This news headline is full of supposed contradictions with “Israel Defense Force”, “Christian soldiers” and “Christmas party” all in the mix; but it is not as unusual as one might think. With Father Gabriel Naddaf at the helm of the Israeli Christians Recruitment Forum, it should be no surprise. This prominent priest in the Greek Orthodox Church is a spokesperson for the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem and also a judge in that church’s courts.
Israeli demographics show naturally that Jews are in the majority in Israel and up until recently only Jewish youths, both male and female, were conscripted into the army. Father Naddaf has worked hard to help Arab Christian recruits receive the same opportunities as other minority groups such as Druze and Bedouin, and be able to contribute to this shared Land. Recruitment into the IDF is one way in which to foster appreciation for Israel and to encourage coexistence. Father Naddaf has said in the past that he believes in shared life between Jews and Christians and when his own son completed his schooling, he received much support from his father, despite strong opposition from Arab citizens of Israel who do not believe in coexistence, to join the ranks of what is being called the most moral army in the world.
With the numbers of Arab Christian recruits growing and with the Christmas Season being celebrated in large pockets all over Israel, the party was a perfect opportunity to thank the soldiers for their contributions and service to Israel and present them with gifts.