Minorities in Israel: Christian Arabs


Christian israeli arabs comprise about 9% of the israeli arab population, and reside mostly in the north, Nazareth having the largest christian arab population. Christians are about one hundred forty thousand (42% of which are greek catholics, 32% greek orthodox, 16% roman catholics and 10% protestants). They are active in israeli politics and civil life, and have a judge on the Israeli Supreme Court.

Muslims, christians and druzes have been differentially treated. Christians may volunteer for service in the army, and some do. Differential treatment usually has favored christians and druzes over muslims; at least this has been the semi-official "policy". Some ethnographic and sociological studies of arab villages, however, indicate that other israeli policies have had the effect of weakening the christian and druze position and strengthening that of arab muslims.

In the past, christian dominance, for example, was based on the control of agrarian resources in villages. The dismantling of the agrarian bases of the arab economy and the proletarianization of arab labor led to arab dependence on the jewish economy. However, it did so at the expense of the wealth, and thus the political standing, of christians. Similarly, the building and support of village and town schools open to all created an educated (and underemployed) muslim cadre, whose intellectual energies have tended to flow into antiestablishment politics.

Christian arabs continue to receive more education than muslims or druze. While 27% of christian arabs had gone through twelve years of schooling, only 14% of muslims and druze completed that same number. The rate of graduation from high school for christian arabs was comparable to that of jews in Israel.

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