Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met Monday with embattled Greek Orthodox
priest Father Gabriel Nadaf, under attack for encouraging Arab Christians to go
into the IDF, and said Israel will not tolerate threats against people
advocating greater integration into Israeli society.
“The Christian youth
must be allowed to go into the IDF,” Netanyahu said. “You are loyal citizens who
want to defend the country, and I salute and support you. We will not tolerate
threats on you and will work to firmly implement the law against those
persecuting you. We will not allow the country to be torn apart from
within. The State of Israel and the prime minister stand with
Nadaf, who is openly active on behalf of the integration of Arab
Christians into Israel’s mainstream and is the spiritual leader of a forum for
the enlistment of Christian youth in the IDF, has been excommunicated by the
Orthodox Church Council, subjected to death threats and the target of verbal
attacks from Arab MKs.
The Jerusalem Patriarchate is also coming under
pressure from various quarters to sack the Nazareth resident.
during the meeting that he would not be deterred.
“Our goal is to guard
the Holy Land and the State of Israel,” he said. “We have broken the barrier of
fear – the state deserves that we do our part in defending it. Those who oppose
the integration of the Christian community in the institutions of state do not
walk in the path of Christianity.”
Netanyahu said that a forum would be
established that would include representatives from the government and the
Christian community to promote the enlistment of Christian youth into the IDF
and national service, and their full integration into Israeli life.
the purposes of the forum will be to “protect those who support enlistment and
enlistees from violence and threats, and step up law enforcement against those
who disturb the peace and incite to violence.”
According to the Prime
Minister’s Office, there has been a significant increase in the number of
Christian enlistees in the IDF, from 35 a year ago to approximately 100 this
year, with another 500 young people from the community doing national
Nadaf was accompanied at the meeting by Lt. (res.) Shadi
Khaloul, head of the forum for the enlistment of Christian youth in the IDF, and
Naji Abid, the leader of the Orthodox council in Yafia.