Israel’s mosaic of Jewish ethnic groups is key to understanding the country

Dec. 4, 2023

Some 16 million people worldwide identify as Jewish – and more than 7 million of them live in Israel.

The country is home to more than 2 million people who are not Jewish, as well – primarily Arab Israelis, who make up 20% to 25% of the population, and more than 100,000 foreign workers. Most Arab Israeli citizens are Muslim, but small minorities adhere to various Christian denominations, as well as the Druze religion.

Even within Israel’s Jewish population, however, there is dizzying diversity. As a historian of Jewish identity, I believe that understanding that diversity is key to understanding Israelis’ behavior amid the current war in Gaza, as well as the country’s long-term resilience.

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