Reuven Rivlin – President of Israel hosts the leaders of the Christian Community in Israel.
Christian communities in the Middle East live a life surrounded by discrimination, lack of tolerance and in many places they live in fear. Witness the constant attacks against the Egyptian Christian Coptics, the burning of their churches and the continual threat to their lives. We remember the poor Christian Yazidis and Assyrians that were enslaved and massacred by the hundreds of thousands by ISIS – both in Iraq and Syria. In the Gaza Strip, there are almost no Christians. Twenty years ago in the West Bank, Christians comprised 20-30% of the population, while today that number has shrunk to only 0.2%. In Saudi Arabia, Iran, and the Gulf countries there are almost none!
Unfortunately, Islam is often considered and in reality often against Christians as much as it is against Jews. Thus, the Christians in the Middle East suffer tremendously.
The only safe haven in this area for Christians is Israel.
More than 160,000 Christians (including Armenians, Catholics, and Greek Orthodox) live in Israel. Christians are a religious minority in the State of Israel, just as Jews are a minority among American citizens.
Israel, as the only democratic state in the Middle East, acts according to majority rule, but protects the rights of minorities and does not harm them or discriminate against them. Although the State of Israel is a Jewish state, it defends the rights of its Christian inhabitants, allows them freedom of religious belief and a Christian way of life.
Many Christian Arabs in Israel live in Christian holy cities such as Nazareth and Jerusalem. Other large concentrations of Christian Arabs are in Haifa and Shfaram. Arab Christians belong to various Christian denominations – Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Protestant.
Although Israeli law requires compulsory army service at the age of 18, it does not apply to Christians, yet some in the State of Israel express a desire to enlist in the Israel Defense Forces to contribute to the state and to participate in Israeli society.