Anti-Israel people and organizations throw around pernicious smears that Jews are “colonial invaders” that engage in “ethnic cleansing” of Arabs, and other attacks which have no basis in fact, in an attempt to win points, money, land and other goodies from Israel and pro-Palestinian supporters.
So let’s review actual numbers rather than a narrative of an upset Arab shopkeeper talking to CNN.
As of 2019, the population of Jerusalem was 936,400. It stands as the largest city in Israel, twice the population of Tel Aviv with 460,600 people.
The breakdown in Jerusalem was 355,300 in western Jerusalem, which was 98.6% Jewish, and the northern/eastern/southern section of the city with 581,100 people, of which 39.1% were Jewish. Overall, the city was 61.7% Jewish and 38.3% Arab. The 61.7% Jewish population was the lowest percentage in the city since 1946. Jerusalem has had a continuous Jewish majority since the late 1860’s.
When Israel officially annexed the eastern part of Jerusalem and declared the unified city as its capital in 1980, there were 407,100 people in the city, of which 74% were Jewish. From 1980 to 2019, the population of the city grew 2.3 times, with the Jewish population growing 1.9 times and the Arab population growing 3.4 times. To state that Israel is committing “ethnic cleansing” in Jerusalem while the growth of Arabs dwarves the growth of Jews is patently absurd.
In every year since 1978 (with the sole exception of 1990), the growth rate of Arabs in Jerusalem exceeded the annual growth rate of Jews. That fact is also true of the growth rate of Arabs in the country generally. The sole year of exception, 1990, saw a huge influx of Jews from Russia which accounted for the anomaly.
The growth of Jews has principally come as a result of natural population growth. The fertility rate of Jewish women in Jerusalem now stands at 4.3 children, up from 3.7 in 2000. That compares to the fertility rate of Arab women in Jerusalem which has been in decline, down to 3.2 in 2019 from 4.3 in 2000. Jewish women crossed the Arab fertility rate in 2012 and have continued to outpace Arab fertility rates since then. The change has led to a slowdown in the Arab growth rate which grew at annual rates of 3.6%, 3.1% and 2.6% for the periods 1990-2000, 2000-2010 and 2010-2019, respectively.
Not surprisingly, the death rate for Jews exceeds that of Arabs as the Arabs have a higher percentage of youths.
The lack of affordable housing has been the main issue driving a net negative migration of Jews out of Jerusalem. In 2019, over 20,000 Jews left Jerusalem to places like Beit Shemesh, Tel Aviv and Beitar Illit. That compared to fewer than 12,000 Israeli Jews who moved to Jerusalem from Bnei Brak and the cities mentioned above. Jerusalem trailed all major cities in the construction of new apartments (37% between 2017-2019), including in the cities of Rishon LeZion, Tel Aviv, Haifa and Petah Tikva.
Both Jews and Arabs have freedom to move within Jerusalem. In 2019, of the 52,390 people who moved homes within the Jerusalem municipality, roughly 67% were Jews, close to the 62% of the city’s population. In 2018, the percentage of Jews moving within the city was lower at 60% and the Arabs at 40%.
Even while the population of Arabs in Jerusalem skyrocketed relative to Jews, the density of Arabs in their homes was cut significantly. In 1990, there was an average of 2.3 Arabs living in each room in Jerusalem; that number was cut to 1.8 Arabs per room by 2019, an improvement of 22%. Over the same period, the density of Jews in homes barely moved from 1.1 to 1.0 people per room. The overall improvement was driven by two factors: increased housing for Arabs and construction of larger apartments.
In 1990, there were 23,600 Arab households in Jerusalem, a figure that grew 188% to 68,000 in 2019. The total number of Jewish households increased a relatively modest 64% in comparison over the same timeframe. The second factor of bigger apartments in the city is a recent trend. Since 2017, over 30% of new dwellings have more than five rooms, reversing a historic trend which saw more smaller apartments. As recently as 2016, 64% of new apartments were built with four rooms; in 2020, 62.4% were built with five or more.
After Israel took eastern Jerusalem from the Jordanians in a defensive war in 1967 and then annexed it, the Israeli government afforded all of the Arab residents to apply for citizenship. While few did so in the early years, over the past ten years, roughly 400 Jerusalem Arabs were granted Israeli citizenship annually. That number spiked to 1,200 people in 2019, as the Israeli government put more resources into expediting the citizenship review process.
The charges of Jewish “colonialists” committing “ethnic cleansing” against Arabs in Jerusalem are not simply outrageous lies but a disgraceful cover-up of the actual attempted mass Arab genocide of Israeli Jews right after the Holocaust, and the actual ethnic cleansing of the Jews from their holiest city of Jerusalem by Jordanian and Palestinian Arabs.
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