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December 30, 2014 2:00 pm

A Month After Joining IDF, Christian Arab Pastor’s Son Recounts Beating, Cries of ‘Traitor’

avatar by Dave Bender

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Christian Arab pastor Gabriel Nadaf with his IDF soldier son, Jubran. Photo: Nadaf family

“Despite being attacked because of his father’s support for IDF recruitment among Arab Christians, the son of Father Gabriel Nadaf says a month into basic training that “I’m not afraid,” Israel’s Channel 2 News reported on Tuesday.

“I did not have to enlist, I volunteered for the army because I live in this country and I want to contribute. For years I knew what I wanted to do,” he said.

And not only that. 18-year-old Jubran Nadaf, who recently completed a basic training course for radio technicians and will soon begin his duties, hopes to continue on to officer training later in his service.

A year ago, a 21-year-old Arab Nazareth resident was arrested on suspicion of attacking Jubran with an iron bar, and his father reports being regularly threatened.

“They told me I was a traitor and beat me,” Jubran said of the ordeal, which required a three-day hospitalization for his injuries.

Nadaf, a Greek Orthodox priest from the town of Yafia, in the north of Israel, has spent the last two years urging Israel’s Christian community to join the Israeli military, based on his conviction that the Jewish state is the only country in the Middle East where Christians can practice their faith free from persecution.

The numbers would appear to bear him out; in marked contrast to the other states in the region, where Christian populations have declined dramatically because of oppression and political conflict, the size of the community in Israel has more than quadrupled since independence in 1948, from 34,000 to 158,000 in 2012.

Prior to Nadaf’s recruitment drive, an average of only 30 Christians joined the IDF each year. In 2013, Nadaf’s efforts pushed that number up to 150; hence his confident assertion that this figure will be more than doubled in 2015.

“I will make a prediction,” Father Nadaf, told The Algemeiner in November. “Next year, in 2015, there will be 400 Christian recruits into the IDF.

While his father obviously influenced his recruitment, Jubran said he knew knew he wanted to get into uniform years earlier.

“I do not care if you beat me up or curse me, nothing frightens me,” he said.

“Every day there are threats on my life,” Father Nadaf noted.

“They threaten to tear me to pieces, and even offered $300,000 to anyone who would hurt me,” he recounted.

While change is not easy and Jubran is his first son to enlist, Nadaf senior said “it was very exciting. It’s always dangerous, but if we were afraid we wouldn’t have taken this step.”

In mid-August, thirty members of Israel’s first pre-military course specifically tailored for Christian citizens – among then four women – celebrated their graduation in a formal ceremony in Haifa

Israeli law does not require most non-Jews to serve in the military. But in April, the IDF launched a campaign to encourage more Christians to volunteer, mailing out voluntary enlistment forms to potential recruits. About 128,000 Christians currently live in Israel.

“We are actively working toward integrating all populations [into the army], and see this [pre-military course for Christians] as a very important step in that direction,” according to Gadi Agmon, the head of the army’s Human Resources, Planning and Management Division.

Israeli politicians, among them Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have warmly embraced Nadaf.

“Members of the Christian community must be allowed to enlist in the IDF. You are loyal citizens who want to defend the state and I salute you and support you,” Netanyahu said after meeting with Nadaf in 2013.

Meanwhile, Father Nadaf is continuing his activities at parlor meetings, conferences and lectures.

“We won’t let the extremists win – be we do take care. In the end, we will defeat the violence against Christian soldiers.

“The process is well advanced; in 2013, 150 Christians joined the IDF and all are proud of their uniforms and service. We will continue to contribute to the country,” Nadaf said.

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  • Dr. Solomon Golomb

    The most important allies that Israel has are the Christians who support us. This includes the Evangelicals (but not the “liberal” churches) in America, many of the Christian Arabs in both Israel and Lebanon (at their own peril), and the leadership of the Mormon Church. Many of the Christian Arabs in Israel and the territories are intimidated into making anti-Israel statements by their Moslem Arab neighbors. Father Nadav is particularly courageous. It is a serious mistake to blame all present-day Christians for Christian persecution of Jews in bygone ages. We need all the friends we can get.



