'Israel the Only Place in Middle East Where Christians are Safe'

Greek Orthodox priest Father Gabriel Nadaf defends Israel before the UNHRC, calls on it to end anti-Israel 'witch hunt.'
By Ari Yashar
First Publish: 9/23/2014, 6:29 PM

Father Gabriel Nadaf at the UN
Father Gabriel Nadaf at the UN
The Face of Israel

Greek Orthodox priest Father Gabriel Nadaf, a leader of the Aramaean Christian minority in Israel, spoke before the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on Tuesday in a strong show of support for the Jewish state.

Despite speaking before a body that has consistently condemned Israel - recently it appointed a biased committee to investigate claims of "war crimes" against Israel in Gaza, and praised the human rights "achievements" of Hamas and Islamic State (ISIS) supporter Qatar - Nadaf spoke firmly, calling for the world to stand by Israel against terror.

"Across the Middle East, in the last ten years, 100,000 Christians have been murdered each year. That means that every five minutes a Christian is killed because of his faith," reported Nadaf. "Those who can escape persecution at the hands of Muslim extremists have fled. ...Those who remain, exist as second if not third class citizens to their Muslim rulers."

Nadaf continued "in the Middle East today, there is one country where Christianity is not only not persecuted, but affectionately granted freedom of expression, freedom of worship and security. ...It is Israel, the Jewish State. Israel is the only place where Christians in the Middle East are safe."

Speaking immediately after a panel discussion on the "Human Rights Situation in Palestine and Other Occupied Arab Territories," Nadaf said: "it is time the world woke up to the fact that those who want to destroy the Jewish State are signing the death warrant on the last free Christians in the Holy Land."

"Leaders of people, seekers of peace, end your witch hunt of the only free country in the region," said Nadaf, throwing the gauntlet at the feet of the UNHRC.

Father Nadaf, a native of Nazareth who heads the Greek Orthodox Church in Yafia near his hometown, has advocated a strong connection to Israel and IDF service for Christian citizens - despite stiff opposition from the official Greek Orthodox church and Arab MKs.

That condemnation has gone as far as the Greek Orthodox patriarchate in Israel banning him from entering Nazareth's Basilica of the Annunciation, and repeatedly threatening to dismiss him from his Yafia post.

Arab MKs have also condemned him, calling him “an agent of Zionism who seeks to divide Arabs.” Nadaf has revealed he has also been threatened with violence, and even death - but he insists that he represents a sizable portion of the Christian Israeli community.

"We feel secure in the state of Israel," Nadaf has said, "and we see ourselves as citizens of the state with all the attendant rights as well as obligations."

Father Nadaf's trip to Geneva was arranged by The Face of Israel, a private organization promoting Israel internationally.