The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) published its December 2011 report, contending that in 2016, Jews will become a minority between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean. According to the PCBS, there are 2.6 million Arabs in Judea and Samaria and 1.6 million Arabs in Gaza.
The PCBS is dramatically mistaken and misleading. The number of Arabs in Judea and Samaria is inflated by one million persons and in Gaza by 300,000. The rapidly Westernized Arab fertility rate is artificially bloated. And, the significant Jewish demographic tailwind and the substantial Arab demographic headwind are concealed.
The head of the PCBS, Hassan Abu Libdeh, told the New York Times, on December 11, 1997, upon the completion of the first Palestinian census, that the census “is a civil Intifada.”
Thus, the erroneous PCBS numbers – which have yet to be audited by the US – enable the Palestinian Authority to rob US taxpayers and those of other generous countries. Western foreign aid to the Palestinian Authority has been partly based on the highly ballooned number of Palestinians.
Moreover, the PCBS feeds demographic misperceptions, which constitute effective psychological terrorism, eroding optimism and confidence in the future of the Jewish State, and scaring Israel into sweeping concessions. These misperceptions undermine Israel’s national security policy and diplomacy, and they attempt to generate pessimism, causing a setback to Aliya, long-term planning and overseas investments in Israel.
These false PCBS numbers fuel the insidious Arab-phobia, which is nurtured – mostly – by the illogical fear of Arab demography.
In fact, the Westernization of Arab fertility, west of the Jordan River, has been consistent with Mid-East reality. According to the CIA Factbook, Iran’s fertility rate has plummeted to 1.9 babies per woman, Jordan – 3.4, Egypt – 2.97, Syria – 2.94, Saudi Arabia – 2.3, North Africa – 2, etc. Israel’s Jewish fertility rate – 3 births per woman and trending upward due to the secular fertility surge – is higher than all Arab countries, other than the Sudan (4.9), Yemen (4.6), Iraq (3.7) and Jordan (3.4). The myth of doubling the Muslim population every 20 years has been shattered. Demographic precedents indicate that there is a slim probability that high fertility rates can be resurrected following a sustained period of significant reduction.
The CIA Factbook (3.05 births per woman) disputes the PCBS claim of a 3.8 fertility rate in Judea and Samaria. While the PCBS contends 32.8 births per 1,000 persons, the CIA Factbook notes a 24.56 rate. In a September 2006 report, the World Bank documented (page 8) a 32% gap between the annual number of PCBS projected and actual births. For the first time, since 1948, there is a convergence of fertility rates between young Jewish and Arab women west of the Jordan River.
The Arab fertility rate in Judea and Samaria has declined due to urbanization (30% in 1967 and 75% in 2011 with 30% unemployment), education expansion (especially among women), the spread of contraceptives, declining teen pregnancy, high median wedding age and a record divorce rate.
Annual net-emigration of 17,000 persons – mostly in their reproductive years – has contributed to the Arab fertility rate decline in Judea and Samaria. At the same time, Aliya has enhanced the Jewish fertility rate, which has surged as detailed in my previous article. While the annual number of Arab births stabilized during 1995-2011, the annual number of Jewish births catapulted by 56%!
PCBS numbers were initially inflated in June 1997, during the height of Aliya from the USSR. In 2011, the inflated number of Judea and Samaria Arabs includes more than 400,000 overseas residents – in violation of international demographic standards –the 270,000 Jerusalem Arabs, who are doubly-counted as Israelis and Palestinians, and 105,000 Palestinians who married Israeli Arabs, received Israeli ID cards and are also doubly-counted. In addition, the number of documented (home, clinic and hospital) births by the Palestinian Health and Education Departments has been dramatically lower than projections published by the PCBS, which has ignored annual net-emigration, setting migration at zero.
Notwithstanding the PCBS misrepresentations, there is a demographic challenge, but no demographic time bomb and no demographic machete at the throat of the Jewish State. From an 8% and 33% minority in 1900 and 1947 respectively, the Jewish population has become a majority of 66% west of the Jordan River, without Gaza. Persistence of the current demographic trends, bolstered by a long-overdue aggressive Aliya and demographic policies, could expand Jewish majority from 66% to 80% by 2035.