Last updated on: 5/16/2008 1:51:00 PM PST

Do the Christian and Muslim Communities of Israel and Palestine Have Good Relations?

General Reference (not clearly pro or con)
Daphne Tsimhoni, PhD, Research Fellow at the Harry S. Truman Institute at Hebrew University, in a 2001 Middle East Forum essay titled "Israel and the Territories – Disappearance," wrote:

"Despite the Christian contribution to the Palestinian Arab national movement, their relations with it have been ambiguous. Except for a short time during the movement's formative stage, the influences of Islam on the movement and its affiliation with it have been conspicuous. This affiliation was already obvious in 1922 with the election of the Jerusalemite mufti Hajj Amin al-Husayni as the chairman of the Supreme Muslim Council in Palestine; at the same time, he became the Palestinian Arab national leader and chairman of the Palestinian Arab congresses and delegations. While identifying themselves wholeheartedly with the Palestinian struggle against the Zionist movement in Palestine, the Christians were hesitant about the struggle against the British mandate. They were apprehensive of the growing influence of Islam over the Palestinian Arab national movement and of Muslim suspicions that Christians were collaborating with the West. Hence, the Christians found themselves in a marginal position within the movement."

2001 - Daphne Tsimhoni, PhD 

PRO (yes)

Rev. Naim Ateek, PhD, Director of Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center, in an article "Christians in the Holy Land Today," posted to the Friends of Al-Aqsa website (accessed Nov. 9, 2007), wrote:

"Despite their minority status in Palestinian society, Christian Palestinians have historically maintained excellent relations with their Muslim neighbors. Christians fully identify with their Palestinian identities, and their psychological trauma at the loss of their homeland was as deep as that of all other Palestinians. Christians and Muslims have struggled together in the Palestinian nationalist movement, and these shared experiences have fomented cooperation, solidarity and unity among the two faith groups."

Nov. 9, 2007 - Naim Ateek, PhD 

Hanna Issa, Director-general of the Palestinian Justice Ministry, as quoted in a Nov. 2003 Aljazeera article titled "Sharing a vision: Palestinian Christians":

"Palestinian Christians and Muslims have always acted as 'one community rather than two sects.'

'We are one people; it is a timeless fraternity that proved itself throughout history.'

'If you go to a Palestinian village where Muslims and Christians live and ask people in the street what religion they adhere to, they will look strangely at you.'"

Nov. 2003 - Hanna Issa 

Bernard Sabella, PhD, Associate Professor of Sociology at Bethlehem University, in a 1996 Al-Bushra essay titled "Palestinian Christians: Challenges and Hopes," wrote:

"There is need to reaffirm the traditionally excellent relations between Christians and their Moslem neighbours. This tradition of good Christian-Moslem relations has evolved through centuries of coexistence and exchange in the cities of Jerusalem, Nazareth, Bethlehem, Ramallah and in the rural areas such as Zababdeh, BirZeit and other towns and villages where Moslems and Christians live side by side and interact in their pursuit of daily pre-occupations and concerns."

1996 - Bernard Sabella, PhD 

CON (no)

Habib C. Malik, PhD, Founding Member of the Foundation for Human and Humanitarian Rights, in a 1998 First Things commentary titled "Christians in the Land Called Holy," wrote:

"Intellectuals and clergymen...never tire of insisting that harmony has always prevailed between Muslims and Christians in Palestine...This sentiment is motivated primarily by a desire for a unified position vis-a-vis Israel. But it also stems from a deeper dhimmi [second-class status] psychological state: the urge to find -- or to imagine and fabricate if need be -- a common cause with the ruling majority in order to dilute the existing religious differences and perhaps ease the weight of political Islam's inevitable discrimination."

1998 - Habib C. Malik, PhD 

David Raab, MA, Strategy Consultant at Raab & Co., who writes on the Middle East, in a Jan. 2003 Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs essay titled "The Beleaguered Christians of The Palestinian-Controlled Areas," wrote:

"Palestinian Christians are perceived by many Muslims - as were Lebanon's Christians - as a potential fifth column for Israel. In fact, at the start of the recent violence in 2000, Muslim Palestinians attacked Christians in Gaza, as confirmed by Fr. Raed Abusahlia, chancellor of the Latin Patriarchate in Jerusalem."

Jan. 2003 - David Raab, MA 

Artemio Vitores, OFM, Vicar of the Custody, in a 2004 Franciscan Foundation for the Holy Land essay titled "The Holy Land is Left without Christians," wrote:

"Christians feel trapped between the two major groups: Judaism and Islam, who identify religion strongly with the state. They feel pressure to accept a way of life in society that is not their own. This creates an obvious tension between Muslims and Christians."

2004 - Artemio Vitores, OFM