Daily Israel Report
Show More

OpEds


Arab Births Down, Jewish Births Up: No Demographic Threat

Recent statistical studies confirm a drop in Arab population and birthrates, and an increase in Jewish population and birthrates.
By Nissan Ratzlav-Katz
First Publish: 11/13/2007, 7:41 AM

Recent statistics presented by the Israeli
A World Bank study revealed a dramatic gap between the PA's official predictions of population growth and the actual numbers of children.
Central Bureau of Statistics (ICBS) and the World Bank confirm the assessment of the American-Israel Demographic Research Group (AIDRG)  that the demographic balance in the Land of Israel is not a threat to the Jewish majority at all; in fact, predictions of Arab population growth in the Palestinian Authority have been grossly overstated, with Jewish birthrates in pre-1967 Israel consistently increasing and Arab birthrates consistently dropping.

'Demography is a Strategic Asset' 
In an article by AIDRG lead researcher Yoram Ettinger, in conjunction with Bennett Zimmerman, Michael Wise and Roberta Seid, the team present what they consider to be the "bottom line" of their statistical study:

"Israel's demographic establishment has been dramatically wrong: Demography constitutes a strategic asset, not a liability."

"The claim that Jews are doomed to become a minority, between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean, is in direct contradiction of demographic reality. Such a claim has yielded demographic fatalism, which has dominated Israel's academic, media, political and security sectors. It has become a basis for critical national security decisions. However, demographic fatalism is a suicidal prescription - especially in the Middle East - and it has been nurtured by grossly erroneous assumptions. Grossly erroneous assumptions produce grossly erroneous policies.

"There is a demographic problem, but it is not lethal. Moreover, the demographic momentum is Jewish and not Arab.... Anyone contending that there is a demographic machete at the throat of the Jewish State is either drastically mistaken or outrageously misleading!"

The AIDRG article appeared in the October edition of Mabat, a publication of Israel's Intelligence Center.

Inside Pre-1967 Israel
In demographic information made public this month by the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics (ICBS), the decline in Arab fertility rates within the 1967 borders (the Green Line) has been shown to exceed the ICBS's own predictions by 20 years. Similarly, the
"Contending that there is a demographic machete at the throat of the Jewish State is either drastically mistaken or outrageously misleading!"
latest ICBS statistics show a Jewish fertility rate that is higher than the ICBS's most generous forecasts.

According to the ICBS study, released on November 5, the Jewish birthrate has increased in pre-1967 Israel from 2.6 to 2.8 during the period from 1996 to 2006. During the same period, Muslim Arabs have seen a drop in birthrates from 4.7 to 4.0, with the Druze population's fertility rates dropping slightly further (from 3.4 to 2.6) and Christian Arabs showing a lower rate of decline (from 2.7 to 2.2).

According to Ettinger and the AIDRG, "Since 1948, the ICBS has tended to under-project Jewish fertility, over-project Arab fertility, ignore the scope of Arab emigration and minimize the scope of potential Jewish Aliya (immigration). It has also overlooked the fact that Jewish demography has not been normative, and certainly not Western in nature.  Moreover, the ICBS ignored the fact that Jews and Arabs have reacted differently to unusual economic and military developments."

Judea, Samaria and Gaza
A World Bank study revealed a dramatic gap between the PA's official predictions of population growth and the actual numbers of children registered for first grade. According to the World Bank researchers, the discrepancy is due to a drop in Arab birthrates and an increase in Arab emigration from Judea, Samaria and Gaza.

Looking at the education system in the Palestinian Authority, the study showed that there had been an 8 percent drop as of September 2006 in the number of children registered for school through fifth grade. This was in sharp opposition to the PA's official forecast of a 24% increase in registered students by September 2006.

The statistical gap between PA predictions and demographic reality on the ground demonstrated by the World Bank would seem to confirm the AIDRG claim that the PA Central Bureau of Statistics is presenting highly significant inaccuracies. In the Mabat article, Yoram Ettinger noted:

"The projections published by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) have been refuted, annually, by the Palestinian ministries of health and education and election commission, as well as by the European observers at the Rafiah international passage, Jordan's Central Bureau of Statistics and Israel's Border Police (which acts similarly to the INS in the USA)."