Christian-Arab Israeli soldiers celebrate Xmas

Jerusalem celebrations highlight rise in Christian IDF recruits, with Father Naddaf hoping they can become viewed as patriotic Israelis.

Shoshana Miskin ,

Father Gabriel Naddaf at Monday's Christmas party
Father Gabriel Naddaf at Monday's Christmas party
Photo: Courtesy of Israeli Christians Recruitment Forum

With Israel’s greatly increasing number of Christian-Arab Israelis who join the Israeli military, the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (The Fellowship) aims to integrate this minority population into mainstream Israeli society.

Support from the Israeli Christians Recruitment Forum, led by Father Gabriel Naddaf of Nazareth, has allowed The Fellowship to greatly multiply the number of Christian Arabs enlisting in the IDF.

Father Naddaf hopes some of Israel’s 165,000 Arab Christian citizens, whom he prefers to call “Israeli Christians,” will follow and be perceived as patriotic Israelis rather than enemies of the state. His position has earned him stiff opposition from the official Greek Orthodox church and Arab MKs.

“Calling them ‘Arab-Christian’ puts them on the side of Palestinians and terrorists, when, in reality, they’ve lived in Israel for generations and just want to live in peace and security,” said Naddaf.

Last week, Father Naddaf and The Fellowship were recognized by Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon (Likud), which will allow the Forum to continue to provide financial assistance to Christian families and discharged soldiers in need.

“I believe Israel's Christian community should integrate more into mainstream Israeli society,” said Naddaf. “Why do the Druze serve? Why do the Bedouin serve? But not the Christians? It's because they're scared. This has to change. It's time to say in a loud and clear voice: enough.”

This past Monday, Father Naddaf gathered Israeli Christian soldiers for a Christmas party, delivering treats and thanking them for their service to Israel.

Father Naddaf also extended this thanks to the Christian donors around the world for supporting his activities through The Fellowship in a ceremony in Jerusalem.

“Your assistance is essential for the strength of Israeli society,” he said. “This society will achieve peace and defeat evil.”

Christian IDF soldiers at Monday's Christmas party Photo: Courtesy of Israeli Christians Recruitment Forum