Israel’s Jewish-Arab Demography: The Real Numbers
by Yoram Ettinger
In 2012, Israel’s Jewish demography continued its the robust surge, typical of the last 17 years, while Muslim demography, west of the Jordan River and throughout the Middle East, increasingly embraces Western standards.
According to a June 2012 study by the Washington-based Population Reference Bureau (PRB), 72 percent of 15-49 year old Palestinian married women prefer to avoid pregnancy, as do 78% in Morocco, 71% in Jordan, 69% in Egypt and Libya, 68% in Syria, 63% in Iraq and 61% in Yemen. The PRB study states that “a growing number of women are using contraception, as family planning services have expanded in the Arab region.”
The unprecedented fertility decline in the Muslim world was documented in June 2012 by Dr. Nicholas Eberstadt, a leading demographer at the American Enterprise Institute, and Apoorva Shah of the Hoover Institute. According to Eberstadt and Shah, “Throughout the worldwide Muslim community, fertility levels are falling dramatically … According to the U.N. Population Division estimates and projections, all 48 Muslim-majority countries and territories witnessed fertility decline over the last three decades … The proportional decline in fertility for Muslim-majority areas was greater than for the world as a whole over that same period, or for the less-developed regions as a whole … Six of the ten largest absolute declines in fertility for a two-decade period yet recorded in the postwar era (and by extension, we may suppose, ever to take place under orderly conditions in human history) have occurred in Muslim-majority countries … Four of the ten greatest fertility declines ever recorded in a 20-year period took place in the Arab world … No other region of the world — not highly dynamic Southeast Asia, or even rapidly modernizing East Asia — comes close to this showing … The remarkable fertility declines now unfolding throughout the Muslim world is one of the most important demographic developments in our era.”
The key developments yielding a drastic decline in Arab fertility, in the Middle East including west of the Jordan River, have been modernity and its derivatives. For instance, urbanization (the Arab population of Judea and Samaria was 70% rural in 1967, and 75% urban in 2012), expanded women’s education and employment, a record-high divorce rate and wedding age, all-time-high family planning, rapidly declining teen-pregnancy, youthful male net-emigration, etc.
The Palestinian Authority has inflated the actual number of Arabs in Judea and Samaria (1.65 million) by one million, to counter the arrival of one million immigrants from the former Soviet Union to Israel. Thus, contrary to internationally accepted demographic standards, the PA counts some 400,000 overseas residents, who have been overseas for over a year, as de-facto residents. Some 300,000 Israeli I.D. card-holding Jerusalem Arabs are counted twice, both as Israelis (by Israel) and as Palestinians (by the PA). The number of births is over-reported, the number of deaths is under-reported, emigration is ignored, etc.
In 2012, Israel’s Jewish fertility rate (three births per woman) is trending upward, boding well for Israel’s economy and national security, exceeding any Middle Eastern Muslim country, other than Yemen, Iraq and Jordan, all of which are trending downward. Iran’s fertility rate is 1.8 births per woman, in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States the rate is 2.5, in Syria and Egypt 2.9 and in North Africa 1.8. The average fertility rate of an Israeli-born Jewish mother has already surpassed three births. In 2012, the Israeli Arab-Jewish fertility gap is half a birth per woman, compared with a six birth gap in 1969. Moreover, young Jewish and Arab-Israeli women have converged at three births, with Arab women trending below — and Jewish women trending above — three births.
In 2012, Jewish births have expanded to 77% of total Israeli births, compared with 69% in 1969. While the ultra-Orthodox Jewish fertility rate has declined, due to growing integration into the workforce and the military, the secular Jewish fertility rate has risen significantly.
Since 2001, the number of Jewish emigrants has decreased and the number of returning Jewish expatriates has increased. Aliyah (Jewish immigration) has been sustained annually since 1882, while Arab net-emigration — especially from Judea and Samaria — has been fixed, at least, since 1950.
The current 66% Jewish majority in the combined area of pre-1967 Israel, Judea and Samaria could catapult to an 80% majority in 2035, if Israel seizes the clear and present dramatic aliyah window of opportunity. At least 500,000 immigrants from the former Soviet Union, France, Britain, Argentina and the U.S. could reach Israel during the next five years, in light of Israel’s economic indicators, the intensification of European anti-Semitism, the Islamic penetration of Europe and the expansion of Jewish-Zionist education.
The suggestion that Jews are doomed to become a minority between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean is either dramatically mistaken or outrageously misleading.
This article was originally published by Israel Hayom.