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06 May: Tair Kaminer starts her fifth spell in gaol. Send messages of support via Reuven Kaminer

04 May: Against the resort to denigration of Israel’s critics


23 Dec: JfJfP policy statement on BDS

14 Nov: Letter to the Guardian about the Board of Deputies

11 Nov: UK ban on visiting Palestinian mental health workers

20 Oct: letter in the Guardian

13 Sep: Rosh Hashanah greetings

21 Aug: JfJfP on Jeremy Corbyn

29 July: Letter to Evening Standard about its shoddy reporting

24 April: Letter to FIFA about Israeli football

15 April: Letter re Ed Miliband and Israel

11 Jan: Letter to the Guardian in response to Jonathan Freedland on Charlie Hebdo


15 Dec: Chanukah: Celebrating the miracle of holy oil not military power

1 Dec: Executive statement on bill to make Israel the nation state of the Jewish people

25 Nov: Submission to All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism

7 Sept: JfJfP Executive statement on Antisemitism

3 Aug: Urgent disclaimer

19 June Statement on the three kidnapped teenagers

25 April: Exec statement on Yarmouk

28 Mar: EJJP letter in support of Dutch pension fund PGGM's decision to divest from Israeli banks

24 Jan: Support for Riba resolution

16 Jan: EJJP lobbies EU in support of the EU Commission Guidelines, Aug 2013–Jan 2014


29 November: JfJfP, with many others, signs a "UK must protest at Bedouin expulsion" letter

November: Press release, letter to the Times and advert in the Independent on the Prawer Plan

September: Briefing note and leaflet on the Prawer Plan

September: JfJfP/EJJP on the EU guidelines with regard to Israel

14th June: JfJfP joins other organisations in protest to BBC

2nd June: A light unto nations? - a leaflet for distribution at the "Closer to Israel" rally in London

24 Jan: Letter re the 1923 San Remo convention

18 Jan: In Support of Bab al-Shams

17 Jan: Letter to Camden New Journal about Veolia

11 Jan: JfJfP supports public letter to President Obama

Comments in 2012 and 2011



How will Israel govern its majority of non-Jews in Israel and oPt?

A protester hangs a Palestinian flag on the separation barrier near Budrus, West Bank. Photo by

Jews Now Minority in Israel and Territories

The ticking demographic time-bomb

By JJ Goldberg, blog, Jewish Forward
September 19, 2013

One of the most common arguments in favor of the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the so-called demographic threat or demographic time-bomb. Proponents worry that if Israel continues to control the Palestinian territories, with or without formal annexation, the different birthrates of Jews and Arabs will eventually result in Jews being a minority in the territory under Israeli control. At that point Israel will no longer be a Jewish state — or, alternatively, will be a Jewish state with a non-Jewish majority that is disenfranchised because of its ethnic identity. There’s a word for that. I won’t say it, but I’ll note that it’s Afrikaans in origin.

How far off such a situation might be is a topic of considerable debate. Some say the threshold will be crossed within a decade or less. Others suggest a longer timeline is possible. A few on the right believe there’s no threat at all, either because Jewish and Arab fertility rates are converging or because Palestinian population figures are inflated. By and large, though, demography appears to be a very mainstream worry.

Well, worry no more. It turns out we’re there already. Comparing the annual Rosh Hashanah population report from Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics, released September 2, with the midyear (July 1) population figures for the West Bank and Gaza in the CIA World Factbook, it turns out that Jews are now (as of Rosh Hashanah) outnumbered by Arabs under Israeli sovereignty by a grand total of 50,827. So the question is no longer whether or when the Jewish state will feature a minority ruling a majority. The question now is what to do about it.

Here are the numbers:

Palestinian Arabs, West Bank: 2,676,740

Palestinian Arabs, Gaza Strip: 1,763,387

(Total Palestinians, Israeli military-administered territories: 4,440,127)

Israeli Arabs (citizens): 1,666,800

Total Arabs under Israeli sovereign administration: 6,106,927

Israeli Jews: 6,056,100

A few notes on the figures:

First, if you’re checking sources, note that the new population report from the Israeli statistics bureau is in Hebrew only. The bureau’s English site doesn’t yet have this year’s numbers. Here’s the Jerusalem Post’s English-language news report with rounded-off figures.

IDF stops Palestinians from rebuilding razed West Bank village of Khirbet Al-Makhul, demolished earlier last week. The IDF called the incident a “disturbance of the peace,” and a provocation,” while European diplomats said they were “manhandled” and illegally prevented from delivering humanitarian aid to Palestinians by the IDF. Photo September 20, 2013 by Reuters.

