Jerusalem Population Facts

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.

Population Breakdown

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.

The population growth in Jerusalem of Arabs is significantly higher than for Jews.

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.

Housing

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.

The growth of Arab households in Jerusalem dwarves the growth in the number of Jewish households.

Citizenship

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.


Related First One Through articles:

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The New York Times All Out Assault on Jewish Jerusalem

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Al Jazeera (Qatar) Evicts Jews and Judaism from Jerusalem. Time to Return the Favor

Oh Abdullah, Jordan is Not So Special

Jerusalem’s Old City Is a Religious War for Muslim Arabs

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Arabs in Jerusalem

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.

OldCity (14)
Arab Women in Jerusalem entering the Western Wall Plaza
(photo: First.One.Through)

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
Charedi Jews 42% 6% 18
Muslim Arabs 40% 3% 20
Rest of Jews 26% 14% 31

Christian Arabs

23% 13%

33

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.

Summary

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.


Related First.One.Through articles:

An Inconvenient Truth: Population Statistics in Israel/Palestine

The Populations statistics in Israel/Palestine do not support the Arab narrative

Palestinians agree that Israel rules all of Jerusalem, but the World Treats the City as Divided

The Battle for Jerusalem

Are you trying to understand Ethnic Cleansing in Israel?

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