(JNS.org) Israeli Christian leader Shadi Khalloul, spokesman for the Israeli Christian Recruitment Forum, called Israel a “paradise” for Christians as part of a wide-ranging interview on the status of Middle East Christians with the Italian newspaper Informazione Corretta.
“Israel is a paradise for us. Israel is the paradise for Christians from the Middle East,” Khalloul said. “In Israel we enjoy freedom and have rights, we can say what we want, organize activities, found associations, and that is why we can be so active in society.”
Khalloul is part of a group of Israeli Christians who are seeking greater integration into Israeli life, including volunteering for military service, as well as promoting an Israeli-Christian identity that is separate from Israeli-Arab Muslims.
“We are Israeli by citizenship, Aramean by nationality and Christian by religion,” Khalloul said. “This is our identity. We are not Arabs. Christians have abandoned their identity when Arab nationalism and pan-Arabism have developed, but if you consider Christians in the Middle East today, that choice was not rewarding.”
Last month, Khalloul, along with 150 other Christians, staged a protest outside the European Union’s Embassy in Israel to demand that the EU do more to protect Middle East Christians.
“The West and Europe need to step up and do something for the Christians in Iraq, Syria, as they did in Lebanon in 1960s. They must stop Islamic and Arab terrorism, be it Sunni or Shi’i. They must take action to protect Christians, through sanctions and guaranteeing security,” Khalloul said in the interview.