The Presbyterian Church’s Enduring False Witness

CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America)
Date of source:
13 Oct 2015

CAMERA, apparently a pro-Israel organization, criticizes Presbyterian Church statements on Israel. "It is unclear if these texts affect public opinion in the U.S., but they do have a significant impact on debate at the denomination’s General Assemblies that are held every two years and at which Israeli policies are regularly scrutinized and condemned." CAMERA claims that the Presbyterian Church "falsely reports that Israel’s Christian population has, along with other countries in the region, “experienced a drastic decrease in numbers.” This is not true." and responds: "Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics reports that in 1949, there were 34,000 Christians living in Israel. In 2008, when the booklet was published, there were 152,000 Christians. That is an increase of 347 percent. In reference to the Arab Christian population, Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics reports that in 1999, there were 107,000 Arab Christians living in Israel; in 2008, there were 122,000. Again, another increase."


CAMERA writes on Egypt "The lack of safety endured by Christians in the Middle East was downplayed in the document, which reports that Christian-Muslim relations in Egypt were “good” despite well-documented hostility toward Coptic Christians in that country. Things got much worse in the years after “Cradle to Our Faith” was published, but even before the booklet was released in 2008, Coptic Christians were regular targets of physical attacks and were periodically forced to pay the jizya tax to extremists Muslims in Egypt. If these things had taken place in Israel, they would have been highlighted and condemned, but because they happened in Egypt, they were downplayed by the booklet’s authors."


CAMERA discusses various other issues related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and concludes that this indicates "that something is seriously wrong with the Presbyterian Church (USA)," and is "unable to respond to ongoing threats to human rights in other places such as Egypt, Nigeria, Syria and Pakistan."


Cornelis Hulsman:  Just look at the Christian Statistics Israel/Palestine based on different publications of French Researcher Philippe Fargues:

1894  - 42,871 Christians, 13,3% of the total population in an area that is today comprised by Israel, Westbank and Gaza.

1914 – 69,456 Christians, 11,26%

1921 – 71,464 Christians, 9,5%

1931 – 88,107 Christians, 8,6%

1946 – 145,063 Christians, 7,59%

1948 - Foundation of the State of Israel

1949 – 93,000 Christians, 5,26 %    - according to CAMERA 34,000 of them in Israel. The other 59,000 were mainly living in the Westbank

1961 – 96,355 Christians, 3,23 %

1972 – 76,502 Christians, 2,04%

1983 – 99,525 Christians, 2,1 %

2008 – no figure given by Philippe Fargues – according to CAMERA 152,000 Christians in Israel but from the article of CAMERA this appears to be referring to both native Arab Christians and non-Arab Christians, that is non-Israeli Christians with probably residence permits.  In 2008 there were 122,000 Arab Christians in Israel.

The figures show a substantial decline in the percentage of Christians. The decline appears to be highest in the Israeli occupied Palestinian areas.


CAMERA uses Egypt to claim that the situation for Christians is not so bad in Egypt but the so-called "well-documented hostility" towards Coptic Christians in Egypt is not so well documented as many people in the West claim. Just see the many reports that Arab-West Report has written on this very subject. Coptic Christians were not "regular targets of physical attacks" and "jizya" as CAMERA claims. Attacks have happened but were often not well documented and they were certainly not regular but limited to regions of Egypt where the rule of law was weak. CAMERA thus appears to be strongly defensive of Israel and is not non-partisan.

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