Powered by WebAds

Monday, April 27, 2009

Lies, damned lies and demographic statistics

The day before Independence Day is traditionally the day that the Central Bureau of Statistics releases the annual population figures. Here are some of this year's figures:
Israel's population on the eve of its 61st Independence Day numbers 7,411,000, according to data released by the Central Bureau of Statistics Monday afternoon.

Last year, the population was 7,282,000, and when Israel was established, it was just 806,000.

About 75.5 percent, or 5,593,000, of Israel's residents are Jews, 1,498,000 are Arabs (20.2%), while "Others" - immigrants and their offspring who are not registered as Jews by the Interior Ministry - number 320,000 (4.3%).

Since Independence Day last year, there have been approximately 154,000 babies born, and more than 12,000 immigrants have arrived. In total, Israel's population grew during this period by approximately 125,000 - a growth of 1.8%.
For years, Israel has been spooked by one dire demographic prediction after another, in each case claiming that the Arabs are about to attain majority status in this country. Yakov Faitelson summarizes some of the mistaken studies (Hat Tip: Michael Rubin).
Why fudge the numbers? There are two important reasons: First, overstating the Palestinian population is good for Palestinian morale, bad for Israeli morale, and heightens Jewish fears of the so-called "demographic time bomb"; second, there is a significant financial incentive, as the international community provides money to the Palestinian Authority according to the number of its inhabitants. When the Palestinian Authority pads its population numbers, the Palestinian Authority receives more money.

Careful demographic analysis, however, should lead to a conclusion in stark contrast to the demographic time bomb thesis. The natural increase of the Jewish population in Israel—that is, its yearly birth rate less its yearly death rate—stabilized thirty years ago and, since 2002, has even begun to grow. The natural increase of the total Arab population, comprising both Israeli Arabs and the Arabs of the West Bank and Gaza, continues to descend toward convergence with the Jewish population, probably in the latter half of this century.

The data, moreover, point to rising levels of Arab emigration, particularly among young people. According to the survey conducted by Bir-Zeit University, 32 percent of all Palestinians and 44 percent of Palestinian youth would emigrate if they could.[48] The official Palestinian newspaper Al-Hayat al-Jadida has reported similar numbers.[49] A public opinion poll conducted by the Near East Consulting Corporation in the Gaza Strip reveals an even higher rate—47 percent of all Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. [50] Translated into numbers of people, as of 2006, more than a million Arabs in the Palestinian territories wish to emigrate. As journalist Amit Cohen noted in 2007, "Close to 14,000 Palestinians, more than 1 percent of the population in the Strip, have left the Gaza Strip since the implementation of the withdrawal program,[51] largely for financial reasons.[52]

In an interview reported in the pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat around the same time, Salam Fayyad, head of the Emergency Palestinian Government, commented: "How will we be able to deal with the problem of 40,000 to 50,000 Palestinians who have emigrated and many more that are not emigrating just because they do not have the means? We are losing in this respect."[53]

The misuse of demography has been one of the most prominent, yet unexamined, aspects of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Many Israelis have so thoroughly absorbed the repeated claims of a diminishing Jewish majority that they do not consider whether their conventional wisdom is false. Before an accurate demographic picture of Israel and the Palestinian territories trickles down to the consciousness of the residents of the region, it must first be understood by Israeli and Palestinian policymakers, academics, and journalists, who need accurate, factual information to do their jobs. The impact on the conflict of such a development would be substantial.
Read the whole thing. I have discussed the false demography of the Arab-Israeli conflict many times; you may especially want to look here and here.


At 7:21 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Carl - a 90% Jewish majority is possible if the Israeli government were to do two things: encourage greater aliyah as a national priority and encourage Arab emigration from Eretz Israel. That is pay every Arab who wants to leave the country to do so. Both goals are entirely attainable and are a matter of political will. They can happen when the Israeli government wants them to happen.

At 7:33 PM, Blogger David said...

Another strategy to keep the Arab birth rate down is to encourage University education for Arab women who choose to stay.


Post a Comment

<< Home