Cutting the Demographic Cake

A different and non distorted perspective on the issue of the so-called "looming demographic crisis" in Israel.

Dr. Moshe Dann

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Opponents of Israel's legal and historical rights to Judea and Samaria – by definition, "the Left" contend that Israel faces a "demographic crisis;" the Arab population between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River will soon outnumber that of the Jews,
In fact, using the demographic argument, therefore, Israel should annex Area C.
and the nature of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state is in danger, say Israeli demographers Sofer and DelaPergola.. This perspective is politically motivated in order to distort the picture.

(To see interview with deputy head of the Judea and Samria Council on the accuracy of these figures and the same demographers' past predictions, click here.)


Looking at the entire population between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River, using the demographic argument, the situation looks grim, with Jews and Arabs almost equal. When the areas are seen as discrete, however, the perspective changes, and the alleged demographic threat dissipates.  


The fact is that today, nearly all non-Israeli Palestinians living in Judea, Samaria and Gaza are under the PA, with PA and/or Jordanian passports. The Gaza Strip, under Hamas, a designated terrorist organization, is a separate entity, with its own army and administration, supported by the PA, but opposed to its controlling group, Fatah. "The occupation," therefore, at least that since 1967, refers to territory, not people.


According to the Oslo Accords, Judea and Samaria was divided into three regions: A (under total PA control); B (under PA civilian control); C (under Israeli control). No Jews reside in areas A and B (comprising an estimated million-and-a-half residents); all Jewish communities/settlements (over 300,000 Jews) are in area C, along with about a few tens of thousands of Arab Palestinians (there are no accurate figures). In addition, over 200, 000 Jews live in new neighborhoods of Jerusalem establish after 1967; these areas have already been virtually annexed.


If the entire area of Judea and Samaria is considered as a single unit, the demographic argument looks overwhelming. But, when the areas are separated – viewing area C alone, as distinctly Jewish – the perspective is quite different; there is no demographic threat.


In fact, using the demographic argument, therefore, Israel should annex Area C.


The "demographic argument" was used to convince former-PM Yitzhak Rabin to agree to the Oslo Accords, and was promoted by the dominant Left-wing media, former-PMs  Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert, Israeli ministers and politicians, and PM Netanyahu. There's only one problem: it's a myth, part of a campaign to destroy the settlement movement; it has been thoroughly refuted. (and here) (and here)


If demographics is so important, we should be concerned about large concentrations of Arabs reside in pre-1967 Israel (many of whom consider themselves Palestinians and oppose Israel's existence) – primarily in the Negev and the Galilee.


Using demographic arguments to promote the withdrawal of Jewish communities from Judea, Samaria, and eastern Jerusalem, and creating another Arab Palestinian state, may temporarily resolve the false charge of "occupation" because Jewish refugees are a non-issue, but it will not alleviate Israel's problems with its Arab communities, will exacerbate social tensions in Israel, and will likely lead to Israel's demise.


The argument that withdrawal is necessary to "preserve Israel's Jewish character," moreover, is vague, and contradicts their  support for including of hundreds of thousands of non-Jews, Arabs, Africans, and others seeking to live in Israel. Concern for the humanitarian rights of illegal immigrants seems to trump maintaining Israel's Jewish identity.


Moreover, an estimated several hundreds of thousands of immigrants from FSU who are not Jewish, many with no connection to Judaism, were given citizenship. Although many of them serve in the IDF and have applied for conversion, this is a controversial issue between those who expect sincere commitment according to Jewish law, and those who demand less, or none at all.


In other words, demographic arguments, including questions like, "Who Is A Jew?" and "What is Israelism?" are complicated societal issues which cannot be resolved, or understood by simplistic notions, manipulating statistics, and hyping scare tactics.


There is no crisis, nor urgency to abandon Judea and Shomron in order to save the State of Israel. It's political bluff. In fact, given realistic assessments of the threat a Palestinian state poses to Israel, the most reasonable solution is to leave things as they are.


For those who hear a "ticking demographic time-bomb," I would recommend a good psychiatrist. %ad%