Question asked of Jerusalem Post columnists: "The capital's Arab population has increased at more than twice the rate of its Jewish inhabitants over the last decade, a recent survey has found. Another study predicts that if Jerusalem's borders remain unchanged, only 60% of the capital's residents will be Jews by 2020, with the remaining 40% Arab. If this indeed is the case, should something be done to preserve the capital's Jewish majority and if so what?" For all replies, see "Burning Issues #32: Jerusalem Demographics"
Lebanon offers the classic case of overreach in the modern Middle East, where the Maronite Christians made use of their strengths to bust out of their small domain and include substantial numbers of Muslims in "le grand Liban." Over a half century later, they had cause to rue this ambition, when they were demographically outnumbered, militarily defeated, and politically shunted aside by other religious communities.
It will be exactly forty years in a month since Israeli forces captured the whole of Jerusalem - making this an especially apt moment to reflect on the overly-ambitious geographic aspirations Israelis have had since then for their presence in Jerusalem. Demographic trends suggest it makes more sense from a Zionist perspective for them to pull back to Jerusalem proper, recognizing that "le grand Jerusalem may produce as unhappy a future for the minority population as did its Lebanese precursor. (May 9, 2007)
May 15, 2007 update: The American-Israel Demographic Research Group issued a 2,400-word study today, "Realities on the Ground: Jerusalem 2007-2025," that takes issue with the widely-held assessment that the Arab population of Jerusalem will gain at the expense of the Jewish one. Looking at data from Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics, it finds:
For the first time since 1948, Israel holds a strong demographic advantage in Jerusalem. The startling, but often unreported, fact is that in 2005 Jewish and Arab fertility rates were the same 3.9 births per woman. The Jewish fertility rates are even higher in West Bank suburbs where fertility levels have reached 4.7 births/woman, a level higher than Arabs residents in the same area.
The study's authors, Bennett Zimmerman, Roberta Seid, Michael L. Wise, and Yoram Ettinger, conclude that "There is no inherent demographic crisis for Jerusalem's Jews."