Christian In Israel

Arab Christians join raging debate over IDF service

Greek Orthodox priest condemned for encouraging Arab Christians to enlist in the Israeli army.

Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Metropolitan Theophilos
Photo by: Ronen Zvulun/Reuters
Israeli society is locked in a heated debate over sharing the burden of military service more equitably, given that some 40% of potential draftees manage to evade army duty. To date, the dispute has largely focused on the exemptions granted to ultra-Orthodox Jews studying full time in yeshivot, and the Knesset is currently considering a bill that would greatly reduce that privilege, though the haredi world has vowed to fight it every step of the way.

But over the past month, a debate has raged over a different sector of the public serving in the army: Arab Christians. Knesset members and state prosecutors have been drawn into this impassioned exchange, thanks to a Greek Orthodox priest from the Galilee who has encouraged Arab Christians to volunteer for the IDF.

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