According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, the most popular names for newborn boys in Israel this past year was Yosef, followed by Daniel, Uri, and Itai, while girls were most popularly named Tamar, Noa, Shira, and Adelle.
But in a story on Monday, Israeli daily Haaretz disputed the accuracy of that data – because it ignores the names of infants born in the Arab sector.
According to the newspaper, the CBS “neglected to mention that the list only included Hebrew names.” The real most popular name, Haaretz said, was actually Mohammed.
In addition, the newspaper said, “Yosef” isn't really the most popular name for Jews; the CBS actually included children named “Yusuf,” the Arabic version of Yosef, which is usually spelled the same in Hebrew. Had the Arabic names been included, Mohammed would have ranked ahead of Daniel and Yosef/Yusuf, while Ahmed would have been the ninth most popular name.
The same holds true for girls' names. At least four of the top ten names on the CBS list - Lian, Miriam (Maryam) and Maya - are used by both Jews and Arabs.
In a statement to the newspaper, Population, Immigration and Border Authority spokesman Sabine Hadad said, “the statistics published were the statistics requested during the past few years by everyone who contacted us to obtain this information, and for that reason the list relating to the most popular Hebrew names was issued."
"Contrary to the assumptions of the Haaretz newspaper, there is no plot to deliberately hide information. As proof, when your reporter asked to receive the complete list, it was given to him within a few minutes," added Hadad.
The matter of Mohammed being the most popular name may be worrying to some in terms of demographics, given an unprecedented new Jerusalem Arab building project that critics say creates a contiguous chain of Arab neighborhoods in the eastern part of the capital, threatening the demographic balance.
On the eve of 5775 (in the Jewish calendar), there are 8,904,373 registered Israeli citizens, compared to 8,730,562 at the same time last year, the CBS statistics said.
During the past year, a total of 176,230 babies were born - 90,646 boys and 85,584 girls. The statistics show a significant population boom; at this time in 2013, 160,749 babies were born in Israel, with a count of just 82,437 boys and 78,312 girls - a 9% increase overall.