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Monday, 15 December 2014

Israel Only Mideast Country Where Christians Are Free

JERUSALEM, Israel -- With Christmas a little over a week away, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Christians and other minorities are protected in the Jewish state.

Speaking at the Forum for Drafting Christians into the Israel Defense Forces on Sunday, Netanyahu said Israel is the sole country in the Middle East where Christians can live freely.

Entire Christian communities in surrounding countries, some that existed for thousands of years, are being "deleted in one fell swoop," he said.

Netanyahu thanked Arab Christians and other minorities for serving in the Israel Defense Forces.

The number of Arab Christians serving in the IDF has increased threefold since Father Gabriel Nadaf established the Forum for Christian Community more than two years ago.

But the increase hasn't come without a price. One year ago, Father Nadaf's then 17-year-old son was brutally beaten in Nazareth, the town where Jesus grew up and home to Israel's largest Christian Arab population.

Israeli Arabs, including Christians, welcome the opportunity to serve in the IDF, many choosing combat units and welcoming training that helps shape their future career paths.

At Sunday's forum, Netanyahu said Israel fosters good relations, based on mutual respect, equal rights, and equal obligations among its Jewish and non-Jewish citizens.  

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