Israel’s Knesset on Monday signed into law a bill that legally distinguishes between local Christians and the bulk of the Arabic-speaking population, which is primarily Muslim.
The stated goal of the law is to boost Christian employment rights by recognizing them as an independent minority, and thereby granting them separate representation on local councils and employment committees.
Israeli Arab (mostly Muslim) members of Knesset blasted the new law, insisting it would undermine Arab identity in the Holy Land.
But beyond the increased employment rights, that is precisely the point for many Arabic-speaking Christians in Israel.
“This is a historic event for us,” Shadi Haloul, spokesman for the Christian IDF Forum and chairman of the Aramaic Christian Association in Israel, told Israel Today.
“We as Christian with Aramaic roots deserve the right of self identity and national identity with our own representatives in all Israeli institutions,” he added.
Haloul and many others like him have long been pointing out the dire situation in which most Christians across the Middle East now find themselves, concluding, “Thank God we live in Israel. Christians here are protected, and now they are recognized without being lumped together with any Arab party.”
But this new law isn’t the end of the effort for Haloul.
“We are part of Israeli society, and will defend it and continue our path for coexistence with the Jews in this blessed country,” he vowed. “All of us at the Christian IDF Forum, including our spiritual leader Father Gabriel Nadaf (pictured), are part of this success, and we look forward to more laws fulfilling our Christian needs in Israel.”