Israel's Defeated in the Demographic Battle: An interview with Dr.
The International Press Center (IPC)
February 14, 2005
Dr. Yousef Ibrahim, the professor of Geography and Population
Studies at Al Aqsa University in Gaza, said that the Jewish
immigration to Israel, which the Zionist organization labeled
as 'return', has turned to a weapon to fight the Palestinian people
with in the demographic battle.
And as each day passes, the image becomes more clear that the
Zionist project in historic Palestine is losing grounds to the
Palestinians on the demographic level.
Dr. Ibrahim also added, in an interview with IPC, that the
statistics released by the Israeli Census Bureau showed that 81
percent of the residents of historic Palestine are Jews, equaling
5.45 million individuals, including 0.29 million new immigrants who
were not yet registered at the Ministry of Interior as Jews.
According to Dr. Ibrahim, the population of Israel grew by 116
thousand individuals in 2003, which is considered the least growth
rate in 13 years for Israel, pointing out that the immigration
budget of 2003 contributed only to an increase of 9 percent, meaning
23 thousand new immigrants, compared to 34 thousand in 2002. More
than half of the new immigrants came from former socialist
countries, while 13 percent arrived from Ethiopia, 8 percent from
France and 7 percent from the United States.
Decisive Demographic Point
The geography and population studies professor further indicated
that all the demographic expectations point to the fact that Jews
would become a minority in historic Palestine by the end of the
current decade, due to the high birthrate among Palestinians,
referring to the words of Sergio De la Bergola, an Israeli
demographic expert, who said that "the direction is quite obvious.
Before the end of this decade Jews will become a minority in the
lands that include 'Israel', West Bank and Gaza Strip. The Jewish
population has a slight majority between the Mediterranean and the
The Israeli expert continued as saying that Jews amount to 5.2
million, while Arabs to 4.9 million, including 1.2 million
Palestinians living in Israel and 3.7 million Palestinians in the
West Bank and Gaza, not to mention about 300 thousand non-Jewish
Israel immigrants who came from the former Soviet Union and about
150 thousand foreign workers.
According to a demographic study released by the Palestinian Central
Bureau of Statistics (PCBS), Dr. Ibrahim said that the Arab
population would reach 6.3 million in 2010, compared to 5.7 million
Jews, provided that the current growth ratios continued along the
same pattern. There are no exact numbers about the immigration
outside historic Palestine, because those who settle abroad cannot
be counted as abroad except after five years.
However, Israeli newspaper published numbers ranging between 10-15
thousand immigrations every year since 2000, and the Israeli Prime
Minister Ariel Sharon has often declared that his goal was to bring
in a million immigrants within the next ten years.
"While the Arab population has higher birthrates than the Jewish
population, whose numbers are bolstering due to the ever-decreasing
immigration waves. And if the Jews abroad didn't face a catastrophe,
then there are no indications that this pattern would change," Dr.
Ibrahim said, pointing out that the official figures said the number
of immigrants in 2003 was the least since 1989, and was 31 percent
less than 2002.
Jewish Agency and Immigration
About the immigration to historic Palestine, Dr. Ibrahim made clear
that the Jewish Agency has spread more than 22 thousand immigrants,
half of them from the former Soviet Union, across the occupied
Palestinian territories in 2003. The Jewish Rabbinic authority,
however, does not consider almost half of the Russian immigrants as
Jews, but rather benefiting from the Israeli 'right to return' by
being relative to Jews, in order to obtain the Israeli citizenship
and improve their miserable financial situation by living and
working in Israel.
Ebbing Jewish Immigration Waves
Dr. Ibrahim further explained that the Jewish Agency relate the
steady decrease in immigration rates to several correlated reasons,
mainly the decrease of human reservoir in the former Soviet Union,
due to pas intensive immigration waves to historic Palestine, and
immigrations to other countries such as Germany.
Other experts view the decrease in immigration rates as related to
the deterioration of the security situation in Israel since the
eruption of Al Aqsa Intifada in September, 2000 and the accompanying
economic recession, which led to unprecedented high unemployment
rates. Immigrant numbers from Argentina in particular decreased also
due to the improvement in the Argentinean economy.
Sharon and Immigration
About Sharon and immigration, Dr. Ibrahim viewed that since the
declaration of an Israeli state in 1948 all Israeli prime ministers
called -in various degrees of success- on Jews to immigrate to
Israel and live in it based on biblical claims to the land of
Palestine, but Sharon went farther than any other prime minister, to
demanding the Jews of France to immediately immigrate to Israel, as
well as planning to bring all the Jews of Ethiopia, known
as "Falasha", who are estimated at 20 thousand Jews, to settle in
historic Palestine by the end of 2007.
