Israel’s Christian population continues to eschew the Arab identity thrust upon them so many centuries ago and to reclaim the more ancient identities of their forefathers, chief among them Aramean.
This is by now nothing new. We’ve written on this exciting phenomenon a number of times.
- Restoring Ancient Christianity in the Holy Land
- Christians and Jews are Israel’s Indigenous Population
- Israel’s Christian Soldiers Find Their Voice
- Maronite Aramaic Christians: True Friends of the State of Israel
The issue made waves again last week following the deadly terrorist shooting attack in Bnei Barak, near Tel Aviv. Among the five people killed was Amir Khoury, an Israeli Christian and one of the two police officers who put down the terrorist, at the cost of Khoury’s own life.
His heartbreaking funeral was also an unavoidable example of the coexistence that today defines much of Israel. And this is especially true between the country’s Jewish majority and its small Christian minority.
Social media commentator Emily Schrader posted an image from the funeral showing Khoury’s casket draped in an Israeli flag and adorned with a Christian cross made of flowers. It was a poignant reminder that far from being discriminated against, Christians in Israel today are seen by most of their Jewish countrymen as brothers.
A powerful and heartbreaking photo that is a painful testament to the reality in #Israel.
We are one society 🇮🇱 targeted by extremists with an obsessive hate that doesn’t discriminate between Israeli Arabs and Jews.
We must stand strong even in the face of unimaginable sorrow. pic.twitter.com/4LPJ67B1vW
— Emily Schrader – אמילי שריידר (@emilykschrader) March 31, 2022
But like most of the Israeli media, ourselves included, Schrader related to the image as an example of coexistence between Israeli Jews and Arabs.
That didn’t sit well with a lot of local Christians.
“I see that cross as representing a Christian martyr, not Arabs,” wrote Shadi Khalloul, head of the Israeli Christian Aramaic Association (ICAA). “I call on all in the Israeli media to stop misleading people,” he added.
Another Israeli responding to Khalloul’s post added:
“Christians are not Arabs. There are no Christian Arabs. Christians in Israel are originally from the region of Syria, Lebanon and Phoenicia. They used to speak Hebrew and Aramaic. Arabs are originally from the Arabian Peninsula.
“All the Muslims who invaded Israel speak Arabic. They arrived from the countries surrounding Israel for economic and other reasons, and brought with them the region’s dominant language, Arabic. This is what resulted in the mistaken of identifying Christians as Arabs.”