web analytics
July 3, 2015 / 16 Tammuz, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Christian Arabs’

It’s Hard to be a Christian Arab in Israel

Sunday, March 29th, 2015

It’s hard to be a Christian Arab in Israel, but not because of prejudice

My name is Gabriel Naddaf, and I have the privilege of being a Greek Orthodox priest from Nazareth in the Galilee. My people have mistakenly been called “Christian Arabs”, but the reality is that we are Arameans, descendents of people who lived here in Israel since the time of the Bible.

Recently Israel’s Interior Ministry has recognized us as the “Aramean nation”, following a lengthy public campaign. Partners in this effort were a number of Israeli Zionist organizations.

In the past three years I have become a controversial figure in Israel for the simple reason that I embrace Zionism, Jewish sovereignty in Israel, and the tolerance, respect and opportunity that has grown out of that sovereignty for all. I believe that our youth – Christian youth –should fully integrate into Israeli society. Part and parcel of that integration includes serving in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), Israel’s Army, or undertaking some other form of national service which Israel routinely provides for teenagers.

In 2012, a few Christian IDF officers and I founded the I.C.R.F–the Israeli Christians Recruitment Forum. My efforts have had mixed results. On the positive side, hundreds of Arab or Aramean Christian youth have heeded my call and have served their country with distinction. They have been embraced by their fellow soldiers, who regard them as comrades in arms, and not as strangers in their midst.

On the downside, the blowback, as it were, from my efforts among rejectionist elements in the Christian and the Muslim Arab community has been intense. Christian soldiers have been harassed by their neighbors, and in many cases, by their own families. These soldiers are forced to change out of their IDF uniforms before returning into their home towns, for fear that they may be harassed on their way home.

Another example came in 2012, when a conference was held in Nazareth by supporters of Christian recruitment to the IDF. A local leader, attorney Abir Kopty from the Mossawa Center, attacked the participants and accused them of Palestinian persecution. Attorney Kopty also suggested that integrating Christians into the army was an attempt to divide Arab society in their national struggle against Israel.

Following the conference, a campaign of harassment began against the conference’s organizers. Students who participated were also threatened, isolated, and suffered humiliation via social networks and in the Arab media. An Israeli organization who supports us, Im Tirtzu subsequently published a report detailing statements made against Christians who encouraged Christian enlistment in the IDF.

For me personally, my conviction and actions have led to numerous death threats against me, my excommunication by the Orthodox Church Council and the prevention of my entrance to the Church of Annunciation.

None of this has anything to do with the Israeli government or the Jewish community. The assertion of Israel as a so-called Apartheid state is complete nonsense. My successes and challenges speak loudly as to where the real problems lie for my fellow Christians.

It pains me to say this, but it must be said. The incitement against me, my campaign, and all those Christians who have sought to integrate into Israeli society has been led by Arab leaders from Israel and abroad and even by some Arab members of the Israeli parliament, the Knesset.

MK Hanin Zoabi wrote to me on official Knesset letterhead and accused me of “helping the enemy of the Palestinian people,” “collaboration with occupying forces” and pressured me “to fight against the loyalists of the regime.” Of course, all this creates an atmosphere of incitement against me and anyone who is interested in integrating the Christian minority into the national service frameworks in Israel.

New Christian Israeli-Arab Party Fed Up with Anti-Zionist Arabs

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013

An Arab-Israeli ship captain announced he is founding a Christian-Arab political party that will recognize Israel as a Jewish state and will promote civilian national service.

Bashara Shlayan’s party will be called Bnei Brit HaHadasha, a Hebrew term that can be translated as “new allies” and also “children of the New Testament.” The party is sponsored by Christians from northern Israel and he plans on running a party list in the next Knesset elections, which can take place anywhere up to four years from today.

Approximately 10 percent of Israel’s Arab citizens are Christian, which comes out to approximately 2 percent of Israel’s population.

Fed up with Israeli’s Muslim Arab Knesset Members, most of whom frequently preach hate and incitement against Israel, Shlayan said, “You need to be like any citizen. If you were in America, you wouldn’t be an American? At least in Israel, those who stayed here have been given the right to be a citizen and to integrate. But Israel’s first demand, which I support — and which needs to be understood — is that Israel is the home of the Jewish people.”

“We saw that we have to establish a political party, so we advertised in local Arab newspapers and the initiative took off [attracting] Christians who recognize that the Land of Israel belongs to the Jews,” Shlayan said. He explained that the Muslim Arab parties in Israel have an agenda that does not benefit Christians.

He told the Israel HaYom newspaper that he was promoted to form his party after he ran into difficulties in helping his son and nephew enlisting in the IDF. His nephew now is in a combat unit.

Shlayan and supporters have established a pro-enlistment forum that he said has boosted the number of Christian Arab youth who have joined the army, to the extent that the IDF has appointed a coordinator for the Christian Arab sector.

“We… invited the priests of the church to a conference we held in Nazareth Illit. One of them is the patriarch of the Church, Father Gabriel Nadaf, who has drawn the ire of Arab Knesset members after encouraging Christian Arab youth to join the Israeli army. The priest supported us,” Shlayan added.

Nadaf was excommunicated by the Orthodox Church Council after he urged Christian youth to serve in the IDF or in civilian national service.

“The current Israeli Arab leaders think being against Israel is Arab nationalism, and if you object to this way of thinking, you are a traitor. This is what needs to be changed. It is utter stupidity. Therefore, we demand that we Christians be recognized as loyal citizens of the state of Israel.”

Shlayan has lamented harassment from Muslim Arabs in Nazareth who he charged with trying to push Christian Arabs out of the city.

Schrauger on the Situation for Christians in Bethlehem

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

(((CLICK BELOW TO HEAR AUDIO)))

Bethlehem is a central city for Christians and to discuss the current situation in the city, Yishai is joined by friend and activist Brian Schrauger.  Together, they discuss discrimination faced by Christians, especially Christian Arabs, by the Palestinian Authority and how day-to-day life can become difficult within Bethlehem due to their beliefs.  The situation is certainly eye opening and be sure to listen here to get the inside scoop!

Yishai Fleisher on Twitter: @YishaiFleisher
Yishai on Facebook

New Statistics on Christians in Israel

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

A new report released by the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics sheds light on Christians living in Israel.

In 2011, 154,500 Christians lived in Israel, 2% of the State’s population.  Of those, 80.4% (124,218) are Christian Arabs.  The remainder are primarily immigrants who came from the former Soviet Union with Jewish members of their families under the Law of Return, as well as Ethiopians, Phillipinos, and Romanians.

The largest Christian Arab town is Nazareth (22,200), followed by Haifa (13,800) and Jerusalem (11,600).  The largest population of non-Arab Christians resides in Tel Aviv and its environs, followed by the Haifa area, the south, and then the Jerusalem region.

The average age of Christian bridegrooms at the time of their first marriage was 29.1 In 2009, approximately 1.5 years older than the Jewish grooms, 2 years older than Druze grooms and 3.5 years older than Muslim grooms.  The average age of Christian brides was 24.5, about a year younger than Jewish brides, 3 years older than Druze brides, and 4 years older than Muslim brides.

The average number of minor children in Christian families is 2.2, with 2.3 in Jewish families and 3.1 in Muslim households. The Christian population growth rate is 1.3%.

According to the statistics, Christian Arabs had the highest rate of success on matriculation exams in the country in 2010, with 63% of Christian 12th graders earning certificates, compared with 58% of Jewish students, 55% of Druze students, and 46% of Muslim students.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/new-statistics-on-christians-in-israel/2012/01/04/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: