Israel Separates Arab Christians from Muslim Arabs

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For the first time in Israel's modern history, the Knesset granted Arab Christians separate legal recognition from Muslim Arabs.

The bill allows Arab Christians to identify themselves solely as Christians. It also gives them representation on an important economic commission.

The decision is part of a larger movement to integrate Arab Christians more fully into Israeli life.

One Greek Orthodox priest is encouraging Arab Christians to join the Israeli Army. But Christian Arab Munther Na'um said Arab Christians cannot agree with that.

"It's a political issue to serve in the Israeli army and we cannot agree with that," he told Christianity Today.

"We, Christian Arabs in Israel belong to the Palestinian people. Even the government has understood that we cannot be placed into such a situation to serve in the army because if there were a war in the Middle East, we would have to take part in it," he said.

"I believe most Arabs will refuse this decision," Munther Na'um predicted, arguing that by recognizing Christians as a separate minority and distinguishing between Muslim and Christian Arab communities, Israeli families may now be split in political decisions.

"It's not good for Arabs, whether Christians or Muslims, or the Jews."

He added that lawmakers are "trying to separate us by religious status and create a political situation from that."

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