  • Brianna

    Only makes sense for the Christian Arabs to enlist, considering Israel is the one place in the ME where they are actually safe. Wonder who is calling them traitors though, Israeli Muslim Arabs or other Christian Arabs.

  • tony

    I’m really struck by the comments ‘ Christians in front line’ or ” the least they can do”, why can’t they see it in the present times?. Why is there still such hatred to them when you need all the support that is willing you to help you to survive the Jeweish state of Israel. The threats from within as from outside should turn you more cooperative to those who want to support you and your proclaimed Jewish State. Ask yourselves why USA and EU are turning away from you.

    • Joanne Miller

      That’s not hard to know. They, or at least the leaders of the EU have drunk the kool-aid of muslim propaganda. They have no concept of the danger coming at them like a freight train. That said, there are trust issues that shouldn’t be overlooked, and for good reason. You’d know that if you had grown up being beaten for being Jewish and called “Christ killer in 70 different languages, as Jews around the world have unfortunately experienced

  • victoria brandeis

    sure put them on the front line…….i have no comment other than that the first to kill us in masses is the christians….so this is a double entendre … fancy words…..send them all to the gaza or england……already live in a too christian world…not that there is horror or abuse in the America’s …there just are no ears to hear and no eyes to see and no hands to be held or honoured by…..only arms to wrestle, choke and shoot. And then there is the big “O”…..who by far would stretch all american jews along the mexican border and have us all shot……

    such foolish humans to trust the ugly…..yes…american is the ugly.. from native indians , beautiful black talented people from beyond this century and so much more……and, the world remains ‘stupid’

    all this is another addition

    after all these years….surely stupidity does not rest on yours…….

    • Joanne Miller

      Certainly, as Jews, we cannot afford to snub or snap at those who would be our friends. Anyone who would voluntarily risk their own life for one of us, or for Israel IS a friend.

  • A.Franklin

    Agree:Israel is the safest place in the Middle East for Christians.

  • Helena

    I have respect for these people, knowing the danger they face from the muslim/arab population in |Israel.

  • Robert Davis

    Father Nadaf is an honest and brave man but after all it is the least he can do considering the favourable way christians are treated in Israel when they are killed,threatened,tortured and expelled from all arab countries from where they have almost vanished including morocco,algeria,tunisia etc. where only expats are tolerated for economic reasons and because governments know they will not remain for long. Already many expats are leaving after taking big losses on their houses, business etc. as they are beginning to understand there is no future for them in arab countries.

  • baerlibrum


    Thank you sooo muuuch for sharing this wonderful news
    in a time where bad news are so common
    people like this young christian are LIGHT in this DARK WORLD
    todah raba
    kol tow


  • It’s not clear who is attacking or threatening them. Is it Arab Christians or Arab Muslims? It’s also not clear how many Christians live in Israel. Is it 158,000 or 128,000? While Muslim states are destroying ancient Christian communities, that pre-date Islam, Israel welcomes Christians like the C of E vicar of Baghdad.

  • Lauren Goldman

    Israel, the only country in the Middle East where Christians are not persecuted.

  • Reform School

    How sad Israeli Muslim and Haredim lack such appreciation

    • Simon

      That’s not fair or appropriate. You’re just trying to spread hate. I live in Bnei Brak and I see plenty of haredim in uniform, and people don’t slam or insult the IDF here.

    • NoraR

      Reform School: Haredi, Muslims and members of other religious minorities do serve in IDF, and their service is greatly appreciated.
      You should check facts before you open your mouth to spew ignorant and spiteful comments.

  • Shalom all!

    Father Gabriel Naddaf and his son(s) are great heroes.

    It is my contention that he and other Arabic-speaking Christians of Israel should be represented in the Knesset.

    For that reason, I, a Jew of the Jews, am working to create the Bible Bloc/Gush Hatanachi Party, a partnership party of Jews and Christians with a 50/50 Jewish/Christian candidate list for the Knesset elections.

    We are not in time for the March 17th elections but hopefully in the next one. If PM Netanyahu doesn’t give Father Naddaf a safe slot in the Likud list, then Father Naddaf will be offered the highest slot on my list, God-willing.

    We shall wait and see. The Christians in Israel bless us and are part of our nuclear families. Therefore they should be blessed. As the father’s of the American Revolution believed: “No taxation without representation.” Or as it says in the Holy Torah: “I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you.”

