A Greek Orthodox priest from Nazareth in northern Israel told the United Nations Human Rights Council that in the Middle East, it's only in Israel where Christians can live peacefully as he asked the Geneva-based body to stop its “witch hunt” against “the only free country in the region.”
“In the Middle East today, there is one country where Christianity is not only not persecuted, but affectionately granted freedom of expression, freedom of worship and security,” Father Gabriel Nadaf said Tuesday. “Israel is the only place where Christians in the Middle East are safe.”
Nadaf estimated that 120,000 Christians have been killed in the Middle East for the past decade: “That means that every five minutes, a Christian is killed because of his faith.” Those who haven’t been killed are relegated to second-class citizen status, Nadaf said, echoing reports from territories captured by the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq.
It “is time the world woke up to the fact that those who want to destroy the Jewish state are signing the death warrant on the last free Christians in the Holy Land,” Nadaf told the U.N. “Leaders of people, seekers of peace, end your witch hunt of the only free country in the region.”
Following his initiative two years ago to encourage Christian Arab Israelis to enlist in the Israel Defense Forces, Nadaf faced scorn and threats from other Israeli Arabs.
The Algemeiner news site reported that Israel’s Christian population “has more than quadrupled since its independence in 1948, from 34,000 to 158,000 in 2012.” At the same time, Christian communities in the West Bank, Gaza, Egypt, Syria, Iraq are dwindling as a result of intimidation, threats and physical assaults from Islamist militants.
According to the Times of Israel, Nadaf’s son was attacked and hospitalized in December over his father’s views.
The Times of Israel reported that Nadaf spoke to the U.N. on behalf of the Face of Israel, a group that partners with Israel’s foreign ministry to combat the campaign to boycott Israel.