As of next June, Dr. Ibrahim revealed, the Ethiopian Jews
immigrating to Israel would be doubled from 300 immigrants every
month to 600, in addition to instructing the ministries of interior
and finance in Israel to prepare a full plan of absorbing those Jews
in Israel within three months, reminding that there were 17 thousand
Falasha Jews waiting to be allowed to travel to Israel in Ethiopia.
Falasha Jews: Free Labor
Dr. Ibrahim pointed out to the huge dispute between Jewish rabbis in
Israel about whether Ethiopian Jews truly belong to Judaism, as the
rabbi Rozen Ezra, who is one of the responsible persons of reviewing
immigration forms, said that 31 percent of the Ethiopian Jews who
were brought to Israel over the past three years were not Jews at
all, questioning the standards of rabbis Menachem and Waldmann, who
approved their immigration forms over the past 20 years.
Dr. Ibrahim also noted that Ethiopian Jews are subjected to extreme
racial discrimination in Israel based on their color, and cases have
been recorded in Israeli hospitals where organs donated by Falasha
Jews were rejected by hospital officials based on racist reasons.
Ethiopian Jews are usually gathered in small and impoverished
neighborhoods in fringe areas of Israel, as well as holding most of
the jobs with meager wages and hard labor, and serving in the most
dangerous areas among the Israeli forces.
Gaza Withdrawal and the Demographic Battle
About the relation between the withdrawal from Gaza and the
continuous demographic battles, Dr. Ibrahim said, "there is a tight
and direct relation between the withdrawal and the demographic
battle, as Sharon has called in June to withdraw from Gaza Strip,
where there is a tight and direct relation between the withdrawal
and the demographic battle, as Sharon has called in July to withdraw
from Gaza Strip, where 1.3 million Palestinians live million
Palestinians live, and that has become necessary for Israel to
retain its 'Jewish and democratic' character."
According to the professor, the Labor's opposition in Israel regard
the Israeli occupation as eventually threatening the Zionist
project, as Israel would not be able to maintain a Jewish and
democratic character if Jews became a minority, pointing out that
the rightist leader Ariel Sharon has long refused this argument,
wagering on the arrival of "a million immigrants" to Israel within
But with the constant decrease in immigration rates, this aim became
impossible to achieve, as 24 thousand immigrants, half of them from
the former Soviet Union, arrived to Israel in 2003, and in the first
six months of 2004 only nine thousand immigrants arrived.
Dr. Ibrahim also noted that the immigrants from the United States
have increased slightly, while the French and Ethiopian immigrants
Demographic Battle and Peaceful Resolution
The former Israeli minister and current member of Knesset, Avigdor
Lieberman, who also chairs the rightist Israeli party 'Israel
Beiteno' (Israel our home) has proposed at Hertziliya's fifth
security conference his own project for a final status resolution
with the Palestinians, which focused on a full withdrawal from the
Palestinian territories occupied in 1967, along with trading lands
based on population presence, as he proposed to join the Arab
triangle area inside Israel to the West Bank and annexing all the
Israeli settlements in the West Bank to Israel.
According to Dr. Ibrahim, Lieberman said that "my plan might be
different from any other plan in two concepts; the first is that
from what I heard from everybody so far, they propose a national
state for the Palestinians, without including any Jew in it, and on
the other hand they want to turn Israel into a bi-national state.
They say they're afraid of the demographic factor, and we want a
democratic and Jewish state, and I believe that the left has to be
more honest in order to tell the truth. They want Israel as a state
for all its citizens, and I reject that. I'm talking about a pure
Jewish and Zionist state, for Jews only and not Arabs, and who
refuses that can only stay here as a guest."
"I'm not talking here about a Transfer," Lieberman
continued. "Transfer we only make for Jews, and this is what we made
for the Jews of Yamit (the largest Israeli settlement in Sinai,
which was evacuated in 1981), and this is what they're doing to the
Jews of Gush Qatif (an illegal Israeli settlement bloc in Gaza
Strip). This is a Transfer par excellence. They come with trucks and
load Jews in them, and those who refuse are hand-cuffed and forced
out of their homes, after living there for more than 30 years,
without asking them or getting their consent."
Finally, Dr. Ibrahim said that absorbing thousands of Ethiopian Jews
and the withdrawal from Gaza are just Zionist attempts to delay the
demographic battle, which is inevitable and Israel would lose it
without a solution based on establishing an independent and
sovereign Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.