Demography west of the Jordan River
In 2023, Israel is the only Western democracy endowed with a relatively high fertility rate, that facilitates further economic growth, which is not dependent upon migrant labor. Moreover, Israel’s thriving demography provides for bolstered national security (larger classes of recruits), economy and technology and a more confident foreign policy.
In 2023, contrary to projections made by the demographic establishment at the end of the 20th century and during the 1940s, Israel's Jewish fertility rate is higher than the fertility rates in all Muslim countries other than Iraq and the sub-Sahara Muslim countries.
In 2023 (based on the latest data of 2021), the Jewish fertility rate of 3.13 births per woman is higher than the 2.85 Arab fertility rate (as it has been since 2016) and the 3.01 Arab-Muslim fertility rate (as it has been since 2020).
In 2023, Israel's Jewish fertility rate is higher than any Arab country other than Iraq's.
In 2023, there is a race (which started in the 1990s) between the Jewish and Arab fertility rates, unlike the race between the Arab fertility rate and Jewish Aliyah (immigration), which took place in 1949-1990s (while the Jewish fertility rate was relatively low).
In 2023, the Westernization of Arab demography persists as a derivative of modernity, urbanization, women's enhanced social status, women's enrollment in higher education and increased use of contraceptives.
In 2023, in contrast to conventional demographic wisdom, Israel is not facing a potential Arab demographic time bomb in the combined areas of Judea, Samaria (aka the 'West Bank') and pre-1967 Israel. In fact, the Jewish State benefits from a robust tailwind of fertility rate and net-immigration.
In 2023, the demographic and policy-making establishment persists in reverberating the official Palestinian Arab numbers without due-diligence (auditing), ignoring a 100% artificial inflation of the population numbers: inclusion of overseas residenst, double-counting of Jerusalem Arabs and Israeli Arabs married to Judea and Samaria Arabs, inflated birth – and deflated death – data (as documented below).
In 2023, Israel is facing a potential wave of Aliyah (Jewish immigration) of some 500,000 Olim from the Ukraine, Russia, other former Soviet republics, France, Britain, Germany, Argentina, the USA, etc., which requires Israel to approach pro-active Aliyah policy as a top national priority.
In 2023, the Jewish demographic momentum persists (since 1995) with the secular Jewish sector making the difference, while the haredi sector is experiencing a slight decline in fertility rate.
Jewish demographic momentum
*The number of Israeli Jewish births in 2022 (137,566) was 71% higher than 1995 (80,400), while the number of Israeli Arab births in 2022 (43,417) was 19% higher than 1995 (36,500), as reported by the February 2023 Monthly Bulletin of Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics (ICBS).
*In 2022, Jewish births (137,566) were 76% of total births (180,983), compared to 69% in 1995.
*The fertility rate (number of births per woman) of Israeli secular Jewish women has trended upward during the last 25 years.
*Israeli Jewish women – who are second only to Iceland in joining the job market – are unique in experiencing a direct correlation between a rise of fertility rate, on the one hand, and a rise in urbanization, education, level of income, integration into the job market and a rise of wedding age, on the other hand.
*In 1969, Israel’s Arab fertility rate was 6 births higher than the Jewish fertility rate. In 2015, both fertility rates were at 3.13 births per woman, reflecting the dramatic Westernization of Arab demography, triggered by the enhanced social status of women, older wedding age (24), expanded participation of women in higher-education and the job market, and shorter reproductive time (25-45 rather than 16-55). According to Israel's Monthly Bulletin of Statistics, in 2021, the Jewish fertility rate was 3.13 (and 3.27 with an Israeli-born Jewish father), while the overall Arab fertility rate was 2.85 and the Muslim fertility rate was 3 (Judea and Samaria Arab fertility rate – 3.02). The average OECD fertility rate is 1.61 births per woman.
*The unique growth in Israel’s Jewish fertility rate is attributed to optimism, patriotism, attachment to Jewish roots, communal solidarity, the Jewish high regard for raising children, frontier mentality and a declining number of abortions (34% decline since 1990).
*In 2022, there were 45,271 Israeli Jewish deaths, compared to 31,575 in 1996, a 43% increase (while the size of the population almost doubled!), which reflects a society growing younger. In 2022, there were 6,314 Israeli Arab deaths, compared to 3,089 in 1996, a 104% increase, which reflects a society growing older.
In 2021, Israeli males' life expectancy was 80.5 and Israeli females – 84.6. Israel’s Arab life expectancy (78 per men and 82 per women) is higher than the US life expectancy (men – 73.2, women – 79.1). Life expectancy of Judea and Samaria Arabs: men – 74, women – 78.
*In 2022, the number of Israeli Jewish deaths was 33% of Jewish births, compared to 40% in 1995 – a symptom of a society growing younger. In 2022, the number of Israeli Arab deaths was 14.5% of Arab births, compared to 8% in 1995 – a symptom of a society growing older.
*Since 1995, the demographic trend has expanded the younger segment of Israel’s Jewish population, which provides a solid foundation for enhanced demography and economy.
