Yoram Ettinger
Yoram Ettinger Israel news photo: BostonforIsrael.org

The American-Israel Demographic Research Group (AIDRG) shows that the numbers continue to tell a different demographic story than the one that pro-Palestinian elements wish to ensconce in the public consciousness.

Yoram Ettinger, head of the group's Israeli research desk, a consultant on American-Israeli relations and a former liaison to Congress in Israel's Washington Embassy, recently presented the latest findings to an audience in Jerusalem. The name of the presentation speaks for itself: "Bursting the Demographic Bubble: From Baseless Demographic Fatalism to Documented Demographic Optimism."

A perpetual theme running throughout the presentation is that the PCBS (Palestinian Authority Central Bureau of Statistics) exaggerates the number of Arabs in its territory in a number of ways. The latest census includes some 400,000 overseas residents, adds 200,000 Jerusalem Arabs who are also counted as Israeli-Arabs and ignores some 200,000 emigrants since 1997. The World Bank documents a 32 percent gap between the number of Arab births given by the PCBS and that provided by the PA's Ministry of Health and confirmed by its Ministry of Education. 

It is with methods such as these, Ettinger says, that the PA is able to jack up its total numbers in Judea, Samaria and Gaza to some 4.3 million Arabs - falsely convincing many to support the need for a Palestinian state - when in fact there are no more than 2.8 million.

In addition, the PA takes the "assumed" numbers, adds it to the 1.4 million Israeli-Arabs, and states that the total number of Arabs west of the Jordan River is practically the same as the number of Jews.

The AIDRG shows, however, that in fact, a 2-1 majority of Jews has been consistently maintained.

The PCBS partially based its numbers and projections on an assumption of mass immigration into Judea, Samaria and Gaza. In 1997, it forecast an immigration of 45,000 each year, beginning in 2001.  However, in fact, border crossings data showed not only that Arabs were not moving into Judea and Samaria, but they also were actually moving out - in record numbers. In 2004, 10,000 left; 16,000 in 2005; 25,000 in each of 2006 and 2007; and 28,000 more 2008. Thus, the PCBS included, over the last ten years, an annual increase of 60-70,000 Arabs that actually never occurred.

The AIDRG's "Arab Population in the West Bank and Gaza: The Million Person Gap" was presented at the January 2006 Herzliya Conference. The
Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies published the Study in February 2006. The original study can be found at <www.aidrg.com>.

Other important aspects of the latest study:

* The Arab fertility rate has declined 20 years faster than projected. In
Judea and Samaria, Arab fertility has decreased below 4.5 births per woman. 

* There has been a 50 percent rise in annual Israeli Jewish births during 1995-2009 (from 80,400 to 121,000), while the number of annual Arab births stabilized (39,000). The gap in births-per-woman between Arabs and Jews has dropped ten-fold, from six in 1969 to 0.6 in 2009.

* In Jerusalem, the Arab-Jewish fertility rates have converged at 3.9 births per woman, for the first time since 1948. 

Israel has benefited from annual Aliyah (immigration) since 1882 - yet since 1948, Israel’s demographers have projected no Aliyah waves.

In sum, Ettinger states, "There is a demographic problem, but it is not lethal. The demographic trend is Jewish. Anyone claiming that Israel must concede geography in order to secure demography is either mistaken or misleading."  

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