseas resident, double-counting of Jerusalem Arabs and Israeli Arabs married to Judea and Samaria Arabs, inflated birth – and deflated death – data (as documented below).

In 2023, Israel is facing a potential wave of Aliyah (Jewish immigration) of some 500,000 Olim from the Ukraine, Russia, other former Soviet republics, France, Britain, Germany, Argentina, the USA, etc., which requires Israel to approach pro-active Aliyah policy as a top national priority.

In 2023, the Jewish demographic momentum persists (since 1995) with the secular Jewish sector making the difference, while the ultra-orthodox sector is experiencing a slight decline in fertility rate.

Jewish demographic momentum

*The number of Israeli Jewish births in 2022 (137,566) was 71% higher than 1995 (80,400), while the number of Israeli Arab births in 2022 (43,417) was 19% higher than 1995 (36,500), as reported by the February 2023 Monthly Bulletin of Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics (ICBS).

*In 2022, Jewish births (137,566) were 76% of total births (180,983), compared to 69% in 1995.

*The fertility rate (number of births per woman) of Israeli secular Jewish women has trended upward during the last 25 years.

*Israeli Jewish women – who are second only to Iceland in joining the job market – are unique in experiencing a direct correlation between a rise of fertility rate, on the one hand, and a rise in urbanization, education, level of income, integration into the job market and a rise of wedding age, on the other hand.

*In 1969, Israel’s Arab fertility rate was 6 births higher than the Jewish fertility rate. In 2015, both fertility rates were at 3.13 births per woman, reflecting the dramatic Westernization of Arab demography, triggered by the enhanced social status of women, older wedding age (24), expanded participation of women in higher-education and the job market, and shorter reproductive time (25-45 rather than 16-55). According to Israel’s Monthly Bulletin of Statistics, in 2021, the Jewish fertility rate was 3.13 (and 3.27 with an Israeli-born Jewish father), while the overall Arab fertility rate was 2.85 and the Muslim fertility rate was 3 (Judea and Samaria Arab fertility rate – 3.02).  The average OECD fertility rate is 1.61 births per woman.

*The unique growth in Israel’s Jewish fertility rate is attributed to optimism, patriotism, attachment to Jewish roots, communal solidarity, the Jewish high regard for raising children, frontier mentality and a declining number of abortions (34% decline since 1990).

*In 2022, there were 45,271 Israeli Jewish deaths, compared to 31,575 in 1996, a 43% increase (while the size of the population almost doubled!), which reflects a society growing younger. In 2022, there were 6,314 Israeli Arab deaths, compared to 3,089 in 1996, a 104% increase, which reflects a society growing older.  

In 2021, Israeli males’ life expectancy was 80.5 and Israeli females – 84.6.  Israel’s Arab life expectancy (78 per men and 82 per women) is higher than the US life expectancy (men – 73.2, women – 79.1). Life expectancy of Judea and Samaria Arabs: men – 74, women – 78.

*In 2022, the number of Israeli Jewish deaths was 33% of Jewish births, compared to 40% in 1995 – a symptom of a society growing younger. In 2022, the number of Israeli Arab deaths was 14.5% of Arab births, compared to 8% in 1995 – a symptom of a society growing older.

*Since 1995, the demographic trend has expanded the younger segment of Israel’s Jewish population, which provides a solid foundation for enhanced demography and economy.

*The positive Jewish demographic trend is further bolstered by Israel’s net-immigration, which consists of an annual Aliyah (Jewish immigration), reinforced by the shrinking scope of Israeli emigration: from 14,200 net-emigration in 1990 to 10,800 in 2020 (while the population doubled itself), which is higher than the 7,000 average annual net-emigration in recent years. The 2020 numbers may reflect the impact of COVID-19 on air travel.

