The Israelis are constantly told that one reason they need to accept a “two-state solution” is so that they can preserve a state that is “both Jewish and democratic,” which will not be possible if the Arab citizens outnumber the Jews. There is a need, so they are told, to create a new state where not only Palestinian Arabs, but also many Israeli Arabs, will want to live. They are assured that otherwise, if they hold onto all of Judea and Samaria, they will soon be swamped demographically by the Arabs – both Israeli and Palestinian — who, it is claimed, have a much higher fertility rate than the Israeli Jews. Yoram Ettinger has been examining the data which, he says, grossly overstate the Arab demographic threat. More on his findings are here: “2023 Update: No Arab Demographic Time Bomb,” by Yoram Ettinger, JNS.org, March 19, 2023:
In 2023, Israel is the only Western democracy with a relatively high fertility rate. The country’s thriving demography provides for bolstered national security (larger classes of recruits), a growing economy and a more confident foreign policy.
Israeli Jews have the highest fertility rate in the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The fertility rates in the other 37 OECD countries don’t even attain replacement level. Why does this matter? The larger the population, the larger the number of soldiers – recruits — it can count on to serve in its military. A larger population also means a larger economy and, Ettinger argues, both the larger military and the larger economy together make for greater self-assurance on the world stage.
Contrary to the projections of the demographic establishment at the end of the 19th century and during the 1940s, Israel’s Jewish fertility rate is higher than those of all Muslim countries other than Iraq and the sub-Saharan Muslim countries. Based on the latest data, the Jewish fertility rate of 3.13 births per woman is higher than the 2.85 Arab rate (since 2016) and the 3.01 Arab-Muslim fertility rate (since 2020).
The Jewish fertility rate in Israel is higher than that in all the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) countries, with the single exception of Iraq. That rate is 3.13, which is higher than that of the Israeli Muslim Arabs (3.01), and much higher than the overall Arab rate, which includes Christian Arabs (2.85).
Why should this be?
Changes in Arab society have led Arab women to want fewer children. As Arab societies become both more urban and more modern, girls no longer marry in their teens. Some enter the job force, which is now more open to single women, and find that they don’t have to get married for support; they can support themselves. Others go on to receive higher education. The longer they stay in school, the later they get married, and the later they have children. They are no longer kept at home to be mere breeders. Furthermore, the widespread availability of cheap and effective contraceptives gives Arab women the ability to decide when, or whether, to have a child, which was seldom the case in the past.
However, the demographic and policy-making establishment persists in echoing official Palestinian figures without auditing, ignoring a 100% artificial inflation of those population numbers. This inflation is accomplished via the inclusion of overseas residents, double-counting Jerusalem Arabs and Israeli Arabs married to Judea and Samaria Arabs, an inflated birth rate and deflated death rate.
The Palestinians consistently overstate their population in Judea and Samaria. This is done in order to lay claim to more aid from donors, both to the PA and to UNRWA, and to frighten the Zionist enemy with the specter of a demographic time bomb.
In 2022, 70,000 immigrants made aliyah; that is more than twice the number of Jewish immigrants in 2021.They arrived from 60 countries. Many, unsurprisingly, came from Russia and the Ukraine. The European Jewish Congress estimates that there were between 350,000 and 400,000 Jews in Ukraine before the war. The number of Jews remaining in Russia is estimated at 160,000.
In 2023, Israel is facing a potential wave of aliyah (Jewish immigration) comprising some 500,000 immigrants from the Ukraine, Russia, other former Soviet republics, France, Britain, Germany, Argentina, the United States, etc., which requires Israel to approach proactive immigration policy as a top national priority.
There are many places in the world where war, economic collapse, and the rise in antisemitism encourage Jews to make aliyah. The Russian war in Ukraine has led to an enormous increase in Jews leaving both countries for Israel. In the former Soviet republics, including both the three Baltic countries, and the five Central Asian “stans,” economic hardship has been the driving force for Jews making aliyah.In France, Britain, and Germany, the rise in antisemitism, including physical attacks on Jews in the streets, is attributable to the large numbers of Muslim immigrants now in Western Europe. This situation has prompted rising numbers of Jews to leave for Israel. In Argentina, the antisemitism has been mostly homegrown, though Iranian agents have been blamed for the terror attacks on the Israeli Embassy in 1992, and for the 1994 bombing of the Argentine Israeli Mutual Association (AMIA) building, the center of the Jewish community in Buenos Aires, which was the deadliest antisemitic attack outside Israel since the Holocaust. In that attack, 84 people were killed and 300 wounded. There are now an estimated 3.5 million Argentines of Arab descent, and though most of them are Christians, they frequently adopt the anti-Israeli views of Muslim Arabs. The Jewish population in Argentina is far smaller – only 180,000. They, too, are a likely source of olim in the future.
