In This Review

The Body and the Blood: The Holy Land's Christians at the Turn of a New Millennium
The Body and the Blood: The Holy Land's Christians at the Turn of a New Millennium
By Charles M. Sennott
PublicAffairs, 2001, 479 pp
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This is not a book that busy policymakers must read. It offers no findings relevant to conflict resolution in the Middle East. It is only an American reporter's touching account of a venerable community whose numbers are sharply declining: the Christian Arabs. Accounting for 13 percent of the population in early Mandate Palestine, Christian Arabs now make up only 2 percent of the population of Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. More than two times as many Christian Palestinians live in the diaspora than in the Holy Land. Equivalent statistics could be cited for Lebanon, Jordan, and Egypt, where Christian Copts once accounted for 10 percent of the population. Caught between majorities of Jews in Israel and Muslims elsewhere, facing religious definitions of identity, more and more Christian Arabs choose to leave. Focusing on the area where Christianity began (Bethlehem, Nazareth, and Jerusalem) but also reporting from Lebanon, Jordan, and Egypt, Sennott lets the story unfold in the words and experiences of the many Christians, Muslims, and Jews he met, both well-known and unknown.