Hate crimes are driving the drastic decline of indigenous Christians

Based on tolerance and community, Christianity has long held a central role in the Holy Land, with today’s Christians keen to see a pluralistic, sustainable society for all.

However the numbers of Christians in Jerusalem in particular have dwindled to a level bordering on extinction – a real possibility within a generation.

“At this rate of decline within a generation there will be no Christian communities left in the Holy land”

A small but vehemently committed group of radicals – ideologically at the intersection between ultranationalist racism and religious zealotism- are forcing families from their homes, desecrating religious sites and disrupting businesses. Today it is estimated that Christians are less than 1% of Jerusalem’s population – a decline from 11% in the middle of the last century.

Radicalised individuals are using a number of tactics to drive Christians from the Holy Land – ranging from blatant and belligerent to underhand intimidation and manipulation in the shadows.

Manoeuvres to seize property

Property ownership gives a community a foothold in an area – a place for families and businesses to take root and thrive. Through their relentless underhanded dealings that lead to lengthy legal challenges to property rights, radicalised factions are seeking to dislodge Christian communities. The most high profile of these cases is the disputed sale of properties at the Jaffa Gate, the entrance to the Christian Quarter.

Intimidation, violence and hate crimes

Christians in Jerusalem suffer intermittent violence and intimidation. Worshippers attempting to reach the Church of the Holy Sepulchre may sometimes be subject to verbal and physical abuse from radicalised individuals. Elsewhere in the city, some Churches are subjected to appalling acts of Blasphemy and abuse, such as individuals spitting on the Cross or verbal attacks around the holy site.

Arson and desecration of religious sites

Recent years have seen the desecration and vandalism of an unprecedented number of churches and holy sites. Along with growing numbers of reports from priests and local worshippers who have been assaulted and attacked. In 2020 the Church of All Nations at the Garden of Gethsemane was badly damaged in an arson attack. The problem is compounded because there is also a lack of apparent deterrent for these incidents. To date there has been no reports of any prosecutions that match the magnitude of the violations.

Local governance and its effects

Aspects of local government discriminate against the Christian community. In Jerusalem there is no Christian representation on the municipal council. A recent decision around taxation – council tax in particular – tended to work against Churches, and had threatened to bankrupt them.


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