Listening to the United Nations, one might fear that Palestinian Arabs are being “ethnically cleansed” in Jerusalem due to Israeli “occupation.” Here are some facts (statistics as of 2011 as compiled by the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies).
Fastest Growing Group in Jerusalem
and Most of the Middle East
The Arab population in Jerusalem has not only grown, it has grown faster than the Jewish population in Jerusalem, faster than Arabs around Israel, and faster than Arabs in the surrounding countries.
- The annual growth rate in 2011 of Arabs in Jerusalem was 3.2%, higher than Jews who only grew by 2.1%.
- Arabs now account for 36% of the population of Jerusalem, up from 26% when the city was reunited in 1967.
- From 1967 to 2011, Arabs grew by 5.7 times, while Jews only grew by 3.4 times.
- The Arabs of Jerusalem now account for 18% of the Arabs in Israel.
- The mortality rate of Arabs in Jerusalem (2.7 per 1000) is lower than Jews (5.2 per 1000).
- Jerusalem leads the country in the number of births, and the Arab births account for the same percentage (36%) as in the city. Jews had 27.8 births per 1000 and Arabs had 27.9 births per 1000. Both of those rates are extremely high, and are rates typically found in Africa, not in developed nations.
- Arab students make up 38% of the school system in Jerusalem, more than the 36% Arab population.
Muslim Arabs are Similar to Charedi Jews
The demographics of the Muslim Arabs in Jerusalem is very similar to that of the Ultra-Orthodox (Charedi) Jews in Jerusalem. Consider the following:
|JERUSALEM||Children (0-14)||Seniors (65+)||Media Age|
|Rest of Jews||26%||14%||31|
The poverty rate among the Muslim Arabs is also similar to Charedi Jews. Each community tends to have much larger families than the rest of the population (Arabs have 5.7 people per household and Jews have 3.4, but skews much higher in the Charedi community). This typically leads to much poorer living conditions for both groups than the rest of the city.
Approximately 23% of the city considers itself Charedi and 36% Arab. These two groups account for the reason that 51% of all of Jerusalem’s residents are considered to live in the lowest socio-economic category. All of the Arab-majority neighborhoods and 24% of the Jewish neighborhoods (basically the Charedi ones) are ranked the lowest in terms of socio-economics.
Charedi Jews had a 20% lower participation rate (44%) in the workforce than other Jews (65%). Religious Arabs had an even worse workforce participation rate (13%) compared to less religious Arabs (59%), which is more comparable to secular Jews.
In Jerusalem overall, the Arab community is more religious than the Jewish community. Approximately 51% of Jews consider themselves either Charedi (30%) or Observant. This compares to 75% of the Arab population that considers themselves very religious. Both of these figures are much higher than found in other cities in Israel.
As the more religiously fervent have more children and are poor, they live in more crowded living conditions. The average Jewish household in Jerusalem has 1.0 people per room, while the average is much higher at 1.9 Arabs per room in Arab households. Due to this poverty and crowded living conditions, many Arabs take advantage of services from UNRWA: in 2011, the Shuafat Refugee Camp had the biggest gain (+690 people), while the Shuafat neighborhood outside of the UNRWA facility declined by 360 people.
Religious Arabs in Jerusalem are very similar to Jerusalem’s Charedi population, and they constitute a much larger percentage of the Arab community than the strictly observant Jewish community does in theirs. Both of these groups are growing very rapidly. The size and growth of the families, together with poor workforce participation rates have left both groups in poverty.
The unvarnished reality is that both Jews and Arabs in Jerusalem are caught in a similar trap: religious fervor often leads to poverty and crowded living conditions. Curiously, the satisfaction rate of the quality of life and place of work among Jerusalem residents was higher than elsewhere in Israel, while the frustration over income was highest in Jerusalem. It would appear that both the Arab and Jewish residents of Jerusalem are well aware of the trade-offs in life of being extremely religious.
It is unsurprising that the holy city of Jerusalem attracts many religious people – Jews, Muslims and Christians alike. The religiously fervent Jews and Muslims have spurred the city’s population growth (many religious Christians do not marry or have children), and have also increased the city’s poverty levels.
Religious Jews are easy to identify: men by their black hats and black yarmulkes, and women by their dress. Religious Arabs are harder to visually segment, but they are in Jerusalem in much greater proportion than Jews, and account for the rapid growth in the number of Arabs as well as the poorer living standards.
Contrary to the UN reports and Jerusalem “experts” like left-wing radical Danny Seidemann that the New York Times chooses to quote in articles like “Evictions in Walled Old City Stir Up a ‘Hornet’s Nest’“, Arabs in Jerusalem may apply for Israeli citizenship anytime and many do. However, just like the Charedi Jews of Jerusalem, becoming an Israeli citizen is not a ticket out of poverty.
Whether poor or rich, the Arabs in Jerusalem are the fastest growing group of any capital in the Middle East.
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