Israeli Christians would never be accepted as Palestinians, MK David Rotem (Likud Beytenu) said on Wednesday at a dinner in Jerusalem honoring an Israeli Christian leader.
“We cannot accept that some Christians are called Palestinians when you [Israeli Christians] are not,” Rotem said. Christian Arabs cannot be Palestinians, he asserted, because “to Palestinians you are a dog, just as we [Jews] are.”
The dinner was co-hosted by the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus and the World Jewish Congress.
Citing the Christian exodus from Bethlehem in the years since the city’s transfer to Palestinian Authority control, Rotem said Christians should not kid themselves that “in a Palestinian state you will have a good time.” He added that the State of Israel was letting them down by not drafting them into the IDF and thus accepting them “as partners in everything.”
“Your brothers are not sitting in Jordan or Lebanon. Your brothers are more here than anywhere else,” he continued. “Christians have to be a part of the State of Israel. They are citizens and so they have to be partners in everything that happens in the state. We have to encourage and adore you.”
At the dinner, the caucus and the WJC recognized Greek Orthodox Fr. Gabriel Naddaf for his contributions to the state.
Naddaf has been a steadfast advocate of IDF and civilian service for Israeli Arabs. His son was recently hospitalized for injuries sustained after being beaten for his father’s views.
“We are Israeli Christians living as a minority among a minority of Arabs,” Naddaf said at the gathering. “We have good relations with the Jewish community. This is a cause of great pride for me.”
The country’s Christian community, he continued, lacked wise leadership that could bring it into Jewish Israeli society.
“I am here to open the eyes of the community,” he declared. “It is up to us to say ‘enough.’ The Christian community wants to integrate into Israeli society and opposes the stances of its leadership, which is not interested in doing so.”
The cleric added that he saw the IDF as the “first step in being integrated into the state.”