Latest update: August 25th, 2013
As Minister Tzipi Livni et al are ending their second week of negotiations over how many Jews to expel from Judea and Samaria in order to receive from the Arabs recognition of our right to exist, new figures have emerged that might explain the sudden urge of Livni and the Israeli left to finish this thing quickly, set it in motion and be done with it.
It turns out the “demographic bomb” everyone, from President Obama to the lowliest lackey at J-Street, have been warning Israel about, does not exist. Or rather, there used to be a bomb, but events and the economy and whatnot have turned it into a pitiful firecracker.
Not only are there more Jews than Arabs in the entire territory between the Jordan River and the sea, but the Jewish numbers are becoming even greater, while the Arab numbers are in the dumps.
Dr. Guy Bechor recently published an explanation of a demographic study by Jacob Feitelson, using data from Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics. The report compares Jewish to Arab birthrates in Judea and Samaria, as well as Israeli vs. Palestinian Authority demographics as a whole.
The article was written in response to Israel’s Minister of Justice Tzipi Livni’s distress at what she believes is the demographic threat to the Jewish state, and why Israel must rush to disengage from Judea and Samaria to maintain a Jewish majority.
The report shows that the demographic predictions that Livni has been basing her decisions on is incorrect.
The original report can be read here.
1. Arabs across the Middle East and especially in Judea and Samaria are experiencing a collapse of their birthrate, from an average of 8 children per mother down to fewer than 3. The reasons are the rise in education and in income, and urbanization (smaller apartments, fewer children).
2. The most significant finding in the data are settler related births.
Unlike Arab and even Haredi birth levels—which are going down, too, settler birth levels are not dropping off, but, instead, rising.
In 1997, Arab births in Judea and Samaria were at 4.76 children per mother compared to the settler’s 4.69. But by 2011 that number changed significantly, with 5.07 births per Jewish settler mother versus only 3.06 per Arab mother. The difference between the two became even larger in 2012.
Within pre-1967 Israel, Jewish birth-rates are currently around 3 children per mother, but the fashionable thing is increasingly to have 4 children per family.
Altogether, out of 8.15 million residents in all of Israel, 6 million are Jews, 6.5 if you count family members who are not themselves Jewish. According to Bechor, at the current birth rate of 1 million every 7 years, Israel will hit 2 digits in 15 years, with the vast majority being Jewish.
3. The report pointed out another common error of previous demographic studies: overlooking the effects of the Oslo Accords on Arab demographics.
The Oslo Accords introduced 40,000 foreign PLO Arabs into Yesha (Judea, Samaria and Gaza) from overseas, and Israel granted “family unification” to another 140,000 Arabs who became Israeli citizens. This added a significant, but temporary increase to the Arab demographic data.
In addition, in 2003 Israel introduced a massive cut in child subsidies (it just did it again this week), ending a situation in which having children was, to some Arab families, a very real source of income. The fact that the Arab birthrate plummeted following the cut suggests the policy, though unkind, achieved the intended results.
4. Another important factor is immigration and emigration.
Israel receives around 18,000 new immigrants a year (including 15,000 who leave and return), whereas Arab emigration is currently around 10,000 Arabs a year, with some years as much as 18,000-25,000 leaving each year. In 2007, Jordanian data indicated that 60,000 Arabs had left Judea and Samaria.
Another figure not commonly discussed regarding Israeli emigration is that 15% of the emigrants are Israeli Arabs.
The number of Arab emigrants from Gaza has declined in recent years due to Egypt’s blocking of its border with Gaza.
Most of the Arabs leaving Judea and Samaria are looking for work in other countries.
5. The Palestinian Authority keeps changing its demographic forecasts, coming up with more and more exaggerated figures (4 so far), knowing full well that if it gave an honest accounting of its 1.5 million—and shrinking—population in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, it would no longer be able to scare the Jews and the world into new concessions.
Finally, there are some psychological facts that cannot be measured but can certainly be assessed from these figures. A high birthrate means optimism, says Dr. Bechor. We have in Israel today an optimistic public, involved in the ongoing effort to increase families and the nation. A high birthrate also means an expectation of prosperity. It also means that aliyah, although still in modest numbers – around 20 thousand a year – is nevertheless constant and offers yet another optimistic note.
The only segment of Israeli society that is not experiencing this optimistic growth is the left, which has, basically, given up the hope of leading Israeli politics in the foreseeable future. The only hope they have of getting back in the saddle has been laid out by Minister Tzipi Livni in a Kol Israe interview this week: Naftali Bennett and Jewish Home, which are the enemies of a land-for-peace solution, should leave government, and Labor should take their place. That’s the scenario.
They don’t have the numbers, of course, they were relegated by a solid, right wing public to the basement of decision making history – but they still have Benjamin Netanyahu.
Stephen Leavitt contributed to this report.
About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.
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