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Christians in the Middle East

December 3, 2013 - Andrea Johnson
Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics released some stats Monday on the most popular names for kids born last year in Israel.

While most children born there last year were Jewish or Arab, there are apparently still a fair number of Christian Arabs. With the ongoing conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians, it's sometimes hard to remember that among the Palestinians are Arab Christians. Officially, about 2.1 percent of Israelis are Christian, while 16.9 percent are Muslim and 75 percent are Jewish. It might be safer to be Christian in Israel than in countries like Egypt, but I don't imagine it's easy these days to be a Christian anywhere in the Middle East. Every now and then I read about an attack on a church somewhere in the Middle East or the declining population of Christians there and I wonder how many Christians will still be living in Bethlehem in another 20 years.

Some Christian Arabs from Lebanon, Syria and Palestine settled in North Dakota in the late 1800s and early 1900s and some of their descendants still live in this state today. With Advent season beginning, I think it's probably appropriate to spare a thought for their relatives in Israel. Accordingly, the most popular names for little Christian Arab boys in Israel in 2012 were George, Elias, Majd, Daniel, Joseph, Hana, Julian, Charbel, Jude and Emir. The most popular names for little Christian Arab girls in Israel in 2012 were Maria, Celine, Aline, Maya, Nur, Lian, Mary, Natalie, Tala and Miral.


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