He is a young priest, a fact even his beard cannot hide. Still, the keen look in
his eye and his profound faith make his age irrelevant.
He bears a heavy
burden, not unlike Christ in the painting on the wall of his home in Nazareth,
who carried the cross on his back. But Father Gabriel Nadaf’s burden is of a
different sort: to persuade the Christian population in Israel to enlist in the
His Muslim neighbors despise him, and even some of his
coreligionists disassociate themselves from his loyalty to Israel, out of fear.
Father Nadaf’s children are attacked, he himself is the target of death threats,
and his car has repeatedly been vandalized. And why? Because a man of
God, a citizen of Israel, is calling on the members of his community to display
loyalty to their country and integrate into its society.
Arabs in Israel are a minority within a minority. They live alongside the Muslim
Arabs, and are gradually being pushed out. In Nazareth, a predominantly
Christian city for generations, they are already in the
Nevertheless, they are better off in Israel than elsewhere in
the region. The Christian community in Bethlehem, the birthplace of their
savior, has been severely depleted and suffers relentless persecution, and their
situation in Gaza, Egypt and Syria is nothing short of catastrophic.
the whole, the Christians in this part of the world are educated and financially
secure. But since they have always been targeted by the Muslims, they have had
to seek out ways to protect themselves.
These solutions have not proven
successful. Some have turned to communism, which rejects all religions save for
the religion of the exploited proletariat fighting its oppressors.
you take religion out of the equation, a Christian is equal to his Muslim
neighbor. This explains why many of the leading communists in Israel and
surrounding countries are Christian. Another solution that has been tried is to
adopt a radical stance. Hardliners like George Habash and Azmi Bishara, for
example, are uncompromising in their rejection of Israel in an effort
demonstrate their loyalty and gain the approval of a hostile environment that
victimizes people of their faith.
Anyone with eyes in their head, such as
Father Nadaf, can see that there is no place for Christians in the Arab world.
The chairman of the Palestinian Authority may have his picture taken at midnight
mass in Bethlehem for all the world to see, but there is no greater
The Christians do not really want him there, and he himself
does nothing to end the harassment of the Christians who remain in the city,
living on borrowed time.
Father Nadaf is a man of honor, unlike the Arab
members of Knesset who curry favor with people like Gaddafi and Assad and wrap
themselves in Palestinian flags while enjoying a Zionist salary, Zionist social
security, Zionist health care and more.
In contrast, Father Nadaf
encourages his community not only to take from the country, but to give to it as
Jewish soldiers serve in the armies of Christian countries, and
there is no reason why Christian soldiers should not serve in the army of a
Jewish country. They are part and parcel of the complex mosaic that is Israel, a
small, select group that it is our duty to promote. Father Nadaf chose Israel,
and we should embrace him, along with his community.
Translated from the
Hebrew by Sara Kitai, firstname.lastname@example.org