Jews now a 47% minority in Israel and the territories, demographer says

Arnon Soffer says proportion of Jews between Mediterranean Sea and Jordan River lower than widely believed when non-citizens are taken into account

Nationalist Israel Jews wave Israeli flags as they march outside the Damascus Gate to Jerusalem's Old City, on June 15, 2021. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)
Nationalist Israel Jews wave Israeli flags as they march outside the Damascus Gate to Jerusalem's Old City, on June 15, 2021. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)

Jewish people make up less than 47 percent of all those living west of the Jordan River, an Israeli demographer warned Tuesday, claiming that most of the Israeli population is unaware of the democratic peril the country is sliding into by possibly becoming a ruling minority in the area.

Arnon Soffer, a professor of geography at Haifa University, told Army Radio Tuesday that in addition to the Jewish and Arab populations, he reached his figures by taking into consideration the hundreds of thousands of non-Jewish people residing in Israel who are not citizens.

According to Soffer, there are 7.45 million Jews and others along with 7.53 million Arab Israelis and Palestinians living in what he termed the Land of Israel, meaning Israel plus the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

When the number of non-Israeli nationals is taken into consideration, it leaves the Jewish proportion at between 46% and 47% of the total, he claimed.

According to Israel’s official Central Bureau of Statistics, at the end of 2021, 9.449 million people live in Israel (including Israelis in West Bank settlements).

Of those, 6.982 million (74 percent) are Jewish, 1.99 million (21%) are Arab and 472,000 (5%) are neither.

Haifa University demography expert Arnon Soffer, December 9, 2007. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)

The Palestinian Bureau of Statistics puts the West Bank Palestinian population at a little over 3 million, and the Gaza population at just over 2 million.

Soffer explained to Army Radio that although the birthrate has been higher among the Jewish population in recent years, so too is the death rate, meaning the Arab population, which is far younger on average than the Jewish population, is growing faster.

Soffer also noted that Israel is the most crowded country in the Western world, citing a Central Bureau of Statistics prediction that by 2065 the total population will be 35 million.

“Where will we sit? Where will we stand?” he asked.

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