Yoram Ettinger explains what he calls the “Jewish demographic momentum”:
- The number of Israeli Jewish births in 2022 (137,566) was 71% higher than in 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 workforce participation—are unique in experiencing a direct correlation between rising fertility rate, on the one hand, and a rise in urbanization, education, income, integration into the job market and a wedding age, on the other.
Israeli Jewish women are the only ones in the advanced world whose birthrates are actually rising. All the changes that elsewhere have led to a lowering of the fertility rate have in Israel led to an increase in the fertility rate. To wit, for Israeli Jewish women, greater urbanization, more education, higher incomes, and later marriages all correlate with higher birthrates.
- In 1969, Israel’s Arab fertility rate was six births higher than the Jewish 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, higher wedding age (24), expanded workforce participation and a shorter reproductive window (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.
By 2021, the Jewish fertility rate had finally surpassed the fertility rates of both Israeli and Palestinian Arabs, and that rate continues to rise.
- The unique growth in Israel’s Jewish fertility rate is attributed to optimism, patriotism, attachment to Jewish roots, communal solidarity, a frontier mentality and a decliningnumber of abortions (34% since 1990).
There are various reasons for this continuing upward surge in the fertility rate of Israeli Jews. Jews in Israel are optimistic about their futures, and this encourages the desire to have more children. Israel has just been listed in fourth place on the World Happiness Index. They are also keenly aware of the need to keep the Jewish population high in relation to that of the Arabs; Jewish mothers are doing their patriotic duty to have more babies.
- The number of Arab deaths in Judea and Samaria has been systematically under-reported (for political 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….
The PA underreports deaths in order to keep its population figures high; for the same reason, it over-reports births. The greater the number of Palestinians who are claimed to exist, the more money the PA government can reasonably ask from aid donors.
- Approximately 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. Furthermore, this number was 325,000 in 1997 following the first Palestinian census, according to the head of the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. It increased to 400,000 in 2005, as documented by the Palestinian Election Commission. The number grows daily because of overseas births….
Palestinians who live overseas for more than a year are included in their own census, despite the standard rule that such people should no longer be counted unless, of course, they have returned to their previous homes in the PA-ruled territories and Gaza. Half-a-million of those who live overseas have been counted — wrongly — by the Palestinian government in its census, a figure that the Western countries have chosen to simply accept without question.
- A 32% artificial inflation of Palestinian births was documented by the World Bank (page 8, item 6) in a 2006 audit. While the PA claimed an 8% increase in the number of births, the World Bank detected a 24% decrease.
Why did the PA claim an 8% increase in births when the real figure was a 24% decrease in births? The PA simply made up the higher figure in order to justify its constant demand for more aid from international donors, both for itself and for UNRWA.
While the official Palestinian population figure for Judea and Samaria is 3 million, when the above factors are taken into account, the resulting figure is less than half of that: 1.4 million.
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 (7.5 million Jews, 2 million Israeli Arabs and 1.4 million Arabs in Judea and Samaria), with the trend heavily favoring Jewish population growth.
It is understandable that the Palestinians have done everything they can to make their population numbers as large as possible. They lie both about their birth and death rates, knowing from experience that Western countries will not dare to question them. The World Bank did call them out on one occasion, in 2006, when the PA claimed a 8% increase in births, when in fact there had been a 24% decrease. A large number of Palestinians are “double-counted,” for they appear on the census rolls of both Israel and the P.A. This includes both 375,000 Palestinians who live in east Jerusalem, and are provided with Israeli I.D. cards, and another 150,000 Palestinian Arabs from both Gaza and the West Bank who married Israeli Arabs, and are counted inthe Israeli and the Palestinian census. When every Arab has been counted properly – that is, only once – we find that the “3 million” Palestinians in Judea and Samaria become instead 1.4 million.
In contrast to conventional wisdom, there is no Arab demographic time bomb. There is, however, a robust Jewish demographic tailwind.
Israel has many things to worry about. Demography, if current projections hold, should not be one of them.
Ed Snider says
The greatest story never told.