Demographic Misrepresentation

Examine No Evil, Know No Evil, Report No Evil,

Yoram Ettinger, “Nekuda”, 1.2007

The American-Israel Demographic Research Group revealed that Israel’s demographic, media and political establishments have embraced the 1997 Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) census and projections – as the Gospel – without scrutiny.

They were unaware that the PCBS numbers have been refuted annually by the documentation of births, deaths, migration and eligible voters, as carried out by the Palestinian Ministries of Health and Education, by the Palestinian Election Commission, by Israel’s Border Police, by Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics (ICBS) and by Jordan’s Central Bureau of Statistics.

Israel’s demographic establishment was oblivious of the fact that PCBS data were projections – and not documented numbers – based on a 1997 census. If the establishment was cognizant of these facts, but did not report to the public and to policy-makers, then it was not mistaken, but rather misleading.

The demographic establishment did not question the addition of some 650,000 Palestinians (30%!) as a result of the 1997 census. If the establishment would base its projections on the ICBS (2.1 million Arabs in Judea, Samaria and Gaza in January, 1997), it would be mathematically impossible to reach – as the establishment does – 3.5 million or 4 million in 2006. It would have required a population growth rate twice as high as the four fastest growing populations in the world, Afghanistan, Somalia, Eritrea and Niger. Israel’s “Demographers of Doom” did not raise an eyebrow when the PCBS contended a 170% population growth in 14 years, from 1.5 million in 1990 to 3.8 million in Judea, Samaria and Gaza in 2004. They were either ignorant of the massive immigration assumption – 50,000 annually into Judea, Samaria and Gaza beginning 2001 – or recklessly accepted it at face value, in spite of the eruption of Intifadah II at the end of 2000, which precluded any potential immigration. They did not examine, and therefore did not know and did not report.


The American-Israel Demographic Research Group (AIDRG), whose groundbreaking study was published by the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, has uncovered a number of significant flaws in the PCBS numbers, which were unnoticed and therefore not reported by Israel’s demographic establishment. AIDRG has shed light on the reckless use of such flawed information by Israel’s demographic, media and political establishments, which has gravely impacted the national state of (fatalistic) mind and morale as well as critical policy decisions. For example:

    1. PCBS data are perceived, by Israel, as real numbers, while in fact they are mere projections, which have been refuted annually. The projections have been made on the basis of a 1997 census, which has been accepted – by the Israeli and global establishments – at face value without examination.

    2. 325,000 overseas Palestinians were included the 1997 census, as documented by Hassan Abu-Libdeh, then head of the PCBS (Feb. 26, 1998) and by the PCBS website. The inclusion of these overseas residents departs from globally acceptable demographic standards, which include only de-facto residents and those who are away for less than a year. Thus, Israel does not count some 700,000 Israelis, who reside in North America. The number of overseas residents, which are unduly counted by the PCBS is increasing by the day, since overseas Palestinians who are counted, as if they were de-facto residents, give birth to overseas babies who are counted as well.

    3. Over 200,000 Jerusalem Arabs – within Israel controlled boundaries – are doubly-counted as Israeli Arabs (by the ICBS) and as West Bank Arabs (by the PCBS). Independent demographers, international bureau of statistics, the UN, the State Department and other organizations, add the PCBS and ICBS figures, in order to find out the number of Arabs between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean, hence the double-count. Such an error grows exponentially with each additional birth.

    4. 113,000 Persons should be deleted due to a discrepancy between the number of eligible voters (18 and older) in the PA as projected by the PCBS and documented by the PA Election Commission during the January 2005 election.

    5. Over 300,000 babies who were projected to be born (according to PCBS projections, which were misperceived as actual births), but were never born (according to Palestinian Ministry of Health documentation) should be removed from the total. The Ministry of Health has documented babies down to the level of village midwives, with no incentive to under-document. Each birth entails monetary compensation from the PA and sometimes from UNRAW and other entities.

    6. Over 350,000 should be deducted as a result of non-realized projected-immigration (50,000 annually since 2001) and realized non-projected-emigration since 1997 (when census was conducted and projections made). The scope of average annual emigration has been over 10,000 since 1950, some 12,000 in 2004, 16,000 in 2005 and a higher estimate for 2006 (due to Hamas’ ascension to power). Since 2000 most of the emigrants are Moslems.

    7. 105,000 should be removed from the total due to the 105,000 Palestinians, who married Israeli Arabs, received Israeli ID cards (since 1997), and are therefore double-counted as Israeli Arabs (by the ICBS) and West Bank Arabs (by the PCBS).


While the PCBS projected 4 million Arabs in Judea, Samaria and Gaza in 2006, the documented number is 2.6 million (1.5 million in Judea & Samaria and 1.1 million in Gaza), when one deletes (from the PCBS projection) overseas Palestinians who are included, the double-count of Jerusalem Arabs and of naturalized Palestinians, the babies who were projected to be born but have never been born (40,000 annually since 2000), the projected-immigrants who never arrived and the non-projected-emigrants who left, and the eligible voters who have been projected to exist but have never existed.

In contrast to Israel’s “Prophets of Demographic Doom”, the American-Israel Demographic Research Group ( documents a robust long-term Jewish majority of 67% west of the Jordan River without Gaza and 60% with Gaza since the 1960s. The Jewish majority in the 1960s was relatively soft, due to the 1967 initiation of unprecedented increase in Palestinian population growth: A poor agrarian society interacted with Israel’s advanced medicine, job market and education system, which dramatically reduced Palestinian infant mortality and extended life expectancy, and substantially decreased the number of emigrants seeking jobs and higher education abroad. Today’s Jewish majority is relatively solid as a result of a sustained decline in Palestinian population growth rate, mostly due to emigration. In addition, the Palestinian Ministry of Health documents an all time high family planning, a hike in divorce rate and in the median marriage-age, expanded education system and career mentality (among women), and a rapid transformation from a rural to (mostly poor) urban society. The systematic decline in total fertility rate (number of children per woman) in recent years has been characteristic of Moslem, Arab and other Third World societies. For instance, Iran declined in 25 years from 10 to 1.98 children per woman and Egypt and Jordan followed suit with 2.5 and 3 children respectively. In fact, the UN Population Division had to reassess its 2050 global population projection from 12 billion to 9 billion.


Since Israel’s establishment in 1948, Israel’s demographic establishment has tended to under-project Jewish fertility, over-project Arab fertility, ignore the scope of Arab emigration, minimize the potential of Jewish Aliya (immigration), and overlook the difference in Jewish-Arab demographic attitudes in response to irregular events. To illustrate, an outcome of the recent economic prosperity has been a higher Jewish fertility (unlike Western societies) and a lower Arab fertility (just like other westernized Third World societies).

Thus, the initial dramatic error by Israel’s demographic establishment – relying on PCBS data without examination – has been compounded by the application of projections made in 2000 by Israel Central Bureau of Statistics (ICBS), which have been refuted annually by ICBS own documented statistics. Jewish total fertility rate has been annually above ICBS’ highest scenario, and the decline in Arab total fertility rate has been 20 year faster than projected!

The “Prophets of Demographic Doom” have also ignored the non-normative features of Jewish demography, the non-linear tenets of Jewish and regional demographics, and the large number of unpredictable developments in and without the region, which have impacted the Jewish-Arab demographic balance between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean. Hence, the rise in price of oil in the 1970s accelerated Palestinian emigration, its decline in the 1980s slowed down emigration, the 1991 expulsion of 300,000 Palestinians from Kuwait produced a brief rare net immigration, improved economy among Palestinians in the Mideast and Central America induces further emigration, the rise of Hamas triggers further emigration, the demise of the USSR facilitated a major Aliya (immigration) to Israel as has the rise of anti-Semitism in France, Argentina and Russia, the vast expansion of modern-orthodox Jewish/Zionist education system has upgraded the potential of Aliya from the US, etc.

