Pro-Palestinian Activist Claims Arabs Were First Christians

Tricia Miller, Ph.D.

Dear Christian Leaders,

In the midst of everything else happening in our world in this time in which we live, CAMERA's Partnership of Christians and Jews has taken the fight against anti-Israel Palestinian propaganda to a new level.

New Bible Translation Underscores Jewish Roots of Christianity

Last week, we were privileged to host a webinar featuring Dr. Brad H. Young, the translator and publisher of the soon-to-be-released Hebrew Heritage Bible. Dr. Young's work on this new translation reflects the depth and breadth of his forty plus years of scholarship in Judaism, early Christianity, biblical research and translation.

The Hebrew Heritage Bible is groundbreaking in the way it underscores the Jewish roots of Christianity, reconstructs the Hebrew sources of the biblical text, and uncovers the Jewish mindset and Hebrew thought behind what is written. In so doing, it clarifies certain texts concerning Israel and the Jewish people that, as a result of faulty interpretation, have inspired antisemitism and delegitimization of the Jewish people and the State of Israel. 

By affirming the Hebrew heritage of the Christian faith and allowing the modern reader to hear what the first century listeners heard, the erroneous doctrine of replacement theology is refuted, and the false notion of a Palestinian Jesus is exposed.

If you were not able to join us last week for our fascinating and informative discussion with Dr. Young, or if you would like to watch it again and share it with others, a recording is now available here.

The Hebrew Heritage Bible is scheduled to be released in December!

If you would like to preorder your own copy, you may order it here.

Palestinian Propaganda Purports Arabs were the First Christians

This week, the Partnership strongly refuted the fallacious assertion by a pro-Palestinian activist that Arabs were the first Christians. In a book titled, Occupied With Non-Violence: A Palestinian Woman Speaks, the author employs blatant falsehoods to write Jews out of the history of the early church and supplant them with her Arab ancestors in order to gain sympathy for the Palestinian cause and encourage opposition towards a sovereign Jewish state in the Holy Land.

For an piercing analysis of the errors promoted in this book, you need to read Dexter Van Zile's latest article!


Dexter Van Zile

In her 2008 book Occupied With Non-Violence: A Palestinian Woman Speaks, pro-Palestinian activist Jean Zaru speaks of the difficulty that she faces when introducing herself to Christians from the West. They often mistakenly assume that she is either a Muslim or a Jew because she lives in Jerusalem. When she tells these Christians that she is in fact a Christian, they often ask when she converted to her newfound faith.

Her answer, she writes, is that “I am a Christian, because my ancestors were disciples of Christ. Arabs were the first Christians. They formed the earliest Christian community in Jerusalem.”

Zaru’s response is riddled with blatant falsehoods.


The first Christians were not Arabs, but were Jews who had followed Jesus during his ministry and kept his memory alive after his crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension. Moreover, Arabs did not form, as Zaru writes, “the earliest Christian community in Jerusalem.”

That designation, belongs — again — to Jews. Arabs who embraced Christianity are in fact mentioned in the book of Acts, but the fact remains that Jesus’s earliest followers and the first Christian community in Jerusalem were Jews.

This is patently evident in the Book of Acts. The first five chapters describe the early episodes of the church in Jerusalem, with one of the biggest events, Jesus’s ascension, taking place on a Jewish holiday — Pentecost.

And Acts 15 recounts Peter’s leadership at a council in Jerusalem which determined that non-Jews did not need to be circumcised as Jews did to become members of the church. This was a debate between people who were born and raised as Jews, not Arabs. The Jewish roots of the Christian faith are unmistakable and undeniable.

Zaru’s shameless attempt to write Jews out of the history of the early church and supplant them with her Arab ancestors got past the editors at Fortress Press without challenge, probably through a combination of ignorance and ideological sympathy with the Palestinian cause and animus toward the presence of sovereign Jews in the Holy Land.

So what actually happened?