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Changing demographics in Israel lead to charges of apartheid


Haaretz journalist Akiva Eldar writes (paywalled) that, according to the Israeli government's own figures, non-Jews outnumber Jews in the land under Israeli control:

Amid a dry economic report published yesterday in TheMarker lies an official announcement/acknowledgment of unparalleled importance: The government of Israel confirms that between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River there is no longer a Jewish majority. In other words, in the territory under Israel's jurisdiction a situation of apartheid exists. A Jewish minority rules over an Arab majority...

According to the Central Bureau of Statistics (which is subordinate to the Prime Minister's Office ), of the 12 million residents living under Israeli rule, the number of Jews is just under 5.9 million (as of April 25 ). Twelve million minus 5.9 million Jews equals 6.1 million non-Jews. In other words, between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, there is a pretty Jewish state as far as its laws and customs, but the reality is not so democratic. Foreign sources report that Jews had already become a minority in the area of the greater Land of Israel several years ago. From now on, it is an official statistic.

There is a significant caveat however: Gaza's 1.5 million citizens are counted as falling under Israeli jurisdiction. I'm not sure it's accurate to describe the Gaza Strip as falling within Israel's jurisdiction - although it is blockaded by Israel. Nevertheless, it sharpens the demographic warning that many peace process devotees have been making that, to quote Paul Pillar, "Israel will be unable to be democratic, controlled by Jews, and embracing all of Palestine. It can be any two of those things, but not all three."

Still, Eldar's use of the term "apartheid" is bound to rile more than illuminate. Peter Beinart, who has been critical of Israeli settlements, rejects the term:

But unlike their brethren in the West Bank, Palestinian Arabs within the green line also enjoy citizenship and the right to vote. They sit in the Knesset and on Israelâ??s Supreme Court. They maintain their own religious courts and their own, state-funded, Arabic-language schools and media, something religious and ethnic minorities in many other countries do not enjoy. Arabic is one of Israelâ??s official languages. Palestinian Arab citizens have also made dramatic educational and economic gains under Israeli rule. The political scientists Ilan Peleg and Dov Waxman note that in 1948, the illiteracy rate among Israelâ??s Palestinian Arabs was 80 percent. By 1988, it was 15 percent.

UPDATE: Yishia Goldflam argues that Eldar's report elided critical facts:

To summarize, Akiva Eldar took an unsubstantiated figure which appeared in The Marker (12 million residents from the Jordan River to the sea) and attributed this figure to the Ministry of Finance and the Central Bureau of Statistics, two governmental bodies, despite the fact that neither of them mentioned the figure. And, based on these journalistic acrobatics, we have the false headline "The government's acknowledgement that Jews are a minority in this land. . . "

And what about this figure of 12 million? According to the CIA's World Factbook, some 1.7 million Palestinians live in the Gaza Strip, and another 2.3 million live in the West Bank. Another 1.6 million Arabs live in Israel proper (according to the April 25 CBS press release that Eldar cites.) If we count only those Arabs living under Israeli rule (meaning in Israel and the West Bank), we reach 3.8 million. (And this figure does not take into account that the vast majority of the West Bank Palestinian population lives in Area A, or entirely under Palestinian Authority rule.) Moreover, even if we do add in the 1.7 Gaza Palestinians, who clearly do not "liv[e] under Israeli rule," we reach only 5.5 million Arabs -- still less than the 5.9 million Israeli Jews living in Israel, plus Judea and Samaria, or the West Bank.

(AP Photo)