Israel’s Expanding Christian Population

Even as the proportion of Christians among Palestinians and Israeli Arabs has shrunk, the Jewish state’s Christian population has been steadily rising due to an influx of foreign workers and refugees from the Philippines, Eritrea, Sudan, and elsewhere. Abandoned churches have been restored to use, clergy have begun to conduct services in a variety of languages, and Catholics have even begun to celebrate Sunday mass on Friday and Saturday mornings to accommodate the Israeli work week. Sara Toth Stub writes:

The influx of Christian migrant workers from places like the Philippines is not a phenomenon unique to Israel; it is occurring across the Middle East. Of the ten countries in which Christianity is experiencing its most rapid growth, six are Muslim states in the Middle East. . . . In places like Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the number of Christians is expanding at a rate of more than nine percent per year due to the influx of migrant workers. . . .
In places like Saudi Arabia, where there is no freedom of religion, migrants are forced to gather in secret to worship. But in other countries, like the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, officials have allowed the construction of churches in certain places. This is all happening as other places in the region, mainly Iraq and Syria, have seen continuing violence against Christians that has driven out entire communities. . . .

In Israel, this influx has resulted in a fusion of identities, especially among those migrants who have been here for many years. It is even more pronounced among their Hebrew-speaking children.

Take, for instance, Gina Canlas, a Filipina who met her Turkish Muslim boyfriend in Israel and is raising their son as a Catholic:

Canlas, who has temporary residency status in Israel, speaks mainly Hebrew with her boyfriend and son. She said she feels comfortable as a Catholic in Tel Aviv. “In Israel you can do what you want,” Canlas said. “I don’t feel oppressed. It’s a liberated and open country.”

Read more at Tower

More about: Israel & Zionism, Israeli Christians, Israeli society, Refugees, Tel Aviv

How America Sowed the Seeds of the Current Middle East Crisis in 2015

Analyzing the recent direct Iranian attack on Israel, and Israel’s security situation more generally, Michael Oren looks to the 2015 agreement to restrain Iran’s nuclear program. That, and President Biden’s efforts to resurrect the deal after Donald Trump left it, are in his view the source of the current crisis:

Of the original motivations for the deal—blocking Iran’s path to the bomb and transforming Iran into a peaceful nation—neither remained. All Biden was left with was the ability to kick the can down the road and to uphold Barack Obama’s singular foreign-policy achievement.

In order to achieve that result, the administration has repeatedly refused to punish Iran for its malign actions:

Historians will survey this inexplicable record and wonder how the United States not only allowed Iran repeatedly to assault its citizens, soldiers, and allies but consistently rewarded it for doing so. They may well conclude that in a desperate effort to avoid getting dragged into a regional Middle Eastern war, the U.S. might well have precipitated one.

While America’s friends in the Middle East, especially Israel, have every reason to feel grateful for the vital assistance they received in intercepting Iran’s missile and drone onslaught, they might also ask what the U.S. can now do differently to deter Iran from further aggression. . . . Tehran will see this weekend’s direct attack on Israel as a victory—their own—for their ability to continue threatening Israel and destabilizing the Middle East with impunity.

Israel, of course, must respond differently. Our target cannot simply be the Iranian proxies that surround our country and that have waged war on us since October 7, but, as the Saudis call it, “the head of the snake.”

Read more at Free Press

More about: Barack Obama, Gaza War 2023, Iran, Iran nuclear deal, U.S. Foreign policy