Over 140,000 Druze in Israel, Statistics Show

YERUSHALAYIM -
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin at a meeting with religious officials of the Druze community. (Haim Zach/GPO)

Some 141,000 members of the Druze communities live in Israel, the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) said in a study, totaling 1.6 percent of Israel’s population. That is an increase of nearly ten-fold since the establishment of the state in 1948, when slightly more than 14,000 Druze lived here. Among the reasons for the increase has been natural growth, with more live births and more babies surviving into childhood, but especially because of the inclusion of Golan Druze in the total number, the result of Israel’s 1981 annexation of the Golan Heights.

The growth occurred despite a sharp drop in the birth rate of Druze families. In 1964 the average Druze family had 7.9 children, with that number falling to 4.1 in 1990, and 3.1 in 2000. By 2016 the average Druze family had 2.2 children – fewer than the average Jewish family, which has 3.2 children.

Ninety-eight percent of Israeli Druze live in one of 19 towns and villages, 17 of which are in the Galilee and Golan, and two in the Haifa area. Daliat al-Carmel, where 16,500 Druze live, is the single largest concentration of the group in Israel. Daliat al-Carmel is followed by Yarcha (16,200 Druze), Marar (12,700), Beit Jann (11,600), and the far northern Golan community of Majdal Shams (10,800).

As a result of the lower birth rate, the average age of Israeli Druze has increased in recent years. In 2016 the mean age in the community was 27.5. Some 27 percent of the total Druze population in 2016 was under age 14, while about 6 percent were 65 or older. In 2000 the mean age in the community was 21.9 years of age.

Druze are also a well-educated community. In the current school year, 5,500 Druze students are registered in institutions of higher learning, 8- percent more than a year earlier. Since 2000 the number of Druze students in colleges and universities more than tripled, the numbers show. Of the students currently in school, 79.8 percent are studying toward a bachelor’s degree, while nearly 20 percent are working toward a graduate degree. 1.1 percent are studying toward a doctorate, the CBS numbers showed.