Westernization of Arab demography

*A dramatic decline in the fertility rate from 9 births per woman in the 1960s to 3.02 births in 2022 is documented by the CIA World Factbook, which generally echoes the official Palestinian numbers. It reflects the Westernization of Arab demography in Judea and Samaria, which has been accelerated by the sweeping urbanization (from a 70% rural population in 1967 to a 77% urban population in 2022), as well as the rising wedding age for women (from 15 years old to 24), the substantial use of contraceptives (70% of Arab women in Judea and Samaria) and the shrinking of the reproductive period (from 16-55 to 24-45).

*The median age of Judea and Samaria Arabs is 22 years old, compared to 18 years old in 2005.

*The Westernization of fertility rates has characterized all Muslim countries, other than the sub-Sahara region: Jordan (which is very similar to the Judea and Samaria Arabs) – 2.9 births per woman, Iran – 1.9, Saudi Arabia – 1.9, Morocco – 2.27, Iraq – 3.17, Egypt – 2.76, Yemen – 2.91, United Arab Emirates – 1.65, etc.

*The number of Arab deaths in Judea and Samaria has been systematically under-reported (for political power and financial reasons), as documented by various studies since the British Mandate. For example, a recent Palestinian population census included Arabs who were born in 1845….

Artificially-inflated Palestinian numbers

*The demographic and policy-making establishment of Israel and the West refrains from auditing the official Palestinian data, and therefore it does not report the following well-documented Palestinian departure from a credible census:

*500,000 overseas residents, who have been away for over a year, are included in the Palestinian population census. However, internationally accepted procedures stipulate only a de-facto count. It was 325,000, as stated by the Head of the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics in the aftermath of the first Palestinian census of 1997; increasing to 400,000 in 2005, as documented by the Palestinian Election Commission. The number grows daily because of overseas births.

*375,000 East Jerusalem Arabs, who possess Israeli ID cards, are doubly-counted. They are included in the Israeli census as well as in the Palestinian census. The number grows daily due to births.

*Over 150,000 Arabs from Gaza and (mostly) from Judea and Samaria, who married Israeli Arabs and received Israeli ID cards, are doubly-counted counted by Israel and by the Palestinian Authority. The number expands daily because of births.

*390,000 Arab emigrants from Judea and Samaria are not excluded from the population census of the Palestinian Authority. The latter ignores the annual net-emigration of mostly-young-Arabs from Judea and Samaria (20,000 annually in recent years). Net-emigration has been a systemic feature of the area, at least, since the Jordanian occupation in 1950. For example, 15,466 in 2022, 28,000 in 2021, 26,357 in 2019, 15,173 in 2017 and 16,393 in 2015, as documented by Israel’s Immigration and Population Authority, which records all Jewish and Arab exists and entries via Israel’s land, air and sea international passages.

*A 32% artificial inflation of Palestinian births was documented by the World Bank (page 8, item 6) in a 2006 audit. While the Palestinian Authority claimed an 8% increase in the number of births, the World Bank detected a 24% decrease.

*The aforementioned data documents 1.4 million Arabs in Judea and Samaria, when deducting the aforementioned documented-data (1.6 million) from the official Palestinian number (3 million).

The bottom line

*The US should derive much satisfaction from Israel’s demographic viability and therefore, Israel’s enhanced posture of deterrence, which is the US’ top force and dollar multiplier in the Middle East and beyond.

*In 1897, there was a 9% Jewish minority in the combined area of pre-1967 Israel, Judea and Samaria, expanding to a 39% minority in 1947. In 2023, there is a 69% Jewish majority (7.5mn Jews, 2mn Israeli Arabs and 1.4mn Arabs in Judea and Samaria), benefitting from a robust demographic tailwind of births and migration.

*In contrast to conventional wisdom, there is no Arab demographic time bomb.  There is, however, a robust Jewish demographic tailwind.

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The post-1967 turning point of US-Israel cooperation

Israeli benefits to the US taxpayer exceed US foreign aid to Israel

Iran - A Clear And Present Danger To The USA

Exposing the myth of the Arab demographic time bomb