Christian Palestinians reject calls to join Israeli army


Representatives of orthodox national institutions in Jerusalem and the Palestinian territories have rejected the recruitment of Christians in the Israeli army yesterday.

At a meeting in Jerusalem the foundations emphasised that the churches, Christian institutions and members of Christian denominations strongly reject recruiting their children in the Israeli army on the basis of ethical, humanitarian and national considerations.

They stressed that “those who call for recruitment and encourage Christian youth to join the occupation army do not represent the church and do not represent Christians of whom the majority reject the army recruitment in its entirety.”

The Orthodox institutions called on the Christian youth who receive forms requesting them to volunteer in the Israeli army to “shred them and throw them in the bin because dealing with these requests is not permitted in any way”.

They stressed the importance of young people collectively rejecting and confirming their allegiance to Palestinian Arabs. They have also approved a series of activities and events that call for the rejection of recruitment as well as a media campaign to explain the seriousness of this phenomenon.

The idea of Christian youth recruitment was raised in June last year when a hundred or so supporters of the military service met in the town of Jaffa; they were mostly Christian soldiers in the ranks of the Israeli army and police. The group was in the presence of the bishop Gabriel Nadav of the Greek Orthodox community and a number of security men.

In response to this, the Greek Orthodox community spokesman in Jerusalem Father Issa Musleh said: “We reject the recruitment of our Christian children in the Israeli army in Nazareth, Jaffa or anywhere else in the country and we have stated so in the past.”

Musleh added: “It is not permitted for any Priest or anyone of the priesthood to tarnish the reputation or, through giving a political opinion, offend the Arab Orthodox Christian community, which has led and continues to play a role in the Palestinian struggle and has numerous historical accounts in doing so.”