There is an interesting little internal dilemma brewing in Israel — what will be the allegiance of Arab Christians? There is legislative policy proposal to officially declare Israel a Jewish state, even though around 1.7 million Arabs, including 161,000 Arab Christians, live in Israel, making up more than 20 percent of the population.
According to the UK Telegraph, “The bill to designate Israel as “the nation state of the Jewish people” is supported by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and would deny collective national rights to the Arab minority and strip Arabic of its status as one of the country’s official languages. Plans to table the bill were delayed after the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, was dissolved this month and a general election called for March, but it is certain to be a controversial issue in the forthcoming campaign.”
However, not all Arab Christians are concerned by this move.
“Sitting in front of the family Christmas tree dressed in military fatigues, Amir Shalayan seemed in no doubt about his identity. “When you go back in religion, I consider myself a real Jew,” he said, unabashed by the non-Jewish festive decorations in his living room. “Jesus was Jewish and he was observing the Shabbat (Jewish sabbath).” Mr Shalayan is in fact an Arab Christian, a category he refers to as “Aramean”, but his strong identification with the Jewish faith is offered as explanation for his keen army service.”
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