(JNS.org) Father Gabriel Nadaf, an Israeli-Greek Orthodox priest, spoke in defense of Israel at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva on Tuesday, arguing that the Jewish state is the only safe place in the Middle East for Christians.
“In the Middle East today, there is one country where Christianity is not only not persecuted, but affectionately granted freedom of expression, freedom of worship and security,” Nadaf said. “It is Israel, the Jewish state. Israel is the only place where Christians in the Middle East are safe.”
The 47-nation human rights council—which has been a frequent critic of Israeli policies towards the Palestinians—recently launched a probe into Israel’s conduct during the Gaza war, but not Hamas’s actions.
“Leaders of people, seekers of peace, end your witch hunt of the only free country in the region,” said Nadaf, who also told the UNHRC that roughly 120,000 Mideast Christians have been killed during each year for the past decade, meaning that “every five minutes a Christian is killed because of his faith.”
“Those who can escape persecution at the hands of Muslim extremists have fled. … Those who remain exist as second if not third-class citizens to their Muslim rulers,” he said.
As an outspoken proponent of Israeli Christians forming their own identity apart from the Jewish state’s Arab-Muslim citizens, and for Christians to serve in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), Nadaf has received numerous death threats from Arabs. Additionally, his pro-IDF stance reportedly prompted an Arab to physically assault his son last year.
But in a more positive development for Nadaf, Israel recently recognized “Aramean” as an official nationality on Israeli identification cards. “All Christians from the 133,000 Christians who live in Israel and belong to one of the Eastern churches can now be listed as an Aramean,” Nadaf said at the time of the announcement.