The Myth of a Jewish Minority
by Yoram Ettinger
A military concept of arrogance swept Israel’s leadership 40 years ago. It required a heroic performance by the Israel Defense Forces to snatch victory from the jaws of oblivion during the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
A geopolitical concept of a peace-driven Middle East — the 1993 Oslo Accord and its derivative, the two-state solution — swept Israel’s leadership 20 years ago. It has been trounced systematically by the terror/war-driven imploding Arab street.
A demographic concept of doom — dismissing the prospect of massive Jewish immigration to the Land of Israel and projecting an Arab majority there — was defied 116 years ago and 65 years ago, respectively, by Theodore Herzl, who established the Zionist Congress, and David Ben-Gurion, who established the Jewish state.
The demographic concept of doom was fended off by Israeli leaders until 1992. They initiated significant waves of Jewish immigration, in defiance of the demographic establishment, multiplied Israel’s Jewish population tenfold since 1948, and dramatically expanded Jewish communities in greater Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria.
However, the demographic concept of doom has consumed Israel’s leadership since 1992, in spite of Israel’s unprecedented economic, military, political and demographic resources, and irrespective of the well-documented, systematic, 116-year-old bankruptcy of that concept.
An 8 percent Jewish minority in the Land of Israel did notdeter Herzl in 1897. A 55% Jewish majority within the Partition Plan boundary of the Jewish state did not deter Ben-Gurion in 1948. From a minority of 9% and 39% in 1897 and 1948, respectively, in the combined area of Judea, Samaria and “pre-1967 Israel,” Jews have surged to a 66% majority in 2013, benefiting from a robust tailwind of fertility and immigration.
The number of Israeli Jews is 6.3 million (including some 300,000 Soviet immigrants who are not yet recognized as Jews by the rabbinate) next to 1.7 million Israeli Arabs and 1.65 million Arabs in the territories. Their number has been artificially inflated by one million, to offset the arrival of one million immigrants from the USSR during the 1990s. The Palestinian misrepresentation aims at scaring Israel into territorial concessions.
The Palestinian population census “is a civil intifada,” said the head of the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, during a Dec. 11, 1997, New York Times interview.
Over 400,000 overseas residents, who have been away for over a year, are included in the Palestinian census, contrary to international standards. About 300,000 Israeli ID card-bearing Jerusalem Arabs and 100,000 Judea and Samaria Arabs (who married Israeli Arabs) are doubly counted: as Israeli Arabs by Israel and as West Bankers by the Palestinian Authority. In addition, Palestinian births are over-reported, deaths are under-reported (to sustain UNRWA subsidies) and a substantial net emigration is ignored.
In September, 2006, the World Bank documented a 32% gap between the Palestinian Authority number and the actual number of births. Still, for the sake of political correctness and the peace process, the Israeli government echoes the official Palestinian numbers without proper scrutiny and auditing.
A surge of 62% has occurred in annual Jewish births since 1995 (from 80,400 to 130,000), despite the decline in fertility among the ultra-Orthodox and due to the bolstered fertility among secular Jews, while Israeli Arab births increased by a mere 10% (from 36,500 to 40,000).
During the first half of 2013, the number of Jewish births (including births among the 300,000 immigrants from the USSR) was 77% of total births, compared with 69% in 1995. In 2013, there are 3.5 Jewish births per one Arab birth, compared with a 2.3:1 ratio in 1995. In 2013, the Jewish and Arab fertility rate has converged at three births per woman for women in their 20s and 30s, while Jewish women trend above three and Arab women trend below three. The average Israeli-born Jewish woman has already surpassed three births, exceeding any Middle Eastern Muslim country, other than Yemen, Iraq and Jordan, which are speedily trending downward.
Since 2001, the number of Jewish emigrants has decreasedand the number of returning expatriates has increased. Aliyah has been sustained annually since 1882, while Arab net emigration from Judea and Samaria has been a fixture since 1950.
Moreover, modernity has Westernized Muslim demography all over the Middle East, including among the Bedouin, at an unprecedented pace: enhanced women’s rights, expanded education among women, family planning (contraceptives), an all-time high median wedding age and rapidly declining teen pregnancies, urbanization, etc.
In 1967, Israel’s demographic establishment followed in the footsteps of Herzl’s and Ben-Gurion’s detractors, urging Prime Minister Levi Eshkol to evacuate Judea and Samaria, lest there be an Arab majority by 1987. On July 6, 1987, Prof. Arnon Sofer, one of Israel’s leading demographers of doom, proclaimed that an Arab majority was expected by 2000. Systematically moving the “goal posts,” Prof. Sofer warned on Aug. 3, 1988, of an Arab majority by 2008. He joined Prof. Sergio DellaPergola, a veteran demographer of doom, who on Oct. 23, 1987, dismissed any prospect of Jewish immigration from the USSR. One million Jews arrived.
The current 66% Jewish majority in the combined area of the pre-1967 Israel, Judea and Samaria would catapult to an 80% majority in 2035, if Israel pro-actively realized the aliyah window of opportunity of 500,000 Jews, in the next 10 years, from the former USSR, France, England, Germany, Argentina and the U.S.
The suggestion that Jews are doomed to become a minority between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean, and that Israel should concede geography to secure demography, is either dramatically mistaken or outrageously misleading.
This article was originally published by Israel Hayom.