Palestinians Worldwide: A Demographic-Study

In their book, Palestinians Worldwide: A Demographic Study published by the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies, Youssef Courbage and Hala Naufal discuss the demographic aspects of Palestinians in today's world, in their geopolitical and economic context. The demographic analysis in this book objectively measures the demographic facts relating to the past and present of the Palestinians, providing a basis for scientific predictions regarding their demographic future, attempting to identify the migration tendencies that have shaped Palestinian immigrant communities, and - as much as possible given the data available - to provide demographic projections for the number of Palestinians in the world by the year 2050. At the same time, this work presents their study's findings on the features of Palestinian society in every country in the world.


In Palestine, Israel and the Diaspora

The book consists of 12 chapters. Chapter One, "The State of Palestine: a Greater Number of Palestinians Despite Catastrophe," the demographic conflict between the Palestinians and Israel, demographic transformation among the Palestinians, the demographic characteristics of each of the Gaza Strip, Jerusalem, and Israeli settlements – with an eye to the situation in historic Palestine, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip.

The second chapter, "Palestinians in Israel," acknowledges that it is impossible to predict the future, while venturing that their expulsion has become all but unimaginable. That said, in light of the currently existing large Palestinian cohort and inevitable demographic growth, areas with a large block of Palestinian population such as Galilee and the "Triangle" may well be subject to a form of enhanced segregated and extreme isolation, through rigorous matrices of control, as in the worst days of South African apartheid.

In "Jordan: The Largest Number of Diaspora Palestinians," details how the issue of the numbers of Palestinians in Jordan is a critical one for the Palestinians themselves, as well as for the Israelis who on occasion appear anxious to find an alternative homeland for Palestinians outside the West Bank. From this third chapter, it emerges that Palestinians are far from accounting for most of Jordan's population, even when including foreign-resident Palestinians in their numbers. Notwithstanding the unavailability of precise data, the authors' research demonstrates, with evident concern for the greatest possible objectivity, that the Palestinians remain a key element of the demography of Jordan, but not one seeking or in a position to seize control –  beneficially dispelling misapprehensions that often arise in this regard.

In Syria, Lebanon and Egypt

In Chapter Four, "The Palestinians in Syria: From Stability to a Second Displacement," Courbage and Naufal explain the fear in Palestinian circles that Palestinian endeavors to migrate to any European country and replace their lost former stability in Syria may be exploited when Palestinian families re-settle, in exchange for concession of their Right of Return. The authors expect the number of Palestinians in Syria to reach one million two hundred thousand in 2050, pointing out that their number has considerably decreased due to low fertility and their displacement to multiple countries from which it is very unlikely they will return, their migration thus becoming final.

In Chapter Five, "Palestinians in Lebanon: From Right of Return to Right to Flight," the authors note that the demographic weight of the Palestinians in Lebanon is no longer what it was at the beginning of their seeking refuge in the country. In 1948, Palestinian refugees represented about 10 percent of the population in Lebanon; they represented 5.5 percent of the total population at the end of 2017. After a presence of sixty-nine years in Lebanon, they are still deprived of their rights to education, medicine, work, health and social security and ownership, on a double-edged pretext of rejection of resettlement and upholding the Right to Return.

The sixth chapter, "Palestinians in Egypt: From Integration to Amnesia," discusses the estimated current number of 30 to 100 thousand Palestinians in Egypt, noting that given their small number and diffusion throughout the country, they appear to be a drop in the "sea" of Egyptians (who number than 92 million at the end of 2016).


In Iraq and the Gulf

In Chapter Seven, "The Palestinians in Iraq: Modest Accommodation for Palestinians," the authors show that the number of Palestinians in Iraq has fallen so far below a low demographic threshold that their extinction is inevitable in the long or short-term. Certainly, their potential for demographic growth has deteriorated markedly with low rates of marriage and childbirth; but emigration outside of Iraq constitutes the "knock-out blow," rendering the elimination of the Palestinian community in Iraq a strong possibility by the year 2050.

Palestinians in the Arab Gulf region take on special prominence among countries of the Palestinian diaspora, as the authors explain in Chapter Eight, "The Palestinians in the Arab Gulf States: an Educated and Selected Elite," in which they observe that this prominence is "not related to their numerical importance, as their demographic weight is not significant, compared to other countries from Diaspora, especially since they are spread through six countries; but rather to their economic role, and to a certain degree, their political influence with regard to the Palestinian issue."

In Western Europe and Scandinavia

Chapter Nine, "The Palestinians in Western Europe (France, the United Kingdom and Germany)" limits itself to the study of only three Western European countries for the following reasons: first, France's relationship with Palestine and importance in the geopolitics of the Middle East and in efforts to resolve the Palestinian issue; second, the substantial efforts exerted by the Palestinian community in the United Kingdom to establish institutions aimed at protecting their political and social interests; and third, the model that Germany offers for reaching an understanding of demographic realities relevant to its foreign population, and especially the Palestinians, due to the abundance of quantitative data on basic aspects of their demographic dynamics, as well as Germany's hosting the largest number of resident Palestinians of any country in Europe.

In Chapter Ten, "The Palestinians in Scandinavia," the authors examine the conditions of Palestinians in Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Iceland, and Finland. Although Palestinian communities in these countries are not large, they take on political and symbolic significance with Sweden figuring prominently among the few western European countries that recognized the state of Palestine. Palestinians have been able to integrate themselves well in the social and political sphere in Denmark, with representatives of the community as parliamentarians and members of municipal councils. Norway's active interest in the Palestinian issue in the Middle East stands is clearly visible in sharp relief against the background of the Palestinians who were fated to seek asylum with her, And in the same vein, Iceland is the first European country to recognize the state of Palestine and establish diplomatic relations with it.

In the United States and Chile

In the eleventh chapter, "Palestinians in the United States of America: Between Integration and the Feeling of Belonging," notwithstanding the absence of accurate data on Palestinians in the United States, the authors conclude from available estimates that between 1988 and 2005 the Palestinian population increased from about two hundred to two hundred and thirty-six thousand persons, with their numbers currently estimated at some 310 thousand individuals. Pending the results of the anticipated Palestinian population census, and considering the prevailing social and economic conditions in the United States, they expect that the number of Palestinians will grow to reach 344 thousand persons around 2025, and 441 thousand by 2050.

As for Chapter Twelve, "Palestinians in Chile: Symbolic and Political Significance," the authors consider how a large number of Palestinian organizations in the country are a mark of distinction for Chile, as is the fact that Palestinians are affiliated with the most educated sectors of Chilean society. Their undertaking to maintain their high social status and geographical concentration in very specific locations in the country and particularly in cities is another distinctive advantage that renders it possible, through appropriate and simple techniques, to identify Palestinian residents, without risk of duplicate counting or omission.



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