Yoram Ettinger: 2023 demographic update: no Arab demographic time bomb
2023 demographic update: no Arab demographic time bomb
Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger, “Second Thought: a US-Israel Initiative”
March 16, 2023, https://bit.ly/40ed8nH
Demography west of the Jordan River
In 2023, Israel is the only Western democracy endowed with a relatively high
fertility rate, that facilitates further economic growth, which is not
dependent upon migrant labor. Moreover, Israel’s thriving demography
provides for bolstered national security (larger classes of recruits),
economy and technology and a more confident foreign policy.
In 2023, contrary to projections made by the demographic establishment at
the end of the 19th century and during the 1940s, Israel’s Jewish fertility
rate is higher than the fertility rates in all Muslim countries other than
Iraq and the sub-Sahara Muslim countries.
In 2023 (based on the latest data of 2021), the Jewish fertility rate of
3.13 births per woman is higher than the 2.85 Arab fertility rate (as it has
been since 2016) and the 3.01 Arab-Muslim fertility rate (as it has been
In 2023, Israel’s Jewish fertility rate is higher than any Arab country
other than Iraq’s.
In 2023, there is a race (which started in the 1990s) between the Jewish and
Arab fertility rates, unlike the race between the Arab fertility rate and
Jewish Aliyah (immigration), which took place in 1949-1990s (while the
Jewish fertility rate was relatively low).
In 2023, the Westernization of Arab demography persists as a derivative of
modernity, urbanization, women’s enhanced social status, women’s enrollment
in higher education and increased use of contraceptives.
In 2023, in contrast to conventional demographic wisdom, Israel is not
facing a potential Arab demographic time bomb in the combined areas of
Judea, Samaria (the West Bank) and pre-1967 Israel. In fact, the Jewish
State benefits from a robust tailwind of fertility rate and net-immigration.
In 2023, the demographic and policy-making establishment persists in
reverberating the official Palestinian numbers without due-diligence
(auditing), ignoring a 100% artificial inflation of the population numbers:
inclusion of overseas resident, double-counting of Jerusalem Arabs and
Israeli Arabs married to Judea and Samaria Arabs, inflated birth and
deflated death data (as documented below).
In 2023, Israel is facing a potential wave of Aliyah (Jewish immigration) of
some 500,000 Olim from the Ukraine, Russia, other former Soviet republics,
France, Britain, Germany, Argentina, the USA, etc., which requires Israel to
approach pro-active Aliyah policy as a top national priority.
In 2023, the Jewish demographic momentum persists (since 1995) with the
secular Jewish sector making the difference, while the ultra-orthodox sector
is experiencing a slight decline in fertility rate.
Jewish demographic momentum
*The number of Israeli Jewish births in 2022 (137,566) was 71% higher than
1995 (80,400), while the number of Israeli Arab births in 2022 (43,417) was
19% higher than 1995 (36,500), as reported by the February 2023 Monthly
Bulletin of Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics (ICBS).
*In 2022, Jewish births (137,566) were 76% of total births (180,983),
compared to 69% in 1995.
*The fertility rate (number of births per woman) of Israeli secular Jewish
women has trended upward during the last 25 years.
*Israeli Jewish women – who are second only to Iceland in joining the job
market – are unique in experiencing a direct correlation between a rise of
fertility rate, on the one hand, and a rise in urbanization, education,
level of income, integration into the job market and a rise of wedding age,
on the other hand.
*In 1969, Israel’s Arab fertility rate was 6 births higher than the Jewish
fertility rate. In 2015, both fertility rates were at 3.13 births per woman,
reflecting the dramatic Westernization of Arab demography, triggered by the
enhanced social status of women, older wedding age (24), expanded
participation of women in higher-education and the job market, and shorter
reproductive time (25-45 rather than 16-55). According to Israel’s Monthly
Bulletin of Statistics, in 2021, the Jewish fertility rate was 3.13 (and
3.27 with an Israeli-born Jewish father), while the overall Arab fertility
rate was 2.85 and the Muslim fertility rate was 3 (Judea and Samaria Arab
fertility rate – 3.02). The average OECD fertility rate is 1.61 births per
*The unique growth in Israel’s Jewish fertility rate is attributed to
optimism, patriotism, attachment to Jewish roots, communal solidarity, the
Jewish high regard for raising children, frontier mentality and a declining
number of abortions (34% decline since 1990).
*In 2022, there were 45,271 Israeli Jewish deaths, compared to 31,575 in
1996, a 43% increase (while the size of the population almost doubled!),
which reflects a society growing younger. In 2022, there were 6,314 Israeli
Arab deaths, compared to 3,089 in 1996, a 104% increase, which reflects a
society growing older.
In 2021, Israeli males’ life expectancy was 80.5 and Israeli females – 84.6.
