Muslim, Christian leaders decry Israel enlisting of Christian Arabs

by Rula Samain | May 04, 2014 | 22:48

AMMAN — Muslim and Christian leaders, and intellectuals have denounced a recent Israeli move to recruit Arab Christians in its army as a “Zionist conspiracy aiming not only to divide and weaken the Arab ranks, but also to push Christians to leave their original land”.

The Archbishop of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem Atallah Hanna told The Jordan Times in a phone interview last week that the Orthodox Church “strongly condemns” Israeli attempts to recruit Arab Christians from 1948 Palestine for “religious, humanitarian, ethical and identity reasons”.

“We reject a policy that forces our children to hold weapons and oppress and kill their own people,” the archbishop said during a visit to Amman.

Hanna said that the Arab and Palestinian identity of Christians is a red line that the church would not allow anyone to cross.

Asked about the number of Christians who have already joined the Israeli army, the church leader charged that the Israeli media has published misleading figures.

“The reader of Israeli newspapers might think people are joining in the tens of thousands, standing in line to be recruited while the truth is only few people have enlisted.”

These people, he said, “only represent themselves”.

He accused Israel of attempting to “uproot the Arab Christian population and split the Arab Palestinian community”.

He said that Israel is taking advantage of the Arab Spring’s negative impact on Christians, especially the suffering of the Syrian Christians, who are targeted by militants fighting the Syrian regime and other groups, including Islamic factions that share with them the same ideology.

Therefore, the archbishop urged Muslims and Christians in Palestine and the region to work for stronger coexistence, better understanding and to reject, in one voice, religious and sectarian violence.

A Sharia (Islamic law) professor at the University of Jordan, Wael Arabiat, told The Jordan Times that this “wicked” Israeli policy is aimed to rip Arabs apart, both Muslims and Christians.

He added that the decrease in the number of the Christian community in Palestine is “sadly very visible”, and is what Israel wants.

“We [Arabs] should unite and overcome our conflicts, well aware that we share the same just cause and one destiny,” said Arabiat.

The move, which escalates an ongoing anger, marks the first time that Israel has called on the Arab Christian population to join its military.

Middle East Media Research Specialist at Oklahoma University, Khalaf Tahat, told The Jordan Times in an e-mail interview that the Israeli move is “malicious” and reflects a “mentality of plotting and conspiracies” targeting Arabs.

“By recruiting Christians into its military, Israel is sending a direct message to Christians urging them to forget their ethnic identity as Arabs,” Tahat said.

A Jordanian Christian computer analyst, Monther Twal, said: “We should not fall into the Israeli trap that aims at driving a wedge among Arabs.”

Former member of the Lower House Fakhri Dawood voiced confidence that Arab Christians in Israel, who constitute 10 per cent of the Arab population, will not fall for the Israeli scheme, adding that they historically have managed to discover and foil plots like these.


Categories: Arab World, Asia, Israel, Palestine

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