Second, the West Bank page in the CIA World Factbook states that the West Bank population includes two “ethnic groups,” “Palestinian Arab and other 83%, Jewish 17%.” It goes on to note that there were “approximately 325,000 Israeli settlers” living in the West Bank in 2011 (the figure is pretty close to the Israeli government’s figure for that year; East Jerusalem is listed separately), which raises the question of whether or not the total West Bank population figure includes the settlers. That would bring the total Arab population down below the Jewish population and make this whole blog post moot.

However, Haaretz published a photo of the IDF West Bank civil administration’s report on the Palestinian (Arab) population for May 2012 (2,657,029) and it was a pretty close match to the CIA’s figure for that year (2,623,000). Neither one included Jewish settlers.

That also addresses the challenge raised by the Israeli right to Palestinian population figures. (Here’s the most substantive version of the challenge.[Middle East Quarterly, Spring 2009]) The charge is that the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics pumps up its figures for political reasons. I don’t see how the IDF civil administration can be accused of that.

Has the IDF ‘disengaged’ from Gaza? Palestinians retreat from the border fence between Israel and the southern Gaza Strip as an IDF patrol approaches. If any Palestinians ‘tamper’ with the fence they are liable to be fired on either by an IDF patrol or by one of nearby watchtowers. Photo by Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90/File.

A third question might be whether Palestinians in Gaza should even be considered in the mix, since Israel withdrew its troops from the strip in 2005 and no longer exercises effective military control of the population. There’s an extensive international legal literature on the topic, with Israel generally maintaining that Gaza is no longer occupied and most international players claiming it still is. CNN published a quick summary of the arguments in 2009, with a peek at who’s on what side. Key takeaway: No international body, including the United States government, considers the disengagement to mean Gaza is no longer occupied territory.

Here’s* one of the most thorough Israeli legal arguments for the claim that disengagement ended the occupation. Here’s the January 2008 ruling by the Israeli High Court of Justice in the case of Bassiouni v. Prime Minister, finding that the laws of occupation no longer apply. And here’s** a fascinating paper by a prominent Israeli international jurist, Solon Solomon, arguing that Gaza is in fact a hybrid case in which some of the laws of occupation no longer apply but some still do. His overall conclusion seems to be that Gaza is more occupied than not.

Two points: One, in the many Israeli arguments against creating an independent Palestinian state right now, a critical claim is that the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah is incapable of exercising its proper control over Gaza, meaning it can’t carry out the functions of a state which Israel would be devolving on it. How can Israel devolve authority over Gaza onto a new entity if it doesn’t have that authority to devolve right now?

Second, the legal consensus in Israel seems to be that Gaza is no longer under Israeli occupation. In other words, it was, but it ended in August 2005. For years Israel has been arguing that Gaza and the West Bank are not occupied. Now Gaza was but isn’t any longer. One begins to suspect, though I hesitate to say it, that much of Israel’s international legal maneuvering is more utilitarian than lishma—that is, the arguments are constructed not to find truth but to justify a predetermined position. That might color our views of the Gaza-isn’t-occupied claims.

Finally, it must be noted that another 4.2% of Israel’s population, including some 344,000 individuals, is neither Jewish nor Arab but “other,” a category that includes about 4,000 Circassian Christians, 3,000 Armenians, 1,000 Samaritans, perhaps 5,000 African Hebrew Israelites, several thousand Roma and Vietnamese, plus about 325,000 or 330,000 people who appear to be immigrants, most Russian, who entered the country under the Law of Return (which includes anyone with a single Jewish grandparent) but are not considered Jewish, along with various foreign-born spouses of Israeli Jews. If those 330,000 persons are counted in the Jewish population, then Jews are still a majority. It must be recalled, though, that the Israeli government does not count them as Jews, and the likelihood of that happening is getting a steadily dimmer as bills flood the Knesset hopper (four over the past session alone) to narrow Israel’s self-identity as a Jewish state.

* Is the Gaza Strip Still Occupied by Israel?
by Pnina Sharvit-Baruch; Col. (Ret.) Pnina Sharvit Baruch is a Former Head of the International Law Department of the IDF Military Advocate General’s Office
** Occupied or not: the question of Gaza’s legal status after the Israei disengagement, by Solon Solomon, 2011, 32 pp., pdf.

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