But the 196,500 Palestinian and Israeli Arab Christians, who dropped from 13 percent of the population in 1894 to less than 2 percent today, occupy a uniquely oxygen-starved space between traumatized Israeli Jews and traumatized Palestinian Muslims, whose rising militancy is tied to regional Islamist movements that sometimes target Arab Christians. In the past decade, "the situation for Arab Christians has gone rapidly downhill," says Razek Siriani, a frank and lively man in his 40s who works for the Middle East Council of Churches in Aleppo, Syria. "We're completely outnumbered and surrounded by angry voices," he says.
Christianity is a religion born of Judaism. Both Jesus and Paul the Apostle considered themselves Jews. Why then should Israel not open its doors to the Christians of not just the Palestinian territories, but all of the Middle East? Over the generations the present "Arab Christians" will gradually transform into Hebrew Christians - which is exactly what the early Christians were. No doubt many of today's Arab Christians are partially descended from some of those original converts.
I am not proposing that Israel stop defining itself as a "Jewish state," but that it stop defining itself as a religiously Jewish state (which was never what its founders intended it to be). By embracing Arab Christians as long-lost brothers, as Hebrews who practice Christianity, Israel would only be returning to the situation of the first century A.D, when Judeans ranged from Pharisees to Sadducees, Hellenizers to Christ-believers. Yeshua ben Yosef deserves a place at the Sabbath table. Let the right of return extend to the Semites of the cross.