Yaakov Feitelson has a new study examining demographic trends in Israel and the Palestinians territories. His bottom line is that there are more Jews than there were expected to be, and fewer Palestinians. The latter sections of his study will probably be rejected by all sorts of people. I once took a course in demography, and occasionally dabble in it (as a reader, not a researcher), and if someone serious explains why his projections may not be solid I'll listen with an open mind. It's got a tendentious whiff to it.
The front parts of the study, on the other hand, confirm everything I've seen over the past five years or so. The birthrate of the Israeli Arabs is declining, as is that of the West Bank and even the Gaza Palestinians, while the Jewish birthrate is inching up.
The rise of the Jewish birthrate contradicts everything I've ever heard about how demography in developed society works, and it seems to be the result of four trends, all of which boil down to one.
1. The stratospheric Haredi birthrate, which shows no sign of abating, even as the Haredi women join the workforce in ever growing numbers.
2. The high birthrate of the modern orthodox, even though they are generally highly educated and middle class or above. They are however a smaller group than the Haredi, and they're not having the gigantic familes the Haredi have.
3. The unusually high birthrate of the secular Israelis, when compared to most Western societies. Secular Israelis, as a general rule, get married and have two or three kids. They've been doing this for a number of generations, and seem intent on continuing. Compare that to the Italians, Iranians or Russians.
4. The rise in the birthrate among the former Soviet Jews. These came here mostly about twenty years ago, with typical three-generation family units which were producing one, or at the most two, children. Once in Israel they managed to have grandma live somewhere else, not with her children; the children soon moved into Israel's middle class and adopted the mores of that group (see the previous paragraph about the secular Israelis).
The common denominator of all four trends is that Jews in Israel feel good about their lives and their prospects, so they have children who will enjoy those prospects. It's a profound optimism which is at work, aided perhaps by the memories of recent catastrophe - which reinforces the optimism, since present and future are so obviously better than the past.
Feitelson seems sort of to be saying the Jews can control all of Erez Israel and still remain the majority for the foreseeable future. This may be true but is politically unconvincing to me: even if he's right and in 2050 there will be a 60-40% majority of Jews, why would Zionism wish to have a country with 40% non-Jews? On the other hand, the implication that by then the ratio of Jews inside Israel itself (including Jerusalem, I'm assuming) will be 82% and rising is comforting, since with numbers like that there will be no contradiction between full democracy and a Jewish state.