Israeli-Arab Christians seek to forge their own identity through new party

( Amid the backdrop of tension within Israel’s Arab community over enlistment in the Israel Defense Forces, Israeli-Arab Christians are seeking to forge their own new identity apart from Israeli-Arab Muslims through the formation of their own political party.

The new party will be named Habrit Hahadashah (The New Alliance); the party’s name includes the word brit, or covenant, in reference to Christianity’s New Testament.

“The entire thing started from the fact that I wanted to get my nephew into the army and there were difficulties, they really didn’t want him to integrate. Today he is a major in a combat unit,” Bashara Shlayan, founder of the new Arab Christian party, told Israel Hayom.

Shlayan added, “We also invited priests from the church to a conference we held in Nazareth Illit. One of them is the Church patriarch, Father Gabriel Nadaf [who has drawn the ire of Arab MKs recently for encouraging Christian Arab youth to join the IDF], who preferred [our way] and said we were right.”

Shlayan said many Israeli-Arab Christians simply want to be recognized as loyal citizens.

“They [Israeli-Arab leaders] think being against Israel is Arab nationalism, that it is the manly thing. But if you oppose this way of thinking, you are a traitor. This is what needs to be changed. It’s stupidity. So I demand that we, the Christians, be recognized as loyal citizens of the state,” Shlayan said.

Posted on July 9, 2013 .