Pub No. 85
Christians and Christianity in the Jewish State: Executive summary
Publication Year: 2012
The relationship between Judaism and Christianity is unique, with Jews and Christians having a mutual affinity not seen in other religions. Christianity emerged from within the Jewish world, and like Judaism sanctifies the Hebrew Bible, regarding it as the first part of the Holy Scriptures. Among other consequences, this shared foundation has resulted in a perception of Israel as the Holy Land and of Jerusalem as a holy city and thus a major pilgrimage destination. The establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 posed great challenges, both to the churches and the state itself.
The intricate and complicated relations that prevailed between the Christian world and Israel during its 62 first years are the principal focus of this book. This Summary contains 3 parts. The first regards the Israeli policy towards churches and Christian communities between the years 1948-1967. The second part relates to years 1967-2007. The last part examines the current relations between Israel and the Christian churches and communities.
The relationship between Judaism and Christianity is unique, with Jews and Christians having a mutual affinity not seen in other religions. Christianity emerged during the 1st century CE from within the Jewish world and– like Judaism, sanctifies the Hebrew bible, regarding it as the first part of the Holy Scriptures. Among other consequences, this shared foundation has resulted in a perception of the land of Israel as the Holy Land and of Jerusalem as a holy city and thus a major pilgrimage destination.
Current Relations between Israel and the Christian Churches and Communities: Problems and Challenges
Israel’s relations with the churches and the Christian world are among the most neglected issues in policy and in practice on the part of the state’s governing bodies. As noted, this area includes internal Israeli issues (such as relations of the state with the Arab Christian population in Israel, with non-Arab Christian populations, and with foreign workers); and matters connected to Israel’s foreign relations and its ties with international Christian bodies such as the Vatican, the World Council of Churches, and evangelical entities, as well as with states that are influenced by the churches, their organizations and Christian opinions. The variety of relationships that Israel has with the Christian world is also known to influence other important areas such as the struggle against anti- Semitism and against efforts to de-legitimize Israel.
Setting Policy Regarding the Christian Arab Community in Israel
On the basis of this analysis, we propose that cautious efforts be undertaken to provide assistance to the Christian Arab community in a number of ways, without creating tension with or estrangement from the Muslim majority. In fact, there are indications that the Israeli establishment is showing progress in this context in some fields.