    Shalom from Avi Lipkin, presently in Kedar, Israel.

  • steven L

    There are few Christians and Muslims who have decided to join the sanity side.

  • judithg

    they love Israel because they are true Israelis and proud and brave. they fight alongside the Jews of Israel because they are righteous and courageous, rare and special. when there is so much ignorance and cowardice and evil in the world our highest calling as humans is insight and consciousness, compassion and respect for what is true. these are the gifts we’ve been granted. it comes from a lofty place on high. that is when our souls rise to heaven. the rest is just dung.

  • Sonia Willats

    The Nadaf family is standing as a beacon and a hedge with the IDF against the darkness of Islamic hatred and extremism in the whole Middle East. I honour the IDF and this wonderful and courageous family who respect and are loyal to the State of Israel.

  • Chava

    Brave guy, brave family. I hope they continue to inspire others.

  • Vivarto

    The article does not say who beat the soldier.
    The Muhammadans or the Christians?

    • Arabella

      To all who are wondering….just for the record: True Christians would never beat up another Christian!

      (It is so regrettable that those who are culturally Christians – ie: in name only, have caused such confusion by their behaviour in the past eg: the Crusaders, the perpetrators and collaborators in the holocaust, the IRA, etc.)

      A true follower of Jesus and the Holy Bible, could never attack or harm their brother in that wa – they would be demonstrating that they are FALSE. And giving true followers a bad name – of course.

      Faithful Muslims on the other hand would be demonstrating true obedience to their scriptures…because they worship another….NOT he G-d of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob!

  • Lee1

    What most of the anti-zionist/anti-Jewish world doesn’t believe, or want to believe, is that Israel is a democracy and the Christian, Druze, Beduim, and other minorities are all accepted leading good lives, and more and more serving in the IDF.
    Shame on the Charedim who refuse to serve. Busha v’Cherpa.
    They think it is a shonda not to study day and night. Let others go and defend the country. But they will yell and scream for their right not to serve, and not to work, rather to collect govt welfare subsidies. Shame on those Charedim who refuse to enlist in the IDF.

    • Zvi

      What a shame that Lee1 was allowed to comment. People are commenting on how wonderful it is that Christians are serving in the IDF and instead of adding in a meaningful way to the conversation Lee 1 chose to be like his hero Yair Lapid ys”v. He could have commended the many Chareidim who serve in the IDF, but instead chooses to yyycreate more Sinas China. may HKB”H bless Lee1with with the same fate as R’ Yishmael

  • Freeman1776

    Great article, but I am wondering how well the research of the Christian population was handled.

    In one paragraph the author states…

    “Christian populations have declined dramatically because of oppression and political conflict, the size of the community in Israel has more than quadrupled since independence in 1948, from 34,000 to 158,000 in 2012”

    …and in a later paragraph, the number of the Christian population is dramatically reduced by 30,000…

    “About 128,000 Christians currently live in Israel”

    How can this be?

  • carol

    I have had the great pleasure to have met Father Nadav. He’s a marvelous man, well-spoken, intelligent, kind and and an incredibly brave man. I salute him, and wish him, his family and community happiness and safety.

  • Kenneth T. Tellis

    Loyalty comes when a person finds that he and his religion are not persecuted or hampered by the state. If the Christians of Israel are respected, how can they not show respect for a country that is proud of them?

    One has only to see the persecution of Christians by Muslim countries in the Middle East to understand why Christians cannot feel at home, nor practice their religion under very harsh conditions laid down by Islamic law.

  • Jonah

    Before he coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord, he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to the father…Malachi 4:6

  • Yoel Nitzarim

    It is of the utmost importance that Christian young men and women and ideally Muslim young men and women participate in defending Israel as recipients of the democratic values and life style they have grown up in and will continue to live in as citizens of the country. A true democracy involves all of its constituency, every one who benefits from its freedoms.

  • charlie johnson

    The trend in the USA since the royal golfer became commander in chief is to move Christians out of the armed forces.

  • bea green JP BA

    My sincere respect goes to Father Gabriel Nadaf and, of course, to his son.

    I wish them and their community a very happy, successful New Year.

    Bea Green