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Bursting the Demographic Bubble

The assumption that Jews are doomed to become a minority between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean has eroded confidence in the future of the Jewish State.  It has also triggered the thesis that Israel must, supposedly, retreat from Jewish geography (Judea and Samaria), in order to secure Jewish demography. This assumption has facilitated the recent entrenchment of the Two State Solution.

But, what if that assumption ignores the severe demographic decline in Muslim societies? What if the real demographic tailwind has been Jewish, yielding a long-term robust 67% Jewish majority over 98.5% of the land west of the Jordan River? What if the official number of Arabs in Judea and Samaria is inflated by 53%? How would a transformation from baseless demographic-fatalism to well documented demographic-optimism impact the morale of the Jewish People and the Jewish State?  How would it affect Aliya, Israel’s national security and posture of deterrence, its economy and the confidence of overseas investors in the Jewish State?



In sharp contrast to conventional wisdom, the UN Population Division reports a sharp decline of fertility rate (number of births per woman) in Muslim and Arab countries, except in Afghanistan and Yemen.  The myth of “doubling Muslim population every 20 years” has been shattered against the rocks of modernity and reality. UNESCO’s Director-General, Koichiro Matsuura, stated, during a May 22, 2007 UNESCO conference on Population – From Explosion to Implosion:


“There is an abrupt slowdown in the rate of population growth… also in many countries where women have only limited access to education and employment… In the last fifty years, median fertility     has fallen from 5.4 to 2.1 [births per woman]… There is not the slightest reason to assume that the decline in fertility will miraculously stop just at replacement level (2.1 births)….”

The collapse of Muslim fertility rates is a derivative of modernization, rapid urbanization and internal security concerns by dictators. They fear the consequences of rapid population growth, while economic growth lags far behind. As a result, the UN Population Division has reduced its 2050 population projections by 25 percent, from 12 billion to 9 billion, possibly shrinking to 7.4 billion.

For instance, the fertility rate in Iran has declined – as directed by its religious leaders – from 9 births per woman, 30 years ago, to 1.8 births in 2007. The Muslim religious establishment has also promoted decreasing fertility rates in Saudi Arabia and Egypt, from 8 and 7 births per woman 30 years ago, to less than 4 and 2.5 births respectively in 2007. Jordan, which is demographically similar to Judea and Samaria, and Syria have diminished from 8 births per woman, 30 years ago, to less than 3.5 in 2007. A substantial dive of fertility rates in Muslim countries – trending toward 2-3 births per woman – is documented by the Population Resource Center in Washington, DC.

According to demographic precedents, there is only a slim probability that high fertility rates can be resurrected following a sustained period of significant reduction.





In defiance of demographic fatalism, Israel’s demographic momentum has been Jewish.  Since 1882 (the launching of annual Aliya), the Jewish population between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean has grown 238 fold, while the Arab population increased only 6 fold.  Since 1948, the Jewish population increased almost 10 fold and the Arab population expanded 3 fold.


Thus, according to Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics (ICBS), the annual number of Israeli Jewish births has    Jewish births has grown by 45% from 1995 (80,400) to 2008 (117,000), while the number of Israeli Arab births has stabilized at 39,000 annually. The sharp decline of fertility rate among “Green Line” Arabs has been the outcome of their successful integration into Israel’s education, employment, commerce, health, banking, cultural, political and sports infrastructures.


The proportion of Jewish births has increased from 69% (of total births) in 1995 to 74% in 2006 and 75% in 2008.  The total fertility rates of Jewish and Arab women, in Jerusalem, have converged at 3.9 births per woman.  The Arab-Jewish fertility gap shrunk from 6 births in 1969 to 0.7 births per woman in 2008! The secular Jewish sector has been mostly responsible for such a development, especially the Olim from the former USSR, who are shifting from a typical Russian fertility rate of 1 birth per woman to the typical secular Jewish rate of 2-3. While Israel’s Jewish fertility rate (2.8 births) is the highest in the industrialized world, the decline in Arab fertility rate (3.5) has occurred 20 years faster than projected. The Jewish demographic tailwind is further bolstered by the highly under-utilized potential of Aliya from the former USSR, the US, Europe, Latin America, South Africa and Australia, which has increased due to the global economic meltdown and intensified anti Semitism.




On December 11, 1997, upon conclusion of the first Palestinian census, the head of the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) told the New York Times that “the census is a civil Intifada!”

Indeed, the census has been leveraged by the Palestinian Authority in its confrontation with Israel and in its attempts to increase contributions from the US and other western countries.


The American-Israel Demographic Research Group (AIDRG), headed by Bennett Zimmerman, discovered that Israel’s demographic establishment embraced the PCBS census and projections without scrutiny.  Israel‘s demographic establishment was unaware that the PCBS numbers were refuted annually by the documentation of births, deaths, migration and eligible voters, as performed by the Palestinian Ministries of Health and Education, by the Palestinian Election Commission, by Israel’s Border Police, by Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics (ICBS) and by Jordan’s Central Bureau of Statistics.


