Arab Israeli Christian aims to debunk myths about Jewish state

“They see me and my ideas as a threat to what they are trying to promote."

Jonathan Elkhoury (photo credit: SEAN ZVI)
Jonathan Elkhoury
(photo credit: SEAN ZVI)

An Arab Israeli Christian has made it his mission to debunk myths about Israel’s Christian minority. 

“We want to educate college students about Israel’s minorities and to counter anti-Israel activity on campuses that use Israel’s minorities to attack Israel and say we do not have full rights,” said Jonathan Elkhoury, an international speaker, columnist and project manager for the NGO Reservists on Duty.

Elkhoury spoke recently with Robert Walker on Honest Reporting’s podcast, “The Honest Report.”

Listen to the full podcast:

Five years ago, Elkhoury formed a group of Israeli minorities – Muslims, Christians, Druze and Bedouin - who were interested in getting more involved in society, including serving in the Israel Defense Forces and other forms of national service. What he found was that while there were a number of Arab Israeli diplomats, there were few average Arab citizens speaking out about life in Israel. His efforts helped change that.

“Now we have so many that are just waiting to go and speak,” he told Walker.

When the group is on campuses they are often met with a combination or surprise and even animosity by anti-Israel activists, Elkhoury described. He said that many anti-Israel activists don’t recognize Israel’s basic right to exist and when minorities appear on their campuses defending the Jewish state, “it shakes their whole lives and beliefs… These people – we take the rug from under their feet.”

Jonathan Elkhoury, an Israeli-Christian resident of Haifa part of Reservists on Duty at the 7th Annual JPost Conference in NY (Credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)Jonathan Elkhoury, an Israeli-Christian resident of Haifa part of Reservists on Duty at the 7th Annual JPost Conference in NY (Credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

Sometimes, he said, members have been kicked and spat on because these activists do not want to accept their side of the story.

“They see me and my ideas as a threat to what they are trying to promote,” he said.

According to Elkhoury, Christians make up 2% of Israel’s population, around 160,000 people. The majority live in northern Israel, Jerusalem and Nazareth. 

“And if we want to talk about integration, Christian society is one of the most successful minorities. We have doctors, lawyers, judges. We are everywhere in Israel. There is no glass ceiling we cannot break.”

He added that one-third of Christian teens join military service or the national police force.

“It shows advancement,” Elkhoury concluded. “We are taking the lead … and being good citizens that want our country to succeed.”