The “Prophets of Demographic Doom” have been serial blunderers. In March 1898, Shimon Dubnov, a leading Jewish historian-demographer harnessed demographic fatalism, in order to deter Herzl, who launched the campaign to establish the Jewish State. Dubnov projected that by 2000 there will be, at most, 500,000 Jews west of the Jordan River, about the size of the Jewish community in Kiev. However, in 2000 there were 5 million Jews west of the Jordan River! In 1940, Professor Bacchi, a world renowned statistician-demographer, the founder of the ICBS, and the godfather of Israel’s current “Demographers of Doom”, projected that by 1970 there will be 1 million Jews and 4 million Arabs. But, in 1970 there were 2.6 million Jews and 1.4 million Arabs west of the Jordan River. In 1948, Prof. Bacchi attempted to persuade Ben Gurion to postpone declaration of independence until Jewish demography (600,000) improves, lest there be a Jewish minority in 1967 within the mini-1947 borders. But, in 1967 there was a 14% Arab minority within the expanded-1949 borders! In 1967, the demographic establishment pressured Prime Minister Eshkol to retreat from Judea & Samaria and Gaza, in order to avoid an Arab majority west of the Jordan River by 1987. But, in 1987 there was a 62.4% Jewish majority, compared with a 63.35% majority in 1967, during the peak of Arab population growth rate. In 1949, Prof. Bacchi contended that there would be no Aliya to the poor, conflict-ridden Jewish State. But, about 1 million Olim (immigrants) arrived. In 1972, he projected an insignificant Aliya from the USSR, but 140,000 arrived.

Professor Sergio DellaPergola, a senior member of Israel’s demographic establishment, has followed in the footsteps of his mentor, Prof. Bacchi. In the mid-1980s, he stated that there would be no substantial Aliya from the USSR for economic, cultural, technological and security reasons. He estimated the number of Soviet Jews at 50% of their documented number. But, one million Jews arrived from the USSR! Today, Prof. DellaPergola employs refuted-PCBS 1997 projections as a basis for his own projections, as documented by his most comprehensive essay in the “American Jewish Yearbook, 2003”, published by the American Jewish Committee. If Prof. DellaPergola would have employed ICBS data (2.1 million in Judea & Samaria and Gaza in 1997), as a basis for his numbers, he would not have been able – mathematically – to reach 3.4 million in 2004, as claimed by his presentations. Moreover, he applies ICBS projections, from 2000, to his PCBS-driven numbers, in spite of the fact that the ICBS projections have been crashed against the rocks of reality since their publication in 2000. In contrast to AIDRG’s data-driven approach, Professor DellaPergola has employed assumptions/projections-driven approach.

Professor Arnon Sofer, another “Prophet of Doom”, stated in closed-door April 2004 lecture, at Israel’s military academy, that 2.8 million Palestinians resided in Judea & Samaria and Gaza. However, that number catapulted to 3.8 million, in October 2004, in a booklet he published at Haifa University (“Israel and Demography 2000-2004 in view of Disengagement”), which aimed at promoting “Disengagement.” In a January 21, 2005 closed-door document, which he submitted to the Knesset Government Reforms (Bikoret Hamedina) Committee, Prof. Sofer reverted to 2.8 million. However, during a May 18, 2005 public debate at Haifa University he resorted to 3 million and 3.4 million, and in Ynet OpEds, published on January 24, 2006 (lobbying for further retreat from Judea & Samaria) and on September 14, 2006 Professor Sofer contended 3.7 million and 4 million respectively.


In contrast to the “Prophecies of Demographic Doom”, which have instilled faintheartedness into Israel’s public, political, media and academic state of mind, the demographic momentum is Jewish!

According to ICBS data, the annual number of Arab births within the “Green Line” has stagnated during 1995-2006 around 38,000, while the annual number of Jewish births rose by 35% from 80,400 in 1995 to around 109,000 in 2006. The proportion of Jewish births has increased from 69% (of total birth within the “Green Line”) in 1995 to 75% in 2006. For the first time, total fertility rate of Jewish and Arab women, in Jerusalem, have converged at 3.9 children per woman, with the Arab fertility trending downward and Jewish rate creeping upward. The Arab-Jewish fertility gap shrunk from 6 children during the 1960s to 1 child in 2006! In fact, Jewish fertility rate in Israel is the highest in the industrialized world, while the decline in Arab fertility rate has been 20 year faster than projected by the ICBS. Due to the substantial Arab emigration from Judea & Samaria, the Jewish population growth rate has been higher – since 1997 – than the Arab growth rate in Judea & Samaria (2.1%:1.8% during 1997-2004). The Jewish demographic momentum is bolstered when one adds the migration factor (Aliya less Jewish emigration plus Jewish returnees), which is about 15,000 since 2001. The “Prophets of Demographic Doom” have overlooked the Jewish demographic momentum, and have employed the irrelevant fertility rates of “yesterday”, as a basis for projecting “tomorrow’s” rates.

