There is now almost unanimous rejection of the “two-state solution” — the creation of a sovereign Palestinian state on any part of the former west bank of the Hashemite Kingom of Transjordan (Judea and Samaria). Regional violence and terror has made it clear to almost all objective observers that a Palestinian state would ultimately fall into the hands of terrorist entities such as Hamas, Fatah, ISIS, Hezbollah or al-Qaeda, and would result in a catastrophic conflict.
The “one-state” alternative, according to which Israel declares sovereignty over Judea and Samaria, would — say both well-meaning friends of Israel and its enemies — immediately or shortly thereafter create an Arab-majority state, ridding the country of its Jewish identity. Furthermore, it has been said, failure to grant full citizenship to all residents of the West Bank would turn Israel into an “apartheid state.”
Politicians on the Right and Left warn that if Israel declares sovereignty over Judea and Samaria, it would face a demographic catastrophe, either as a result of the current Arab majority west of the Jordan River, or because of Arab fertility rates.
These warnings are based on the efforts of fake demographers with faulty and even deliberately skewed analyses, however. Back in the 1980’s, highly acclaimed Israeli demographer Sergio DellaPergola declared that, within a few short years, there would be an Arab majority inside Green Line Israel. DellaPergola, a professor of statistics and demography at the Hebrew University, followed in the tradition of his professor and mentor, Roberto Bachi, who in 1947 advised David Ben-Gurion not to declare a sovereign Jewish state. He warned that there was no way that a Jewish state with fewer than 650,000 Jews could survive in a sea of 1.3 million Arabs west of the Jordan River. The other promoter of fake demography, Arnon Soffer, a professor of geography at Haifa University, declared in 2000 that there was already an Arab majority west of the Jordan River.
I walked out of a meeting with Soffer in 2003 shaking, thoroughly convinced that Israel faced an imminent demographic catastrophe. Soffer told me that he spoke weekly with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, and took credit for the barrier separating Green Line Israel from the West Bank. He explained that it was neither a border nor a security barrier, but rather a demographic one, to prevent the Arab majority from overwhelming the Jewish state.
As chance would have it, shortly thereafter Yoram Ettinger introduced me to Bennett Zimmerman, who had embarked on an independent endeavor to learn the facts about the demography of Judea and Samaria. I joined Bennett on this exciting journey. We discovered that a great fraud had been promulgated on the Israel political establishment by fake demographers. Our research (published by the BESA Center think tank at Bar-Ilan University) revealed that, as of December 2004, there were 1.41 million Arabs in the West Bank and 1.08 million in Gaza and not — as DellaPergola and Soffer were claiming — 2.42 million in the West Bank and 1.41 million in Gaza.
In January of 2005, we presented our findings to the American Enterprise Institute, whose leading demographer, Nicholas Eberstadt, verified them. We were then summoned to present them to Knesset committees, alongside DellaPergola and Soffer. After numerous public debates with them, they formally acknowledged that they had never engaged in any independent research; they simply accepted the fallacious statistics of the Palestinian Authority — which, of course, has a great interest in exaggerating the number of its residents.
Nor were DellaPergola and Soffer the only ones to be duped by the PA’s fake numbers. Israeli politicians and members of the military — many of whom supported the two-state solution — also subscribed to them, as did the CIA and US State Department. (We were informed by officials that the Washington establishment’s policy was not to contradict numbers released by local “government” agencies.)
Initially, our research and conclusions were not analyzed, and we were accused of being “amateurs,” “dilettantes” and “pseudo demographers.” Though it is true that I am a quantum physicist and not a demographer, our work was quite basic. With a valid starting point (in our case, the data released until December 1995 by the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics, a globally recognized professional entity), one can calculate the population using simple arithmetic. We also used quarterly Israel border-crossing records and birth and death data from Palestinian health organizations.
Still, DellaPergola and Soffer tried to cast aspersions on our findings on the grounds that they were “politically motivated.” Ultimately, however, they were forced by the facts to admit privately and even, occasionally, publicly, that we were correct.
This did not prevent them from continuing to proclaim that a demographic catastrophe was looming, due to the “fact” that Arab women were having at least eight children apiece. This was reminiscent of PLO chief Yasser Arafat’s threat that the Arab womb would vanquish the Jewish state.
Yet, since 2005, anybody conducting a Google search will discover that Jewish fertility rates in Israel are unmatched in the developed world — currently exceeding 3.15 children per woman — while Arab fertility rates in Israel and the West Bank have been following regional and global patterns, plummeting to well below three children per woman. Indeed, as Arab births in Israel in the past 20 years have remained at about 39,500 annually, Jewish births have linearly increased from 80,000 per year to 139,500 last year.
Today, there are 6.8 million Jews and 1.7 million non-Jews — including Arab Muslims, Christians and Druse — in Green Line Israel. Every year, Ettinger and I gather the data, and a simple calculation results in a maximum of 1.7 million Arabs on the West Bank.
Policy-makers must understand that fake demographic numbers will lead to uninformed policies. Ben-Gurion’s courageous decision to declare Jewish sovereignty in 1948 can now be contemplated in 2017, without the genuine demographic dangers he had to confront. There is now a strong tailwind of positive Jewish demographic momentum.