Justin Welby’s accusation against Israel continues to unravel

Since the publication of an op-ed in The Times just before Christmas co-authored by Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, accusing Jews of driving out Christians from the Holy Land, we’ve argued that Welby provided no evidence to back up that broad allegation, or his specific claim that there’s been frequent assaults on Christians by such radical Jews.

Welby’s op-ed failed to include any sources to back up his claims.

As Fleur Hasssan-Nahoum, Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem, wrote in her recent Jewish Chronicle op-ed, Welby’s “allegations are uncorroborated by the city and the police”, before asking: “If there was truly a trend of rising violence against Christians, wouldn’t we expect such incidents to be reported to local law enforcement before being aired to the foreign press?”

We decided to contact the office of the Archbishop of Canterbury asking them to provide the data that Welby was citing.  A week later they sent us a 66-page research report published by the International Community of the Holy Sepulchre (ICoHS) titled “Defeating Minority Exclusion and Unlocking Potential: Christianity in the Holy Land”.

First, before pivoting to the question at hand, we should note that the report included some concerns about Christians in the Holy Land that Welby didn’t mention in his op-ed, including this, on page 8:

We found that an increasing sense of grievance and despair in parts of the Palestinian Muslim community was increasing the risk of verbal and physical attacks against minority Palestinian Christian communities.

And, this on page 46:

An increase in radicalisation among some younger Muslim communities that manifested itself in intolerance of Christians, less radical
Muslims, and Jews.

Though carefully worded, it seems clear these passages acknowledge that some physical attacks against Christians have been perpetrated by Palestinian Muslims – a fact that was curiously absent from Welby’s op-ed.

Now, to the section in the report which include sources about attacks on Christian clergy by Jews.  There’s this on page 46:

Tense relations with religious ultra-Orthodox Jews (Haredim), who openly expressed hatred through ‘price tag’ attacks.

Attacks on Christian properties and churches in the Holy Land have risen in recent years with incidents of vandalism amounting to 24 over the past six years. This is a dangerous phenomenon that is affecting the Christian presence in the Holy Land and puts Christian clergy in physical danger. These attacks on Christian properties consist of writing anti- Christian slogans on the walls of churches, burning of churches and cemeteries and include physical attacks on Christian clergy.

The footnote goes to a US State Department report on International Religious Freedom, published in May 2021 and included this about Israel and the Palestinian territories:

Christian clergy and pilgrims continued to report instances of ultra-Orthodox Jews in Jerusalem harassing or spitting on them. In one incident in June [2020], a Catholic friar reported being assaulted in public by three men wearing kippot(yarmulkes) who spit at and verbally attacked him. When the attackers began physically assaulting the friar, bystanders intervened and forced the attackers to leave. According to the priest, police did not respond to telephone calls for assistance during the attack but recorded a complaint filed by the victim.

The report also includes a footnote that leads to a May 2021 article reporting that three Jewish suspects were arrested on suspicion of assaulting two clergymen in the Armenian Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City.

So, in summary, since 2020, according to the source provided to us by the office of the Archbishop of Canterbury, there have been two reported assaults by Jews on Christians over the last two years.  To put this in perspective, according to the CST, there were seventy-four antisemitic assaults on Jews in the first six months of 2021.* Also, CST reported that (among the antisemitic incidents where the ethnicity of the perpetrator was known) a plurality of the perpetrators were Arab or North African.

Why is that last fact relevant? Because, it’s impossible to imagine someone from CST – or any Jewish communal or religious leader in the UK – writing an op-ed hyperbolically charging that British Muslims are driving Jews from the UK.  So, why, then, when an equally scurrilous allegation is made about Jews ‘driving Christians from the Holy Land’, without credible evidence, it’s accepted by Times editors and others as a reasonable argument?

Finally, as we’ve demonsrated previously, the Christian population in Israel is increasing, and the community, by most measures, is in fact thriving.

At the end of the day, Welby’s Times op-ed was grossly dishonest, and represents nothing but a shameful anti-Israel smear.

(*CST actually reported 87 assaults on Jews during that period, but to maintain consistency while comparing data, we didn’t include incidents where the victim was spit on.)

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2 Comments

  1. says: Neil C

    Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, needs to source his input material more carefully and do some fact-checking before publishing such a op-ed smear of Israel . Why does he not mention that in 1975 Bethlehem had a Palestinian Christian population of over 60% which has now dwindled to 6%, it is not Jews that have driven them out it is Palestinian Muslims.

  2. says: cammo99

    Marginal Christianity embraces any religious thought that in turn embraces socialist Gospel ideology. It dispenses often with dogma that might preserve the moral fiber that is an inheritance from Judaism and like the German Positive church attempts to dispose of the origins of faith to build bridges based on socialist ideology that may span any number of faiths like Islam is more inclusive of once heretic sects like Mormonism to expand the numbers of Christians regardless of theology and faith. It is in the respect the Archbishop is acting not to defend the faith but the politics of the church. The archbishop might be able to say he is dancing with the devil to preserve Christian lives villainizing Jews to save the lives of the next armenian population waiting be massacred after witnessing the appalling treatment of non Muslims by ISIS, Pakistan etc. But he doesn’t take the high road instead he acts as their messenger. The message is “There is no god but God and Muhammad is his messenger.”

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