Tuesday, January 22, 2013

How Many Americans in YESHA?

How many?

From a recent PhD dissertation*:
As of June 2009, the U.S. Consulate placed the aggregated number of Jewish-American and Palestinian-Americans in these areas at 96,600 citizens.6 (It should be noted that the scope of the geographic region utilized for their internal demographic calculations actually contradicts the public stance of the U.S. Government, which does not recognize Gilo, Ramot, and the Muslim Quarter of the Old City as part of the Jerusalem municipality — and thereby excludes the large number of Jewish-Americans living in this zone.) In Fall 2009, I received some additional confidential data for the West Bank, which has an estimated population of 30,000 American citizens, of which 18,000-20,000 are Palestinian-Americans living in the Ramallah area and 10,000-12,000 are Jewish-Americans living in settlements.7 This would put the Jewish-American settler presence at approximately 4% of the total Israeli settler population. However, the U.S. Consulate relies upon American citizens in the West Bank to take the initiative to self-register themselves and their children and considers the actual number of those eligible for consular administration to be somewhat higher. 

I contend that their population statistics significantly underestimate the true figure in light of the fact that Jewish-American settlers have mounted a vigorous and successful campaign against consular registration in protest over U.S. Government policy that does not recognize the occupied territories as part of the State of Israel, or Jerusalem as its capital, as reflected on consulate-issued birth certificates and other documents. When I brought this discrepancy to the attention of a consular official in fall 2009, my contact admitted that the number of Palestinian-Americans was likely overestimated and reiterated that between uncounted Jewish-Americans in the West Bank due to the registration controversy and those excluded from the demographic calculation in the Jerusalem municipality by its jurisdictional definitions, the American-Israeli presence is likely significantly larger. This official even added that her sources estimate that the Jewish-American settler constituency comprises approximately 10%-12% of the total settler population, which substantively aligns with the 15% figure cited by the other three sources utilized in this dissertation.8
As discussed, these sources are mutually contradictory and often politically biased, posing serious limitations to our knowledge of how many Jewish-American settlers are living beyond the Green Line. Yet, a comparison of data sets suggests that this constituency constitutes approximately 15% (45,000 individuals) of the total settler population. I hope that a comprehensive, professional, and accessible survey by statisticians will be undertaken to provide further data for scholars in the future. Moreover, it is important to recognize that while the number of Jewish-Americans settlers living in the occupied territories may be large and even over-represented within the general Israeli population in the occupied territories, statistics alone are not a sufficient indicator of their political and social impact over the past four decades. I now turn to a demographic profile, which may help illuminate trends in the participation of Jewish-American immigrants within the Israeli settler movement.

6 U.S. Consulate, Jerusalem, Political Officer I, Correspondence with the author, June 2009
Due to the confidential nature of the data provided, I have complied with the request of the U.S. Consulate, Jerusalem not to specifically name any personnel I interviewed in this dissertation.

7U.S. Consulate, Jerusalem, Political Office II, Correspondence with the author, Fall 2009
8 Ibid.

Dr. Sara Hirschhorn is a graduate of Yale and the University of Chicago and is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies at Brandeis University, researching the Israeli settler movement, the Arab-Israeli conflict, and the U.S.-Israel relationship.

Her dissertation, '"City on a Hilltop: The Participation of Jewish-American Immigrants Within the Israeli Settler Movement, 1967-1987," is now available on Proquest.

This was from pgs. 463-465




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