The Arabic-speaking (though ethnically Aramean) Christian community in Israel celebrated on Monday the promotion to the rank of Major of one of its own in the Israel Defense Forces.
More and more local Christians have been volunteering for the IDF in recent years as groups like the Israel Christian Community (ICCI) encourage military service as the best way to integrate into the Jewish state.
In a Facebook post marking the promotion of Maj. Eddie Jamalia, the ICCI told “everyone who tried (and is trying) to prevent our integration into Israeli society, in the IDF and the security forces (in particular), we have ‘bad’ news for you… We are already there, and there is no turning back!”
In recent years, local Christians have reclaimed their Aramean heritage, and eschewed the Arab identity imposed upon them during the Muslim conquest. Some years back, the State of Israel responded by officially recognizing the Aramean ethnicity and allowing local Christians to have that imprinted on their national ID cards.
Shadi Khalloul, head of the Israeli Christian Aramaic Association, explained in an article for Israel Today a few years ago:
“The Aramean Christian community has existed in the Land of Israel from time immemorial. Jesus and his Jewish family from the line of King David spoke Aramaic, as did all the residents of the Galilee region at that time. Only later did the Israeli Christian population go through a brutal forced process of arabization following the 7th century Muslim conquest.
“The Christians of the Fertile Crescent (comprised today of Israel, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq) are direct descendants of the Aramaic Syriac population that inhabited this region together with the Jews long before the Arab Muslim conquest.
“Jews and Christians, from those early times and until today, share a common holy book. Both trace their spiritual origins to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Israel), and to the book of the prophets. Both pray and sing from the Psalms of King David, and many of our prayers are very similar in content, especially regarding our views of the outside world and other peoples.
“More than that, we share a common ancestry. Abraham and his line were Aramean (see Deuteronomy 26:5). It is no coincidence that Christianity, which was birthed from Judaism, was first adopted by our people, and from this region spread to the whole world.”
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