Ahead of the Christmas holiday, the spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) shared with all Israelis in Hebrew the words of the army’s most senior Aramean Christian officer, Lt.-Col. Ihab Shlayan.
The IDF Spokesman shared the post on Facebook, where it received thousands of likes and hundreds of comments from supportive Israeli Jews.
Shlayan’s address delivered at a holiday gathering of Christian soldiers was shared in full. Below are excerpts.
“I have served with love and great honor in the army of the people of Israel for 21 years. As a loyal son of the Aramean Christian community, I decided to enlist for military service, as so many others from our community who have bound their lives and fates to the State of Israel, her security and her prosperity.
“I stand here, proud as I am every year, to represent the officers and soldiers from the Christian community, a quality group that continues to grow.
“In 2012, together with my friends, I established the ‘Christian Recruitment Forum’ to encourage greater integration with Israeli society. Today, a decade later, I am full of pride and anticipation, because we are in the midst of a significant revolution by the courageous young sons and daughters of the [Christian] community.
“We, as a minority of Christians in Israel in general and those serving in the IDF in particular, see ourselves as leading the way in the defense of the Holy Land together with our Jewish brothers.
“For us, too, we have no other country.
“I will conclude with the words of the first president of the State of Israel, Dr. Chaim Weizmann, who summarized clearly and precisely the vision that guides me and all of us in our mission: ‘The future of the State of Israel depends on three foundations – brotherly love, an effort to build, and peace both near and far.’”