By Bennett Zimmerna, Yoram Ettinger , Dr. Roberta Seid , and Dr. Michael Wise, The American-Israel Demographic Research Group (AIDRG).

Prof. Sergio DellaPergolla claims that the most probable scenario for the current Jerusalem Jewish majority (2/3) will decrease to 60% by 2020 and to minority status by 2035, unless Israel disengage itself from Arab neighborhoods. Really?

The American-Israel Demographic Research Group (AIDRG), which has exposed gross errors committed by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics and by Israel’s demographic establishment, has tested Prof. DellaPergolla�s forecast.

AIDRG projects a stabilized/increased Jewish majority in Jerusalem toward 2025 and beyond, based on the current fertility levels of the Jewish population, which now constitutes a strategic asset and not a liability. Migration of Arabs or Jews to/from the city � and not birth rate � becomes the single most important factor impacting Israel’s demographic position in and around the City. Israel would have to leverage and not give away – low density land around the city, now excluded behind the separation fence.

Contrary to forecasts made by Israel �s demographic establishment, Jewish natural growth rate is on a solid upward trend, while the Arab rate has been plunging, in Jerusalem and between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean . For the first time, since 1948, Jewish and Arab fertility rates have converged: 3.9 children per woman, compared with 4.5 children per Arab woman in 2004. Moreover, Jewish fertility rate in Greater Jerusalem is higher than the Arab rate: 4.0 in Jerusalem �s Western Suburbs and 4.7 beyond the �Green Line�. Jerusalem Jews are growing relatively-younger as Arabs are becoming relatively-older. The Jewish demographic momentum characterizes the secular sector � including the Soviet Olim – as well as the orthodox and ultra-orthodox sectors. However, while the Orthodox/ultra-Orthodox have sustained a high fertility rate for generations, the Arabs are rapidly converging toward the Israel national rate, which is typical for Third World societies interacting with Western societies. In addition, Arab death rate approaches the Jewish rate (0.3 and 0.5 respectively), following a 40 year substantial rise in life expectancy � caused by Israel�s medical system � which has expanded the ranks of elderly Arabs. The Arab natural growth rate (birth rate minus death rate) is vulnerable and falls sharply also due to shrinking Arab teen pregnancy. Thus, Jewish natural increase is a strategic asset, enhancing Israel �s capabilities to overcome demographic, territorial and political challenges, in Jerusalem , toward 2025 and beyond. In Israel �s North: Arab fertility rates have fallen to 3.0 births/woman, as the Jewish rate rises toward 2.8 births/woman

Israel’s demographic establishment failed to project the robust Jewish natural growth and the rapid pace of the decline in Arab natural growth in Jerusalem and within the �Green Line�. It was, also, grossly erroneous in assessing the number of Arabs in Judea, Samaria (70% inflated) and Gaza , in precluding a sizeable Aliya from the USSR (1MN immigrated) and in determining the number of Soviet Jews (50% error).

The establishment has reached gloom conclusions about the future of Jewish demography in Jerusalem – by presenting a dominant scenario, based on the far-reaching assumption that current Jewish emigration and Arab immigration from/to Jerusalem shall be stabilized for the next few decades. It refrains from highlighting other scenarios, such as a reversal in migration trends. The establishment has considered “Disengagement” as a panacea to demographic problems. Therefore, it has overlooked the spacious and sparsely-populated areas east of Jerusalem , which constitute a natural platform for the development of Jerusalem toward 2025 and beyond, a dream platform for city planners. The implementation of the establishment�s recommendations would accelerate Jewish emigration away from Jerusalem .

Migration has been the most critical factor, determining the Jewish-Arab demographic balance in Jerusalem , as well as between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean . Jewish emigration and Arab immigration � and not natural increase � have eroded the 2/3 Jewish majority in Jerusalem . Without the internal migration factor � 0.4% Arab immigration and 1.4% Jewish emigration � there is a virtual tie between Jewish and Arab natural increase (2.0%:2.5% respectively), which would sustain a 2/3 Jewish majority. The Jewish majority in Jerusalem grows even further with the persistent low-scale aliyah of 3,000 persons to Jerusalem each year. Furthermore, the transformation of net Jewish emigration into net Jewish immigration, via government policy, would appreciably enhance the Jewish majority.

As a result of the �Separation� and �Wall/Fence� theories which were supposed to improve security and demography, Arab immigration to Jerusalem , and into the “Green Line”, grew substantially in the opposite direction . Since 1967, 35,000-40,000 Arabs left Jerusalem to adjacent Judea & Samaria neighborhoods. However, the trend has changed when some 30,000 (former Jerusalem) Arabs returned to Jerusalem to pre-empt the Wall/Fence, in addition to about 13,000 who relocated from outside the Wall/Fence Arab neighborhoods into the area within the Wall/Fence. Further �disengagements� would disengage the city from land reserves, which are essential for long-term urban development and for the safeguarding and expansion of the Jewish majority.

Most Jewish emigrants (totaling some 6,300 in 2005, 1.4% of the Jewish population) relocate due to housing and employment shortage. They settle in Greater Jerusalem, on both sides of the �Green Line�, which attests to their wish to remain within the socio-economic-religious sphere of the city. They reflect the need to redraw Jerusalem �s municipal lines, in response to the employment and housing predicament, which has fueled Jewish emigration.


A dramatic expansion of Jerusalem �s municipal lines and of the city�s transportation, employment and housing infrastructure constitutes a prerequisite for long-term development and for the stabilization/increase of Jewish majority. There exists enough land to support possible construction of an airport, fast rail and fast road systems into the city and within the city, industrial zones (traditional and high tech), telecommunications and housing. The upgrading of current infrastructures would require expanding city limit 5-7 fold. Expanding westward alone would not provide for the infrastructure due to topographic and geographic constraints. The center of the city alone would not accommodate such an expansion either and would not utilize Jewish demography, since the fertility rate of inner city families is usually lower than suburbia folks. The sparsely-populated (mostly Judean desert) area, east of Jerusalem , is the most appropriate urbanically and demographically.

The potential for Jerusalem’s expansion “which is a prerequisite for a dramatic enhancement of Jewish immigration to the city” extends from east of Ma�aleh Adoumim to the Tequoa�-Herodion bloc in the southeast, to the outskirts of Ofra and Beit El in the northeast, to Modi�in-Kiryat Sefer through Highway 443 in the northwest and Gush Etzion and Beitar Ilit in the southwest.
The geographic extension of Jerusalem � accompanied by the current positive Jewish and Arab demographic trends � would enable Jerusalem to absorb the 90,000-100,000 Arabs (whose fertility rate is gradually Israelized), while attracting a substantially larger Jewish domestic immigration and Aliya, which would bolster Jewish majority. The potential area of extension is about 6 times the area annexed to Jerusalem following the 1967 War, which entailed the absorption of roughly 80,000 Arabs.

Engagement with � and not disengagement from – the relatively vast and sparsely-populated geography outside Jerusalem , would enable Jerusalem to transform itself from a city of Jewish emigration, job shortage and economic stagnation into a capital of immigration, job creation and economic growth.


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