Defying ‘demographic doom’
New statistics show that the Israeli-Jewish fertility rate this year has surpassed that of the Israeli-Arab population for the first time, defying analysts who have made long-term projections of a Jewish minority in Israel.
At the same time, it remains to be seen whether the numbers will affect the political landscape of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The upward-trending Jewish rate of 3.16 births per woman, and the corresponding downward-trending figure of 3.11 for Israeli Arabs, can lead to more confident policy decisions by the Israeli government, said demographic expert Yoram Ettinger, who published a recent report on the issue.
“In contrast to the stated position of the establishment’s prophets of demographic doom, there is no Arab demographic time bomb, but there is an unprecedented Jewish demographic tailwind,” Ettinger, the former minister for congressional affairs at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C., told JNS.org.
As of September, there were 6.523 million Jews and 1.824 million Arabs living in Israel, according to the country’s Central Bureau of Statistics. JNS
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How Israeli fertility compares with OECD and Arab countries
…Meanwhile, according to statistics presented at the annual conference of the Israeli Society for Maternal and Fetal Medicine, Israel has the highest fertility rate (3.1) among countries in the 35-member Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
Ettinger is optimistic regarding the prospects for continued Jewish immigration to Israel, particularly from Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, France, the U.K., Germany, Holland, Belgium, and Argentina.
His report noted that in 2017, Israel’s fertility rate has been higher than those of most Arab countries—including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Syria—and that the rate in Palestinian-controlled territories went from 5 births per woman in 2000 to around 3 in 2016.
Ettinger pointed out that Arab demography is hurt by Palestinian emigration from Israel and the disputed territories, particularly in light of intra-Palestinian fighting between Hamas and the Palestine Liberation Organization. JNS