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December 8, 2013 10:30 am

Netanayhu Vows to Protect Minorities Enlisting in IDF

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avatar by Joshua Levitt

Prime Minister Netanyahu at his government's weekly cabinet meeting. Photo: Screenshot.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday vowed to protect Christian, Muslim and Druze recruits to the Israel Defense Forces from “physical attacks” by “extremist elements.”

In a statement preceding his government’s weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu said, “I have heard about the threats of physical attacks by extremist elements in Israeli society against Christians, Christian Arabs who want to enlist in the IDF, who want to be part of the State of Israel. Against these people is an extremist group that is threatening them. We will not tolerate this; I will not tolerate this.”

“We will use all of our tools to stop these thugs and we will allow whoever – Christian, Muslim and Druze – wants to link their fate even more to the State of Israel and wants to serve in the IDF to do so. We will protect them,” Netanyahu said.

The prime minister’s reference to threats against non-Jewish recruits to the IDF comes as the formation of a new political party, B’nei Brit HaHadasha — “Sons of the New Testament” —  by merchant seaman Bishara Shilyan, whose nephew serves as a major in the Israeli Army, recently led to some 90 Arab Christians enlisting in the IDF, a threefold-increase compared to 2010, JNS reported last month.

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“Jews call us ‘Arabs.’ For Muslims, we’re ‘Christians,’ not Arabs. We’re Israeli Christians, nothing short of that,” Shilyan told Inter Press Service.

Also in November, 250 Arab-Christian youths attended a recruitment event organized by the IDF, with the assistance of Father Gabriel Nadaf, an orthodox priest from Nazareth and a vocal supporter of Christian recruitment into the armed forces. Nadaf said, “It’s only natural that the country which protects us deserves that we contribute to its defense.”

Christian Arabs in Israel total 130,000, or less than 10 percent of the total Arab population in Israel.

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