The Sunday Times joins media tradition of blaming Israel for ruining Christmas

An op-ed published at The Sunday Times on Dec. 19th by Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and Hosam Naoum, an Anglican Archbishop in Jerusalem, falsely blames Israel for driving out Christians from the region.

Though there’s nothing new about British outlets peddling such smears about the Jewish state around Christmas, typically such propaganda is published at the Guardian, rather than The Times.

The piece reminds readers that the first Christmas took place against “the backdrop of the genocide of infants”, evoking toxic libels about the ‘ethnic cleansing’ of Palestinians – or, possibly, something even darker.  It then notes that “Christmas is a time when we think about the land of the Bible” before citing complaints by Jerusalem church leaders that radical (Israeli) groups are, through vandalism of and physical attacks, engaged  “in a systematic attempt to drive the Christian community out of Jerusalem and other parts of the Holy Land”.

Strangely, though, the authors later acknowledge – consistent with Freedom House reports each year – that “Christians in Israel enjoy democratic and religious freedoms that are a beacon in the region”, and that “the overall number of Christians” in Israel “has risen”.  In fact, according to Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), the Christian community grew 1.4% in 2020.

So, how can they claim that Christians are being “driven from the Holy Land” whilst also acknowledging and that the number of Christians in Israel “has risen” and that the Jewish state is a “beacon in the region” for “religious freedom”?

Most of their argument seems based on unsubstantiated claims of Jerusalem “church leaders” who described “countless incidents” of “physical and verbal assaults against priests and other clergy, and attacks on Christian churches”. Yet, while there have been a some incidents of vandalism in recent years, the authors fail to cite even one actual example of physical violence – nor are are any statistics provided.

But, the dearth of real evidence that Christians are under siege and being ‘driven from Israel’ doesn’t prevent them from citing an ominous, though anonymous and anecdotal, remark like this:

…when you speak to Palestinian Christians in Jerusalem today, you will often hear this cry: “In 15 years’ time, there’ll be none of us left!”

Interestingly, the article often speaks of the threat to Christianity in the “Holy Land”, a term which elides the fact that the area of greatest concern for Christians in the region is not within Israel, but in the Palestinian territories.

Whilst annual reports by Open Doors, which fights the persecution of Christians around the world, shows that Israel is one of the few Mid-East countries where Christians are NOT endangered, a 2019 Open Doors report put “the Palestinian Territories” on its World Watch List of countries where the persecution of Christians was especially problematic.  The report cited “Islamic oppression” as the main source of persecution.

Screenshot from Open Doors 2019 World Watch List video.

Further, as Jake Wallis Simons noted in an article at the Spectator, not only do Christians in Israel enjoy religious freedom, but the community, by most empirical measures, is thriving:

The education figures alone tell their own story. More Christian Arabs leave school with grades that will get them into university than any other group in the country (71.2 per cent). More Christian women attend higher education than from any other background, excelling particularly in medicine, engineering, architecture and law.

Moreover, according to data from Israel’s CBS, surveys shows that “84% of Christians are satisfied with their life: 24% answered ‘very satisfied’ and 60% were ‘satisfied’.”  Far from being “driven out” of Israel, the Christian community in the world’s only Jewish state is growing, well-educated, successful and thriving.

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  1. says: Frank Adam

    Justin Welby was a Shell or BP exec before he went in for religion.

    Oil men also have their ‘deformation professionelle’ like any other profession.

  2. says: Sid+Levine

    According to

    “Welby worked for eleven years in the oil industry, five of them for the French oil company Elf Aquitaine based in Paris. In 1984 he became treasurer of the oil exploration group Enterprise Oil plc in London, where he was mainly concerned with West African and North Sea oil projects. He retired from his executive position in 1989”

    Further, his father – Gavin Welby, born Bernard Gavin Weiler in Ruislip, Middlesex[9][10] was the son of Bernard Weiler, a German-Jewish immigrant and importer of luxury items who changed the family name to Welby shortly after the First World War broke out.[9][11][12][13] Gavin Welby stood for Parliament in the 1951 and 1955 general elections as a Conservative candidate. Welby describes his early childhood as “messy”: Gavin and Jane Welby were both alcoholics. They divorced in 1959, when Justin was three years old,[14] and he was placed in Gavin Welby’s custody. In 1960 Gavin Welby was engaged to the actress Vanessa Redgrave, who called the engagement off after her mother Lady Redgrave wrote to Vanessa’s father, Sir Michael Redgrave, that Gavin Welby was “a real horror … a pretty rotten piece of work”.[15] Gavin Welby died in 1977 of alcohol-related causes.

    So now knowing his background – one can understand his anti Israel line – that is typical of people who were of Jewish descent!

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