Protesters gathered Sunday afternoon outside the embassy of the European Union in Tel Aviv, demanding that the EU pay at least as much attention to the suffering of Christians in Arab countries as to the purported “suffering” of the Palestinians.
About 150 members of the Christian community in Israel decided to raise their voices and criticize what they called the “hypocrisy” of the EU, which “has a double standard for Israel, criticizing every little thing that doesn't fit in with their leftist, liberal point of view, while ignoring the torture and decimation Christians routinely undergo in Syria, Egypt, and elsewhere in the Arab world,” protesters said. “It is a clear case of ethnic cleansing, and the Christian world has remained deafly silent.”
Father Gabriel Nadaf, a Greek Orthodox priest from Nazareth, was present at the protest, and called for an end to the attacks on Christians. “We thank the State of Israel for providing a warm home to Christians,” he said.
A spokesperson for the group, Sha'adi Mur'an Halul, compared the situation of Christians in the Muslim world with that of Jews in pre-World War II Europe. “We saw how the silence of the world brought about the Holocaust in which 6 million Jews were killed,” he said.
“Israel lets us worship freely, and to live a normal life. We decided to speak up and tell the European governments and the human rights groups in Israel and around the world – do something, do not repeat the mistakes of the past,” he said. “We get a lot of news about what is happening to Christians in the Middle East, and they are begging us to help them. They envy our being citizens of Israel, and wish that they, too, could live in the Jewish state,” Halul said.
Assisting the protesters was Alon Schwartzer from the Im Tirzu group. Schwartzer said that it was time for human rights groups to “begin working in the places that really concern them,” not in Israel, where human rights is a matter of course. “We are here to help the Christian community in any way we can,” he added.
Nadaf and Halul are also supporters of the IDF, and have encouraged young Christians to volunteer for the army. Israeli Arabs are welcome in the IDF, but they are not subject to the draft, in order not to place them in a position where they would be at odds with community or family members. Halul is a spokesman for the Forum of Christian IDF Soldiers, and Nadaf has met with many Israeli leaders, including Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres, expressing his support for IDF service among Christians, and urging leaders to make greater efforts to reach out to young Christian Arabs.