Israel’s Arab life expectancy (78 per men and 82 per women) is higher than
the US life expectancy (men – 73.2, women – 79.1). Life expectancy of Judea
and Samaria Arabs: men – 74, women – 78.
*In 2022, the number of Israeli Jewish deaths was 33% of Jewish births,
compared to 40% in 1995 – a symptom of a society growing younger. In 2022,
the number of Israeli Arab deaths was 14.5% of Arab births, compared to 8%
in 1995 – a symptom of a society growing older.
*Since 1995, the demographic trend has expanded the younger segment of
Israel’s Jewish population, which provides a solid foundation for enhanced
demography and economy.
*The positive Jewish demographic trend is further bolstered by Israel’s
net-immigration, which consists of an annual Aliyah (Jewish immigration),
reinforced by the shrinking scope of Israeli emigration: from 14,200
net-emigration in 1990 to 10,800 in 2020 (while the population doubled
itself), which is higher than the 7,000 average annual net-emigration in
recent years. The 2020 numbers may reflect the impact of COVID-19 on air
Westernization of Arab demography
*A dramatic decline in the fertility rate from 9 births per woman in the
1960s to 3.02 births in 2022 is documented by the CIA World Factbook, which
generally echoes the official Palestinian numbers. It reflects the
Westernization of Arab demography in Judea and Samaria, which has been
accelerated by the sweeping urbanization (from a 70% rural population in
1967 to a 77% urban population in 2022), as well as the rising wedding age
for women (from 15 years old to 24), the substantial use of contraceptives
(70% of Arab women in Judea and Samaria) and the shrinking of the
reproductive period (from 16-55 to 24-45).
*The median age of Judea and Samaria Arabs is 22 years old, compared to 18
years old in 2005.
*The Westernization of fertility rates has characterized all Muslim
countries, other than the sub-Sahara region: Jordan (which is very similar
to the Judea and Samaria Arabs) – 2.9 births per woman, Iran – 1.9, Saudi
Arabia – 1.9, Morocco – 2.27, Iraq -3.17, Egypt – 2.76, Yemen – 2.91,
United Arab Emirates – 1.65, etc.
*The number of Arab deaths in Judea and Samaria has been systematically
under-reported (for political power and financial reasons), as documented by
various studies since the British Mandate. For example, a recent Palestinian
population census included Arabs who were born in 1845!
Artificially-inflated Palestinian numbers
*The demographic and policy-making establishment of Israel and the West
refrains from auditing the official Palestinian data, and therefore it does
not report the following well-documented Palestinian departure from a
*500,000 overseas residents, who have been away for over a year, are
included in the Palestinian population census. However, internationally
accepted procedures stipulate only a de-facto count. It was 325,000, as
stated by the Head of the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics in the
aftermath of the first Palestinian census of 1997; increasing to 400,000 in
2005, as documented by the Palestinian Election Commission. The number grows
daily because of overseas births.
*375,000 East Jerusalem Arabs, who possess Israeli ID cards, are
doubly-counted. They are included in the Israeli census as well as in the
Palestinian census. The number grows daily due to births.
*Over 150,000 Arabs from Gaza and (mostly) from Judea and Samaria, who
married Israeli Arabs and received Israeli ID cards, are doubly-counted
counted by Israel and by the Palestinian Authority. The number expands daily
because of births.
*390,000 Arab emigrants from Judea and Samaria are not excluded from the
population census of the Palestinian Authority. The latter ignores the
annual net-emigration of mostly-young-Arabs from Judea and Samaria (around
17,000 annually in recent years). Net-emigration has been a systemic feature
of the area, at least, since the Jordanian occupation in 1950. For example,
12,580 in 2022, 28,000 in 2021, 26,357 in 2019, 15,173 in 2017 and 16,393 in
2015, as documented by Israel’s Immigration and Population Authority, which
records all Jewish and Arab exists and entries via Israel’s land, air and
sea international passages.
*A 32% artificial inflation of Palestinian births was documented by the
World Bank (page 8, item 6) in a 2006 audit. While the Palestinian Authority
claimed an 8% increase in the number of births, the World Bank detected a
*The aforementioned data documents 1.4 million Arabs in Judea and Samaria,
when deducting the aforementioned documented-data (1.6 million) from the
official Palestinian number (3 million).
The bottom line
*The US should derive much satisfaction from Israel’s demographic viability
and therefore, Israel’s enhanced posture of deterrence, which is the US’ top
force and dollar multiplier in the Middle East and beyond.
*In 1897, there was a 9% Jewish minority in the combined area of pre-1967
Israel, Judea and Samaria, expanding to a 39% minority in 1947. In 2023,
there is a 69% Jewish majority (7.5mn Jews, 2mn Israeli Arabs and 1.4mn
Arabs in Judea and Samaria), benefitting from a robust demographic tailwind
of births and migration.
*In contrast to conventional wisdom, there is no Arab demographic time bomb.
There is, however, a robust Jewish demographic tailwind.
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