You too must befriend the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” Deuteronomy 10:19 (The Israel Bible™)
Recent statistics show that the Christian population of Israel is flourishing but not everyone is happy to present that simple truth.
Last week, the Israel Bureau of Statistics published the 2018 figures on Christians living in Israel. According to the report, approximately 175,000 Christians currently live in the Holy Land making up two percent of the total population. Of those, 77.7 percent are Arab Christians. This represents a 2.2 percent growth in Israel’s Christian population in the past year.
The report showed that 70.6 percent of these Christians live in northern Israel. Of the non-Arab Christians, 40.9 percent live in Tel Aviv and other central districts, and 33.8 percent live in the north and in Haifa.
BBC Watch reported on an edition of the BBC Radio 4 program ‘World at One’ aired on December 26th. During the program, the UK Foreign Secretary was set to describe the plight of persecuted Christians around the world. Presenter Jonny Dymond introduced that section of the show by incorrectly saying that just as in other Muslim majority countries in the Middle East, the Christian population in Israel was shrinking.
“More than 200 million Christians are at risk of persecution around the world – a number that has risen sharply over the past few decades according to the Foreign Office,” Dymond said. “In Christianity’s home – the Middle East – the numbers speak for themselves. Four fifths of Iraq’s Christians have fled or been killed. In Israel and the Palestinian territories as those following other religions have grown sharply in number, the Christian population has shrunk. Today the Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt ordered a review into the persecuted Christians around the world and how much help they get from the UK.”
BBC Watch pointed out that the truth was precisely the opposite of Dymond’s statement.
“In contrast to Dymond’s claim that the Christian population of Israel has ‘shrunk,’ throughout the first 70 years of Israel’s existence it steadily grew from 34,000 to 171,900,” BBC Watch wrote. ”Had Dymond confined himself to saying that in the Palestinian territories – the parts of Judea & Samaria governed for decades by the Palestinian Authority and the Gaza Strip now under Hamas control for over a decade – the Christian population has shrunk, he would have been correct. However, his inclusion of Israel in that claim is inaccurate and, particularly in an item about persecution of Christian communities, materially misleading to BBC audiences.”
Citing an article written by Khaled Abu Toameh for the Gatestone Institute, BBC Watch noted that the Christian population in Bethlehem has suffered the most. In addition to being targeted by intimidation and land theft perpetrated by Muslims backed by the Palestinian Authority, the Christian population of Bethlehem has dwindled from more than 70 percent when Israel had sovereignty over the area to less than 15% of the population since the PA took over.