I have been getting feedback from those more knowledgeable in demographic studies and I am sure there will be a proper academic response to Ian Lustick's article I posted here. Yaakov Faitelson has already reacted with a long note (he had already been working on an article which will be published soon).
Here are some thoughts I have been receiving (they are anonymous simply because the issue is not one which can be countered in 300 words):
a) while Lustick notes "bias" of Ettinger and others, his own political bias, such as in these throwaway remarks - "Realizing that most Israeli Jews fear, suspect, or loathe Arabs" and "Their response was to exploit opportunities to expel and prevent the return of up to three quarters of a million Palestinian Arabs from the territory that became the State of Israel in 1948", are quite apparent.
b) he engages in delegitimization of his opponents as Ettinger and Sohar before even considering their arguments by highlighting their 'right wing credentials'. Left wingers escape being identified as such (for they have no political bias?). Palestinian statistics are presented - by the Palestinian Authority officials and pro-Pal. enthusiasts - as facts and we are to assume that they are rock solid with no doubts because those researchers are neutral, correct?
c) he accuses those he opposes as having no background in demographics, an odd argument. Actually, any smart person with an inquiring mind and reading comprehension can be fairly self-taught. His critical tone is unbecoming.
d) although he credibly argues against ZSW's methodology, in the end, he does concedes that ZSW were at least partially correct in that there was a population gap. Thus, extensive fact-checking is required which means we really are unsure as to what the real numbers are and what they mean and what they point to.
e) a real problem of his is that statistics aren't cited much after 2006 and most of the articles and other data he bases himself on are from 1993-2006. Since the demographic situation undeniably has steadily improved in favor of the Jewish population since 2006, it could be argued that the approach of the ZSW is on the mark.
f) The fertility rates are truly important. Their effect is delayed but they are important for the future. Yes, youthfulness of the population must be taken into account. But this, ultimately, works in the Jews' favour. Consider the graphs here and also here. At first glance, the graph relating to the Jewish population displays aging and that of the Arabs shows a youthful character, the bottom of both graphs shows the opposite trend. Note, the ratio is roughly 3:1 Jews in the 0-4 age bracket. The bars are continually "bubbling upwards" and in 20-30 years time, the 0-4 age bracket will be in the fertile region. What the fertility rate is at that time will matter a great deal. More pressingly, the bulge in the Arab pyramid is from 5-14; thus, the fertility rate in ~5-15 years is also important, and it will decide how strongly the bulge Lustick mentions will be able to perpetuate in future generations. Assuming current trends, it won't matter much.
g) The problem with Lustick's argumentation is that he makes his "technical analysis" of Ettinger-Zimmerman Project on the basis of wrong argumentation by heavily quoting heavily Arnon Sofer and others who made their analysis based on statistic data extrapolated to the future. He brought nothing new based on his own research based on independent data base sources, while ignoring the real development of the demographic trend and therefore his conclusions do not hold water.
He doesn't recognize the professionalism of such well known and awarded demographer as Nicolas Eberstadt and tries to diminish the quality of his expertise by claiming that Dr. Eberstadt is specializing on the Far East which is simply not true.
g) in contrary to Lustick, Faitelson did make his own independent analysis taking in consideration the dynamic development of the statistical data running through the time. His findings were shown to be correct from years ago especially his point that the Arab Fertility Rate will start to decline towards convergence with the Jewish in the first two decades of the 21st century. This is now recognized also by Dr. Ahmed Hleihel, the Head of the Demographic department of the ICBS, who is a decent professional researcher and honest scientist and an Israeli Arab so his opinion carries even more weight than of the Jewish one.
f) what most be given great weight is that the demographic trend in the Land of Israel favors the Jews. Prof. Roberto Bachi's projection from 1972 has had to be postponed some 10 times already as to when the Jews will become a minority, from 1990 and up to 2028. If his projection was consistently wrong, what does this mean? It could mean that the time favors the Jews as shown for the last 26 years.