Elliott Abrams

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Abrams gives his take on U.S. foreign policy, with special focus on the Middle East and democracy and human rights issues.

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Israel’s Population Bomb is Disappearing

by Elliott Abrams
November 16, 2016


Everyone knows that because Arab population growth rates in Israel and the West Bank far exceed Jewish ones, the percentage of the population that is not Jewish will rise steadily.  The only problem with that statement is that it is not true.

As The Times of Israel has just reported,

The fertility rates of Jewish and Arab women were identical for the first time in Israeli history in 2015, according to figures released by the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics on Tuesday….Jewish and Arab women had given birth to an average of 3.13 children as of last year….

The explanation is a sharp drop in Arab Israeli birth rates while Jewish birth rates have been rising: “In 2000, the fertility among the country’s Arab population stood at 4.3 children per woman, while the fertility rate of Jewish women was 2.6. Since then the gap has narrowed as the Arab rate dropped off and the Jewish fertility rates steadily increased.”

This high fertility rate is not simply an artifact of Israel’s growing ultra-Orthodox or Haredi population; the non-Haredi fertility rate is 2.6.  (This is, by the way, a far higher fertility rate than that of American Jews, which is 1.9; the replacement rate is 2.3.) The overall Israeli Jewish fertility rate of 3.13 also suggests that the population balance between Israel and the West Bank will not change: “Palestinian fertility on the West Bank has already fallen to the Israeli fertility rate of three children per woman, if we believe the Palestine Ministry of Health numbers rather than the highly suspect Central Bureau of Statistics data. In 1963, Israeli Arab women had eight or nine children; today they have three, about the same as Israeli Jews.”

What are the political implications? Whatever they are, the debate must begin with facts rather than assumptions–including facts about population growth.



Post a Comment 4 Comments

  • Posted by Neville Craig

    The fecundity is unsurprising, but what of the local environment and the various planetary ‘costs’ of supplying water and food required?

    The rate of population increase on the West Bank and Gaza is surely of more consequence, as it is ever more threatening locally.

    I am currently reading Bernard Lewis’s book ‘Notes’ (2012) where he quotes past-President ‘Harry’ Lee of Singapore who asked Lewis during a personal visit re local Muslims: ‘despite everything we do to help them , they keep sinking to the bottom of the pile…Why are they like that?’

  • Posted by hussein

    In response to Neville:
    If a tree cut even from the ground up it will start grow again as long as the roots are healthy. What western imperialists do is they take care of that tree very well during the day by watering and pruning. However at night they inject poison to its roof. When the tree dies they show off mourning and stating how much they loved and cared for it.
    Knowing that that tree represents the Muslims or rather Islam, it answers President Harry, Bernard Lewis and you.
    Here is an actual true example: While civilized west watched the slaughter of Bosnian Muslims by Serbs, UN saw it as a photo op. They came to “help” Bosnian Muslims telling Serbs “Let us feed them before you all kill them”.

  • Posted by Neville Craig

    To Hussein –
    As an Irish Botany graduate who has lived in Jordan and Egypt, I would challenge your strangely indirect reply by saying that trees do not necessarily regrow, especially in naturally dry conditions.

    That is known from Natural Science methodology but is not found in the Koran, where the ‘science’ seems to be confined to irrigation. I should add that I have worked daily as the only European among Palestinians of Christian background who had science degrees from the US, UK and Germany, and were not ‘professional victims’.

  • Posted by hussein

    To Neville:

    If so may be British and the West, under the disguise of helping, watering and irrigating too much, too excessively. That kills the trees as well.

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