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Sunday, December 31, 2006

Report: Muslims 16.5% of [Israeli] population

Report: Muslims 16.5% of population

The Muslim population in Israel, including East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, was 1.2
million at the end of 2006 - 16.5 percent of the total population of Israel - according
to data released Sunday by the Central Bureau of Statistics.

The CBS traditionally releases data on the size of the Muslim population in Israel around
the three-day festival Id al-Adha that began on Saturday according to most Sunnis or
Sunday according to Shi'ites and some Sunni sects.

Id al-Adha (or Id al-Qurban) the festival of the sacrifice, commemorates the Muslim
version of the binding of Isaac. In the Muslim version it was Ishmael, not Isaac, who was
to be sacrificed by his father Abraham. Ishmael was saved at the last minute after God
replaced him with a ram.

The CBS uses the opportunity of a holiday celebrating a father's willingness to sacrifice his son to release Muslim fertility rates and population growth.

At 4.03 children per woman in 2005, fertility rates among Israeli-Muslims are among the highest in comparison to neighboring Arab countries. They surpass Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Lebanon, Kuwait and Tunisia.

Since the 1950's Muslim Israeli fertility rates have gradually fallen from a level of approximately nine children per woman. After about a decade of stability at five, fertility rates over the past six years have again fallen significantly from 4.74 in 2000 to their present levels.

In contrast, the Jewish fertility rate in 2005 was 2.69.

Two demography experts from the Hebrew University spoke with the Jerusalem Post on condition of anonymity, explaining their unwillingness to be quoted was connected to the fact that the subject of Muslim fertility rates in Israel was a highly charged issue politically.

They said that varies theories have been used to explain the relatively high Muslim-Israeli fertility rates but said that no definitive explanation of the phenomenon has been advanced.

The preferred explanation is the micro-economic theory which states that Muslim-Israeli women have limited economic opportunities in the workplace or do not utilize the opportunities they have (only 14.6 percent of Muslim women are employed compared to 50 percent of Jewish Israelis). As a result, Muslim-Israeli women, who are on average more educated than their peers in neighboring Arab countries, do not see child bearing as a big career sacrifice.

In contrast, the minority status theory posits that Muslim-Israelis see large families as a means of combating threats to their lower social status.

However, one demographer said he was unable to prove the minority status theory especially since it did not seem to hold true regarding Christian- and Druze-Israelis, whose fertility rates were comparable to Jewish Israelis.

Sharp cuts in child allowances since 2002 may have had an impact on fertility rates as well, conjectured one of the demographers.

CBS figures also pointed to a very young Muslim population. Some 43% were 14 years old or younger and about a quarter of all children aged 14 years or younger were Muslim in 2005.

Average monthly income per household for Muslims was NIS 7,055, compared to a national average of NIS 11,680 while consumption per household was surprisingly higher than income, at NIS 9,892 compared to the national average of NIS 10,816.

Muslims might be able to spend more than they earn due to social benefits that supplement
their income.

Some 59 percent of Muslim men were employed compared to 60.7 percent of Jewish men.

Muslim unemployment was 11.9 percent compared to 9 percent among Jews.

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors. Originally posted at Please do link to these articles, quote from them and forward them by email to friends with this notice. Other uses require written permission of the author.


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