JERUSALEM, Israel -- The Israeli army is inviting Arab Christians to enlist.
Both male and female Jewish Israelis are automatically drafted into the Israel Defense Forces when they finish high school. But minorities are exempt.
Christian Arabs have historically viewed themselves as part of the Palestinian Arab people and therefore not opted to serve in the IDF. But recently Father Gabriel Nadaf, a Greek Orthodox priest, has been encouraging Christian Arab youth to enlist as one way to integrate into society.
Now, instead of waiting for the Christians to come to the IDF, the IDF will send out invitations to Arab Christians inviting them to join, the officer in charge of recruitment, Col. Gal Ben-Shaul, said on Tuesday.
Israeli Arabs make up about one-fifth of Israel's population. Of those, less than 10 percent are Christians.