Israel’s Jewish Demography Defies Conventions

“Israel Hayom”, http://bit.ly/16BnlKH , April 05, 2013

On March 21, 2013, President Obama stated at the Jerusalem Convention Center: “Given the demographics west of the Jordan River, the only way for Israel to endure and thrive as a Jewish and democratic state is through the realization of an independent and viable Palestine.” 

President Obama was misinformed by his advisors.  The suggestion that Israel should concede Jewish geography, in order to secure Jewish demography, ignores demographic trends in Israel, in the Muslim world in general and west of the Jordan River in particular. These trends reaffirm that time is working in favor of Israel’s Jewish demography.

In 2013, in sharp contrast with projections issued by the demographic establishment, there is a 66% Jewish majority (6.3 million Jews) in the combined area of Judea, Samaria (1.66 million Arabs) and pre-1967 Israel (1.65 million Arabs), compared with a 40% Jewish minority in 1948 and a 9% Jewish minority in 1900. The Jewish majority benefits from a robust tailwind of fertility rate and migration, which could produce an 80% Jewish majority by 2035. 

The 66% Jewish majority of 6.3 million (including 350,000 Olim not yet recognized as Jews by the Rabbinate) exposes the systematic errors of leading demographers.  In 1898, the leading Jewish demographer/historian, Simon Dubnov, projected a meager 500,000 Jews in the Land of Israel by the year 2000.  In 1944, the founder of Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics and the guru of contemporary Israeli demographers and statisticians, Prof. Roberto Bacchi, projected only 2.3 million Jews in Israel by 2001, a 34% minority. On October 23, 1987, Hebrew University’s demographer Prof. Sergio DellaPergolla, told Yediot Achronoth that no substantial Aliya was expected from the USSR, but, one million Olim arrived.  In a September, 2006 article, Prof. Sofer projected that by 2011 there would be 4.5 million Arabs in Judea and Samaria, double the number published in 2011 by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics – 2.6 million. And, in fact, the Palestinian number was inflated by one million Arabs: 400,000 overseas residents; a double count of 300,000 Jerusalem Arabs, who are counted as Israeli Arabs and as West Bankers; etc.

In defiance of demographic projections, Israel's Jewish fertility rate of three births per woman is higher than any Arab country other than Yemen, Iraq and Jordan. The modernity-driven downward trend of Muslim demography is highlighted by Iran’s fertility rate of 1.8 births per woman, Saudi Arabia’s 2.3 births and Syria’s and Egypt’s 2.9 births per woman.  The Westernization of the Muslim fertility rate was triggered by the unprecedented expansion of education among women, urbanization and family planning.  The surge of Israel’s Jewish fertility rate was triggered by high level optimism, patriotism, collective responsibility, the stable economy and attachment to roots.

In contrast with conventional wisdom, Israel’s Jewish-Arab fertility gap has been reduced from six births in 1969 to half a birth in 2012.  Moreover, the fertility rates of Jewish and Arab women in their 20s and 30s – in Judea, Samaria and pre-1967 Israel – has converged at three births per woman, with the Jewish rate trending above – and the Arab rate trending below – three births.  Furthermore, the fertility rate of Israeli-born Jewish women is already above three births per woman.

In defiance of the demographic profession, the annual number of Israel’s Jewish births has surged by 62.5% from 1995 (80,400) to 2012 (130,000), while the annual number of Israeli Arab births has been sustained at around 40,000 annually. In 1995, there were 2.3 Jewish births per 1 Arab birth; in 2012 – 3.2 Jewish births per 1 Arab birth.  In 1995 Jewish births amounted to 69% of total births; in 2012 – 77% of total births.  In 2013, the Jerusalem Jewish fertility rate is 4.2 births, compared with the 3.9 Arab fertility rate.

Contrary to political correctness, Israel’s Jewish fertility rate is surging at a time when the fertility rate of the ultra-orthodox sector declines, due to its growing integration into the employment market and military service. The surge in fertility is produced by Israel’s secular Jews, and mostly by the yuppies around Tel Aviv and the Olim (immigrants) from the former USSR.

David Goldman, author of How Civilizations Die, wrote: “the stronger the Jewish commitment, the more likely Jews are to have children. Living in the Land of Israel is one of the strongest manifestations of Jewish commitment…. As unique as the Jews are among the world's people, their fertility in Israel is also unique among the nations, and cause for optimism about the future of the Jewish people (inFocus, Spring, 2013, The Jewish Policy Center).”

Anyone suggesting that Jews are doomed to become a minority west of the Jordan River is either dramatically mistaken or outrageously misleading.