The Corner

Defusing The Israeli Population Bomb

Interesting piece for demographic nerds, and probably a few others, in the Jerusalem Post (Reg. req’d). It turns out that the assumptions behind a lot of analysis may have been wrong. Here’s the opener:

Demography is a central issue in the Arab-Israeli conflict. Conventional wisdom holds that Israel faces a demographic time bomb because the Palestinian Authority’s reported 3.8 million population, combined with Israel’s 1.3 million Arabs, already almost equals the Jewish population (5.4 million). Some Israeli demographers contend that given high Arab birthrates, Jews will quickly become a minority between the Jordan and the Mediterranean.

But this doomsday scenario is wrong.

Remarkably, no one had bothered to verify the Palestine Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) numbers until we formed a team of American and Israeli researchers to exhaustively study Palestinian, Israeli and third-party sources. They revealed that the 2004 Arab population in the Territories is closer to 2.4 million than to the PCBS claim of 3.8 million, a 60% overstatement.

This million-and-a-half person gap arose because the PCBS figures are based on predictions, not on actual, real-time measurements. The PCBS also inflated its 1997 census, the base figure for its predictions, and then applied high birth and unrealistically high immigration assumptions to this inflated base, compounding the same errors year after year. Our audit found that the PCBS projections were not met for even one year between 1997 and 2004.

On top of the PCBS error, some Israeli demographers again applied the high growth rates, and continued to build further errors, exponentially, into the future.

Together these groups have built a demographic house of cards.

and the kicker:

The current Jewish majority, with its rising birthrate combined with modest aliya and/or returning overseas Israelis, would easily maintain the demographic balance in favor of the Jews. Parity between Jew and Arab might never be reached if Arab migration and fertility trends continue. And in Israel and the West Bank, Jewish dominance is overwhelming, both in absolute numbers and in terms of growth rates.

Given these factors, demographers who predict that Arab dominance is inevitable are indulging in pure and fallacious conjecture.

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