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Christian Citizens of Israel

January 21, 2015

by: Janet Aslin, Assistant Editor

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Father Gabriel Naddaf
Father Gabriel Nadaf, an Arab–Israeli priest from Nazareth, is a strong and vocal advocate for Israel and the freedom of religion that is guaranteed within its borders. Recently, he addressed the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, stating emphatically that, “Israel is the only place in the Middle East where Christians are safe.”

He also believes that Israeli–Christians should voluntarily join the Israel Defense Forces, giving back to the country that has provided a safe haven in which to practice their faith. In fact, the day after PM Netanyahu’s youngest son went into the army, Nadaf’s own son enlisted.

Another cause for which Father Nadaf has advocated is that of the Aramean Christians. For many years, Christian citizens of Israel were recognized solely as Christian-Arabs. However, there are about 200 families who consider themselves Aramean, not Arab, and they have been lobbying for official recognition. Last fall, Israel’s interior minister, Gideon Sa’ar, signed an order recognizing Aramean as a separate national identity. The decision acknowledged that the group has a distinct heritage, religion, culture and language (Aramaic).

Yaakov Khalloul, a two-year-old child from Galilee, became the first person to be registered as an Aramean. His parents were overjoyed to finally be able to register their children according to their true heritage. Christian citizens of Israel can give thanks for the rights and protection they have received in the Middle East’s only true democracy.

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