Israel‘s demographic establishment did not question the addition of some 650,000 Palestinians (30%!) as a result of the 1997 PCBS census. The establishment did not raise an eyebrow when the PCBS contended a 170% population growth from 1.5 million in 1990 to 3.8 million in Judea, Samaria and Gaza in 2007. Such a growth rate would be substantially higher than the population growth rates of Afghanistan, Niger and Eritrea, which have the fastest growing populations – much faster than in Gaza, Judea and Samaria – according to the UN Population Division. Israel’s establishment did not examine, did not know and did not report.


The American-Israel Demographic Research Group (AIDRG), whose groundbreaking study was scrutinized by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and published by the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies http://www.biu.ac.il/SOC/besa/MSPS65.pdf(


has uncovered a number of significant flaws in the PCBS numbers.


For example:     


1.  Some 400,000 overseas Palestinians – who have been away for over a year – were included the census, as documented by the PCBS director and website.  Such a practice defies globally acceptable demographic standards, which include only de-facto residents and those who are away for less than a year.  Thus, Israel does not count Israelis, who have been away for over a year. 


2.  Over 200,000 Jerusalem Arabs – possessing Israel ID cards – are doubly-counted as Israeli Arabs (by the ICBS) and as West Bank Arabs (by the PCBS). The UN, the State Department and other organizations combine the PCBS and ICBS figures, in order to find out the total number of Arabs between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean, hence the double-count. 


3.  113,000 persons should be deleted due to a discrepancy between the total of eligible voters (18 and older) in the PA as contended by the PCBS and those actually documented by the PA Election Commission during the January 2005 election.


4.  A 40,000-50,000 annual gap between the number of babies born according to the PCBS on one hand, and the number of documented births by the PA Ministries of Health and Education on the other hand.  The Ministry of Health documents down to the level of village midwives.


5.  A 50,000 net annual immigration was factored into the PCBS numbers.  However, the average annual net emigration of well over 10,000 has been documented since 1950 by Jordan, Egypt and Israel in the various land, air and sea international passages in Israel, along the Jordan River and around Gaza.  For instance, 16,000 net emigrants in 2005, 25,000 in 2006 and 25,000 in 2007. Emigration has escalated since the 2000 Intifada and has shifted to an even higher gear since the 2006 ascension of Hamas, the Hamas-Fatah civil war and the rise in the price of oil, which has increased demand for Palestinian manpower by the Gulf Sheikdoms.


6.  105,000 Palestinians received Israeli ID cards (since 1997). They are doubly-counted as Israeli Arabs (by the ICBS) and West Bank Arabs (by the PCBS).


AIDRG findings have been supported by The World Bank 2006 survey of education, in Judea, Samaria and Gaza.  The survey documents a 32% gap between the number of Palestinian births claimed by the PCBS, and those documented by the Palestinian Ministries of Health and Education. The World Bank attributes the gap to reduced fertility and escalated emigration.


AIDRG highlights a declining trend in the Palestinian population growth rate in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, mostly due to escalated emigration, as well as accelerated urbanization (60% urban in 2009 compared with 30% in 1967), expanded education and career mentality (especially among women), all time high divorce rate, a higher median marriage age and an unprecedented family planning campaign, which includes contraceptives and instructions to prevent teen pregnancy.


AIDRG has documented a robust long-term Jewish majority of 67% west of the Jordan River without Gaza and 60% with Gaza, compared with an 8% Jewish minority in 1900 and a 33% Jewish minority in 1947 between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean.  The number of Arabs in Judea and Samaria is inflated by 53% (1.5MN and not 2.3MN) and the number of Arabs in Judea, Samaria and Gaza is inflated by 40% (2.7MN and not 3.8MN). 




In March 1898, Shimon Dubnov, a leading Jewish historian-demographer, who acted against Zionism and for Jewish autonomy in Europe, projected a population of 500,000 Jews west of the Jordan River by the year 2000. However, in 2000 there were 5 million Jews west of the Jordan River!


In October 1944, Prof. Roberto Bachi, the founder of Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics, contended that – under the best case scenario – there would be 2.3MN Jews in the Land of Israel by 2001, constituting a 33% minority.  In 2001, there was a solid 60% Jewish majority west of the Jordan River.


In 1967 and in 1973, Israel’s demographic establishment pressured Prime Ministers Levy Eshkol and Golda Meir to retreat from Judea, Samaria and Gaza, in order to avoid an Arab majority west of the Jordan River by 1987/90.  Once again – and during the peak of the Arab population growth rate – demographic doom’s day projections were frustrated by a robus


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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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