Jews have won the demographic battle in Judea and Samaria

Anyone contending that there is a demographic machete at the throat of the Jewish State is either drastically mistaken or outrageously misleading!

“MABAT,” publication of Israel’s Intelligence Center, Oct. 2007

By Yoram Ettinger in conjunction with Bennett Zimmerman, Michael Wise and Roberta Seid, based on a Bennett Zimmerman-led “American-Israel Demographic Research Group” study.


Israel’s demographic establishment has been dramatically wrong: Demography constitutes a strategic asset, not a liability.

The claim that Jews are doomed to become a minority, between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean, is in direct contradiction of demographic reality. Such a claim has yielded demographic fatalism, which has dominated Israel’s academic, media, political and security sectors. It has become a basis for critical national security decisions. However, demographic fatalism is a suicidal prescription – especially in the Middle East – and it has been nurtured by grossly erroneous assumptions. Grossly erroneous assumptions produce grossly erroneous policies.

There is a demographic problem, but it is not lethal. Moreover, the demographic momentum is Jewish and not Arab. The number of Arabs in Judea & Samaria has been inflated by 70%, “Green Line” Arab fertility has declined 20 year faster than projected by the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics (ICBS), Jewish fertility has been higher than the ICBS’ best case scenario and Arab emigration from Judea & Samaria has been significant since 1950, boosted by a recent escalation.

Anyone contending that there is a demographic machete at the throat of the Jewish State is either drastically mistaken or outrageously misleading!


The projections published by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) have been refuted, annually, by the Palestinian ministries of health and education and election commission, as well as by the European observers at the Rafiah international passage, Jordan’s Central Bureau of Statistics and Israel’s Border Police (which acts similarly to the INS in the USA). These agencies have documented births, deaths, migration and voters registration. Israel’s demographers embraced, without examination or questioning, the Palestinian base numbers of the 1997 census. Therefore, they did not know that the 1997-2007 PCBS numbers are invalidated projections and not real numbers. They did not know that the PCBS base number and projections include some 400,000 overseas residents, in contravention of internationally-accepted demographic standards, which consider only de-facto residents (e.g. Israel subtracts from its count any Israeli who stays away for over a year). They were unaware of the double-count of some quarter million Arabs, who reside within Jerusalem’s Israeli municipal lines (as Israelis by the ICBS and as West Bankers by the PCBS). They ignored PCBS’ assumption of a massive net-IMMigration of over 300,000 Arabs to Judea & Samaria and Gaza (since 1998), which has been disproved by a massive net-EMigration of over 100,000, with an average annual net-EMigration of well over 10,000 since 1950! Net-emigration was 12,000 in 2004, 16,000 in 2005 and 25,000 in 2006.

Israel’s demographic establishment accepted PCBS projections – with no scrutiny – in spite of the fact that they were based on an assumed population growth rate that would have been twice as high as the five leading countries in the world in population growth rate: Afghanistan, Somalia, Eritrea, Niger and Sierra Leon.

If Israel’s demographers were aware of the aforementioned data, but did not report to policy-makers, the media and the public, then they were not gravely mistaken, but scandalously misleading.


The number of Arabs in Judea & Samaria – which has been accepted by Israel’s demographic, media, political and security establishments – has been inflated by 70% (1.5 million and not 2.5 million!). The number of Arabs in Judea & Samaria and Gaza has been inflated by over 50% (2.6 million and not 4 million!).

The gap between myth and reality is as dramatic within the “Green Line,” highlighted by the remarkable decline in Arab fertility. Thus, the Jewish-Arab fertility gap has shrunk from 6 children per woman, in 1969, to 0.8 in 2006. For the first time, since 1948, there is a convergence between Arab and Jewish fertility rates in Jerusalem – 3.9 children per woman. While the annual number of Arab births has stabilized at 38,500 since 1995, the annual number of Jewish births (including the Olim from the former USSR, who are not recognized yet as Jews by the Rabbinate) has increased by 36% during the last 12 years – from 80,400 to 109,188 per year! In 1995, the number of Jewish births amounted to 69% of total births, in 2006 it increased to 74% and during the first half of 2007 it reached 75%!

The Jewish majority west of the Jordan River has been robust and long-term since the 1960s – 67% without Gaza and 60% including Gaza, compared with a 33% minority in 1947 and an 8% minority in 1900. Since 1882 – the beginning of modern day Aliya (Jewish immigration to Israel) – the Jewish population between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean has grown 164 times, while the Arab population grew 6 times. Since 1949, the Jewish population grew 9 times, while the Arab population grew 3 times.

Israel’s demographic establishment – whose numbers are based on significant Palestinian inaccuracies – intensified its errors by adopting the 2000 ICBS projections. Those projections have been refuted annually by the ICBS’ own documentation. For instance, the decline in the Arab fertility rate (3.6 children per woman in 2006) has been 20 years faster than projected. At the same time, the Jewish fertility rate (2.8 in 2006) has annually exceeded the best case scenario of the ICBS. Since 1948, the ICBS has tended to under-project Jewish fertility, over-project Arab fertility, ignore the scope of Arab emigration and minimize the scope of potential Jewish Aliya (immigration). It has also overlooked the fact that Jewish demography has not been normative, and certainly not Western in nature. Moreover, the ICBS ignored the fact that Jews and Arabs have reacted differently to unusual economic and military developments (e.g. Jewish fertility grew during recent economic growth, while Arab fertility declined). The ICBS has miscomprehended the various phases in Arab demography, which reached its peak in the 1960s (“Green Line”) and in the early 1990s (Judea & Samaria and Gaza), and since than it is converging toward Jewish demography. Finally, ICBS projections have missed the unpredictable nature of demographic trends and global and regional developments, which impact the Jewish-Arab demographic balance (e.g. rise and fall of oil prices during the 1970s and 1980s, the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, the demise of the USSR, anti-Semitism in Argentina and France, etc.).


Paradoxically, Zionist leaders rejected demographic fatalism when Jews constituted a mere 8% minority (Herzl – 1900) and a 33% minority (Ben Gurion – 1947), possessing no sound military, economic or technological infrastructure. Vision-driven Zionist leaders defied the odds, did not allow demographic challenges to derail them from their long-term strategy, and therefore were able to dramatically enhance Jewish demography, while advancing the national security of the Jewish State.

However, the current Israeli political establishment has succumbed – unnecessarily and based on substantial errors – to Demographobia, at a time when the Jewish State has acquired critical mass demographically, militarily, economically, technologically and diplomatically.

Demographic reality has vindicated early Zionist leaders, who persisted in their drive to establish a Jewish State, in defiance of horrific security, financial, political and demographic odds.

Policy-makers who subordinate long-term strategy to demographic constraints, who do not realize that any improvement of the demographic burden (which is not lethal) – resulting from a geographic giveaway – is bound to exacerbate the security burden (which is lethal), who subscribe to grossly flawed assumptions, are doomed to formulate a flawed national security policy, which has jeopardized the survival of the Jewish State.

A sound national security policy must be based on the realization that the demographic momentum is Jewish!

The suggestion that a retreat from Jewish geography is, supposedly, required, in order to secure Jewish demography, is reckless and unfounded.


Please visit for more info on Jewish-Arab demography.

Please visit for previous OpEds and newsletters

November 11, 2007 | 11 Comments »

Subscribe to Israpundit Daily Digest