'Christians should not be classified as Arabs'

Sunday, July 14, 2013 |  Ryan Jones

Father Gabriel Nadaf, a Greek Orthodox priest from the area of Nazareth, continues to make headlines in the Israeli press for advocating a new alliance between local Jews and Christians in service to the State of Israel.

In an interview with Israeli website News1, Nadaf said that Christians are tired of living as dhimmis (second-class citizens) in the Muslim world, and are starting to understand that the Jewish state is their ticket out of that situation.

But Israel itself has been holding these Christians back, even if unwittingly.

According to Nadaf, Israel needs to stop classifying local Christians as "Arabs." As he explained to News1, the historical ethnic background of Christians in Israel is a mix of Jewish, Greek, Roman, Assyrian and other such peoples all of whom were here long before the Arab Muslims showed up.

It is true that in the early decades of Israel's rebirth a majority of local Christians threw their lot in with the Muslims, fearing the Jews didn't stand a chance, and that the Christians would be punished as collaborators after Israel was defeated.

But that is all changing, and more and more Christians are openly identifying themselves with Israel, or as allies of Israel.

Take for instance the former South Lebanese Army (SLA), a powerful Christian militia that fought alongside the Israeli army during its years in Lebanon. Nadaf said that Israel's abandonment of the SLA when it abruptly pulled out of Lebanon in 2000 was representative of its second major error when it comes to dealing with local Christians.

Israel has proved that Islam is not all powerful in this region, and can be defeated. And Israel has allies in this cause in the Christian communities across the Middle East. But Israel must inspire confidence in the Christians by standing unwaveringly at their side against the Muslim threat.

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