Debate Magazine

Non-religious Jews Are Largest Group (40%) in Israel

By Eowyn @DrEowyn

The Pew Research Center recently undertook its first comprehensive study of religion in Israel.

The study employed face-to-face interviews in Hebrew, Arabic and Russian with 5,601 Israeli adults (18 and older) from October 2014 until May 2015. Those adults included Jews in the West Bank and Arab residents of East Jerusalem.

I was shocked by two of the study’s findings:

  1. The largest demographic group — 40% of 4 out of every 10 Israelisare non-religious (or Hiloni) Jews.
  2. Christians make up only 2% of the population, and are vastly outnumbered by Muslims, who comprise 14% of Israel’s population.

In all, 81% of Israelis identify as Jews, while 19% are non-Jews.

Israel's religious groups

That the largest population group (40%) in Israel are non-religious Jews also calls into question in what sense are they Jewish, given DNA studies finding that the overwhelming majority of Jews in the world today — 90% of over 13 million Jews worldwide — are Ashkenazis, who are not biological descendants of the ancient Hebrews, but rather of the Khazars, an amalgam of Turkic clans that settled the Caucasus in the early centuries CE and converted to Judaism in the 8th century.

Please see a compelling study by Eran Elhaik, “The Missing Link of Jewish European Ancestry: Contrasting the Rhineland and the Khazarian Hypotheses,” the Oxford journal on Genome Biology and Evolution, vol. 5: issue 1, pp. 61-74 (published online Dec. 2012).

While I can see the U.S. government’s military-strategic reasons to support the State of Israel, I remain perplexed by U.S. evangelical Christians’ unconditional and uncritical pro-Israel stance.

To read more about the Pew study’s findings, go here.


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