*The positive Jewish demographic trend is further bolstered by Israel’s net-immigration, which consists of an annual Aliyah (Jewish immigration), reinforced by the shrinking scope of Israeli emigration: from 14,200 net-emigration in 1990 to 10,800 in 2020 (while the population doubled itself), which is higher than the 7,000 average annual net-emigration in recent years. The 2020 numbers may reflect the impact of COVID-19 on air travel.
Westernization of Arab demography
*A dramatic decline in the fertility rate from 9 births per woman in the 1960s to 3.02 births in 2022 is documented by the CIA World Factbook, which generally echoes the official Palestinian Arab numbers. It reflects the Westernization of Arab demography in Judea and Samaria, which has been accelerated by the sweeping urbanization (from a 70% rural population in 1967 to a 77% urban population in 2022), as well as the rising wedding age for women (from 15 years old to 24), the substantial use of contraceptives (70% of Arab women in Judea and Samaria) and the shrinking of the reproductive period (from 16-55 to 24-45).
*The median age of Judea and Samaria Arabs is 22 years old, compared to 18 years old in 2005.
*The Westernization of fertility rates has characterized all Muslim countries, other than the sub-Sahara region: Jordan (which is very similar to the Judea and Samaria Arabs) – 2.9 births per woman, Iran – 1.9, Saudi Arabia – 1.9, Morocco – 2.27, Iraq – 3.17, Egypt – 2.76, Yemen – 2.91, United Arab Emirates – 1.65, etc.
*The number of Arab deaths in Judea and Samaria has been systematically under-reported (for political power and financial reasons), as documented by various studies since the British Mandate. For example, a recent Palestinian population census included Arabs who were born in 1845….
Artificially-inflated Palestinian numbers
*The demographic and policy-making establishment of Israel and the West refrains from auditing the official Palestinian Arab data, and therefore it does not report the following well-documented Palestinian departure from a credible census:
*500,000overseas residents, who have been away for over a year, are included in the Palestinian Authoritiy population census. However, internationally accepted procedures stipulate only a de-facto count. It was 325,000, as stated by the Head of the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics in the aftermath of the first Palestinian census of 1997; increasing to 400,000 in 2005, as documented by the Palestinian Election Commission. The number grows daily because of overseas births.
*375,000 East Jerusalem Arabs, who possess Israeli ID cards, are doubly-counted. They are included in the Israeli census as well as in the Palestinian census. The number grows daily due to births.
*Over 150,000 Arabs from Gaza and (mostly) from Judea and Samaria, who married Israeli Arabs and received Israeli ID cards, are doubly-counted counted by Israel and by the Palestinian Authority. The number expands daily because of births.
*390,000 Arab emigrants from Judea and Samaria are not excluded from the population census of the Palestinian Authority. The latter ignores the annual net-emigration of mostly-young-Arabs from Judea and Samaria (around 17,000 annually in recent years). Net-emigration has been a systemic feature of the area, at least, since the Jordanian occupation in 1950. For example, 12,580 in 2022, 28,000 in 2021, 26,357 in 2019, 15,173 in 2017 and 16,393 in 2015, as documented by Israel’s Immigration and Population Authority, which records all Jewish and Arab exits and entries via Israel’s land, air and sea international passages.
*A 32% artificial inflation of Palestinian births was documented by the World Bank (page 8, item 6) in a 2006 audit. While the Palestinian Authority claimed an 8% increase in the number of births, the World Bank detected a 24% decrease.
*The aforementioned data documents 1.4 million Arabs in Judea and Samaria, when deducting the aforementioned documented-data (1.6 million) from the official Palestinian number (3 million).
The bottom line
*The US should derive much satisfaction from Israel's demographic viability and therefore, Israel's enhanced posture of deterrence, which is the US' top force and dollar multiplier in the Middle East and beyond.
*In 1897, there was a 9% Jewish minority in the combined area of pre-1967 Israel, Judea and Samaria, expanding to a 39% minority in 1947. In 2023, there is a 69% Jewish majority (7.5mn Jews, 2mn Israeli Arabs and 1.4mn Arabs in Judea and Samaria), benefitting from a robust demographic tailwind of births and migration.
*In contrast to conventional wisdom, there is no Arab demographic time bomb. There is, however, a robust Jewish demographic tailwind.
Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettingeris author of "Second Thought: a US-Israel Initiative" and can be reached at. https://bit.ly/40ed8nH. Yoram will be available for speaking engagements in the US during May/June 2023: Israel's contributions to the US economy & defense outweigh US foreign aid to Israel; Myth of Arab demographic time bomb; Iran - negotiation or confrontation? President Biden's Middle East policy; US pressure - testing US realism and Israeli leadership; 400-year-old roots of US-Israel kinship; Palestinian state's impact on US interests; Arab talk vs. Arab walk on Palestinians; Is the Palestinian issue the crux of the Arab-Israeli conflict and a core cause of regional turbulence? Islamic terrorists bite the hands that feed them; Middle East reality vs. Western conventional wisdom, etc.