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June 25, 2013 11:28 am

Israeli Defense Ministry Fights Ouster of Pro-IDF Christian Arab Leader

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Israeli MK and Deputy Knesset Speaker Danny Danon. Photo: World Likud. Israel must help Arab Christians who choose to serve in the Israel Defense Forces, Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon (Likud) said on Tuesday, Israel Hayom reported.

Danon cited the recent controversy surrounding a prominent member of the Greek Orthodox community, Father Jibra’il (Gabriel) Nadaf, who participated in an event that was designed to encourage Arab youth to join the Israeli armed forces. Nadaf was scolded by some Israeli Arabs and Palestinian officials after the event, with some calling on him to resign. The head of the Orthodox Church of Jerusalem, Patriarch Theophilos III, held a disciplinary hearing for Nadaf on Tuesday ahead of his potential dismissal.

According to a statement released by Danon’s bureau on Tuesday, the deputy minister seeks to establish a dedicated department in his ministry that would “take a determined stance to counter anyone who incites against and threatens those who want to integrate into Israeli society.”

Danon plans to convene a special meeting on the matter, the statement said. According to the statement, representatives from the Religious Services Ministry, the Interior Ministry and the Arab Christian community will be in attendance.

“Those who want to serve the country must know that the state will have their backs and protect them,” Danon said on Tuesday.

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