Israel’s “Prophets of Demographic Doom” have insisted that time has been working against Jewish demography, and that Jews are doomed to become a minority between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean. They have convinced Israel’s political establishment, and many of Israel’s friends abroad, that the demographic threat is lethal and more significant than historical and security considerations, in determining the future of Judea & Samaria.

Paradoxically, Zionist leaders rejected demographic fatalism when the Jews constituted a mere 8% minority (Herzl – 1900) and a 33% minority (Ben Gurion – 1947). However, the current Israeli political establishment has succumbed to Demographobia in 2006, when Jews constitute a long-term solid 40 year 67% majority without Gaza and 60% with Gaza, west of the Jordan River. They have ignored the fact that demographic reality has refuted demographic fatalism!

Demographic reality has vindicated early Zionist leaders, who persisted in their drive to establish a Jewish State, in defiance of awesome security, financial, political and demographic odds. Now, when Jewish majority has reached a critical demographic mass – bolstered by unprecedented military, financial and technological capabilities – there is no justification for Demographobia. Certainly, there is no reason to sacrifice historical, geographic, topographic and security assets on the altar of grossly-flawed demographic assumptions. A national security policy, which is based on flawed assumptions, is doomed to be flawed, jeopardizing the survival of the Jewish State.


INDEPENDENT of the American-Israel Demographic Research Group’s study (

    1. Critical Israeli policy decisions have been based on the assumption that Jews are doomed to become a minority west of the Jordan River. But, what if demographic fatalism has been based on dramatically erroneous data?! What if such wrong data has been embraced by Israel’s demographic, media and political establishments without examination?!

    2. The conventionally accepted number of Arabs in Judea & Samaria is inflated by 70% (1.5MN and not 2.5MN), and the number of Arabs in Judea & Samaria and Gaza is inflated by over 50% (2.7MN and not 4MN).

    3. A solid long-term Jewish majority of 67% without Gaza and 60% with Gaza has prevailed between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean since the 1960s, compared with a Jewish minority of 33% in 1947 and 8% in 1900.

    4. The Jewish majority benefits from a demographic momentum, as evidenced by the 35% rise in the number of annual Jewish births since 1995, while the number of annual Arab births has stagnated during the same period.

    5. Since 1997, Jewish population growth rate has been higher than Judea & Samaria Arabs’, especially due to the substantial level of Arab emigration – over 10,000 annual average since 1950 – while annual Jewish Aliya (immigration) has persisted since 1882.

    6. The Jewish State endures a demographic problem, but it is far from lethal; there is no demographic machete over its throat.

    7. The contention that Israel must retreat from Jewish Geography (Judea & Samaria), in order to secure Jewish Demography (Geography-for-Demography) is inconsistent with facts on the ground.

    8. A retreat from Jewish Geography (Judea & Samaria) would deny Israel control over migration, which has been the key element determining the demographic balance between Jews and Arabs. It would facilitate a massive Arab immigration into Judea & Samaria, and from there – due to economic pressures – into the “Green Line”, which would wreck Jewish Demography.

    9. A relief of the non-lethal Demographic burden – via a retreat from parts/all of Judea & Samaria – would intensify the (conventional and terrorist) Security burden, which could be lethal. It would also exacerbate the irrigation burden, since 40% of Israel’s water supply originates in Judea & Samaria.

    10. Demography is tenuous and manageable, through government policies and regional and global developments. In contrast, the geography and topography of the Judea & Samaria mountain ridges – the “Golan Heights” of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and the coastal sliver along the Mediterranean – are fixed and not amenable to any alterations.

    11. Enhancing demography requires effective government policies. Securing demography necessitates the safeguarding of geography.

February 8, 2007 | Comments Off on Demographic Misrepresentation

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