By Dovid Bernstein
I often see lines like this in articles about Israel, this one from the AP: “… with Arabs living under Israeli control expected to outnumber Jews in the coming years.”
Let’s do the numbers. There are approximately 6.4 million Jews (including “Jews” who are not recognized by the Israeli Interior ministry as such because they are not Jewish under Jewish law). There are also approximately 1.6 million Arabs living in Israel, and 2.5 million (though this is debated) in the West Bank. Of the latter, an estimated 2.3 million live in areas under Palestinian civil control, and joint Israeli-Palestinian military control. Even giving a liberal construction to “living under Israeli control”, that makes roughly 6.4 million against 4.1 million. Given a Jewish birth rate of 2.9 per family, plus net Jewish immigration to Israel, there is not likely to be a majority of Arabs in the territory under Israeli control any time soon.
Now, if you add in the population of Gaza, things start to get closer. But even the most liberal definition of “living under Israeli control” can’t possibly include Gaza, where there is not a single Israeli civilian or soldier living, except perhaps for a handful of Shin Bet undercover agents. Yes, Israel maintains a partial blockade on Gaza, but day to day life in Gaza is anything but under Israeli control, especially in the context of an article, like the AP’s article, talking about how the tensions that arise when the Israeli and Palestinians population mix, which simply doesn’t and can’t happen in Gaza.
This is apropos of nothing in particular, but it irks me that journalists reporting Israel and the Palestinians seem to parrot things they pick up from various activist groups, without bothering to check easily discoverable facts.
UPDATE: By the way, if you ever want to find out whether someone is a sincere advocate of a “one-state solution,” a democratic state where both Jews and Arabs have equal rights, or simply wants an Arab takeover, after which most of the Jews will undoubtedly leave or be driven out, ask them this: Let’s say Hamas continues to control Gaza, and refuses to participate in peace negotiations with Israel. And let’s say further that Israel decides to annex the West Bank, gives the Arabs there equal rights, and writes a new Constitution abolishing any distinctions between the rights and responsibilities of Arabs and Jews in domestic law (and they mean it). Still in favor of one-state solution, even though it will have an indefinite Jewish majority? My guess is that most advocates of a one-state solution will find various rationales or excuses why a one-state solution without the looming possibility of an Arab majority is not to their liking.