Israel is a sovereign state found in West Asia. It borders Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon as well as the territories of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. The country has a coastline along the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. The seat of the Israeli government is located in Jerusalem, although the country's dominion over the city has a partial acknowledgment from other nations. The city of Tel Aviv is the country’s technological and economic center where most embassies and consulates of other countries are located.
According to the country’s Central Bureau of Statistics, there were 9,021,000 people in Israel as of 2019, and approximately 74.24% were Jews of different backgrounds, 20.95% were Arabs of different religions, while the other remaining 4.81% were persons who were categorized as others. The population of Israel has been growing at a rate of 2.0% annually.
Israeli Jews are the Citizens of Israel who are of Jewish faith or ethnicity, though it also refers to the descendants of Israeli Jews immigrants outside of Israel. Most Israeli Jews are found in Israel, and some are in different countries around the world. The Jewish population in Israel includes Sephardic Jews, Ashkenazi Jews, Mizrahi Jews, Karaite Jews, Bene Israel, Cochin Jews, and Beta Israel among other groups. The Jewish ethnic group exhibits a wide range of Jewish cultural traditions which includes a wide range of religious observance ranging from Haredi to hilonim Jewish communities who lead a secular life. More than 25% of the school-going children of Jewish population ancestry are of Sephardi/Mizrahi and Ashkenazi descent. It is also estimated that over 50% of the Jewish population has at least a partial Sephardi/Mizrahi descent. According to the traditional rabbinic, which has been adopted by the government, it is only Halaka, which can define who is and who is not a Jew on the concept of Jewish identity, parentage or lineage for any person seeking to define themselves, or claim to be a Jew. Believing or converting to Judaism does not qualify to make one a Jew, and conversely, non-believing of the Jewish traditions or even conversion to another religion does not make one lose Jewish status. As of December 2017, there were 6.55 million Israeli Jews in Israel, which was equivalent to 4.6% of the total population, which includes the population of East Jerusalem and the Golan Arab population.
The Arabs in Israel refer to Arab-Israelis or Israeli citizens who are Arabs. The ethnic group identifies themselves as Palestinians or Palestinian citizens of Israel while others refer themselves as Israeli-Palestinians. According to a survey carried out in 2017, it was found that 16% of Arabs identify themselves and prefer to be identified as Israeli Arab, while others prefer to be identified as Palestinians in Israel. About 17% of the Arab population prefers the name Palestinian Arab. The majority of Arab citizens, regardless of their religion speaks the Levantine Arabic, and those living in the northern part of Israel, speak Lebanese Arabic. In the central part of Israel, Arabs speak the Palestinian dialect of Arabic while those in the Negev desert region speak Bedouin dialects. Others have absorbed some of the Israeli words and phrases to their modern dialect in their language, and they are identified as Israeli Arabic dialect. Most of the Arab citizens in the country are bilingual, and the second language is Modern Hebrew. Most Arabs are Muslims of the Sunni Islam, and some are Arab Christians, while others belong to various denominations. According to the country’s Central Bureau of Statistics, the population of Arabs in the country in 2019 was estimated to be about 1.89 million people representing about 20.95% of the country's population.
Druze in Israel
Druze in Israel referred to a unique ethnic and religious minority of Arab citizens of Israel. The Druze originally were Muslims, although presently, they are not considered Muslims. The Israeli government has designated the Druze as a distinct ethnic group following the request of their community leaders. They are Arabic-speaking, and they can serve in Israel defense forces. The Druze ethnic community lives mainly in the northern part of the country.
Other Minority Ethnic Groups In Israel
Other ethnic groups in Israel include Arameans who are Arabic-speaking Christians. They are believed to be the descendants of the northwest Semitic people in the present-day region of Syria or the biblical Aram. In 2016, there were about 16,000 people who identified themselves as Arameans. Maronites are another minority ethnic group in Israel who are Arabic speaking Christians, and they were estimated to be about 2,700 in Israel and others are living in Lebanon and other countries. Samaritans refer to an ethnic group in Israel who claim to be descendants of the tribe of Manasseh and Ephraim the two sons of Joseph and descendants of ancient Samaritans who lived in the present-day West Bank region. Other minority ethnic groups in the country include Armenians and Assyrians among others.
About the Author
Benjamin Elisha Sawe holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Statistics and an MBA in Strategic Management. He is a frequent World Atlas contributor.
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