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Israel Recognizes 'Arameans' as Nationality

09-18-2014

JERUSALEM, Israel -- In what many are applauding as an "historic decision," Israeli Interior Ministry Gideon Sa'ar approved the designation of Aramean Christians as a nationality in Israel.

Sa'ar said Arameans fulfill the criteria of a nationality, including historical heritage, religion, language and culture. He instructed Population Authority head Amnon Ben-Ami and his staff to register Arameans applying for their Israeli ID cards by their nationality.

IDF Maj. (res.) Shadi Halul called it an "historic decision and an historic change for the relations between Christians and Jews in the State of Israel," the Israeli daily Israel Hayom reported.

Halul said the decision is "proof that Israel protects its citizens and the identity of its minorities, unlike all the Arab nations around us."

Father Gabriel Nadaf, a Greek Orthodox priest from Nazareth, also praised Sa'ar's decision, calling it "brave."

Nadaf said it paves the way for Israeli Christians from all Eastern Orthodox churches to be designated as Aramean on their identity cards.

Father Nadaf has been encouraging Israeli Christians to serve in the IDF for years, supporting the Israeli Christians Recruitment Forum, founded by Maj. Ihab Shlayan.

"[Israeli] Christians won't be held hostage, won't be ruled any longer by those who would force their ethnicity, religion, way of life on them," Israel Hayom's Dror Eydar quoted Shlayan. 

"We won't be protected wards and hide behind the groups who control the street. We want to live in Israel and a historic wrong was righted. Congratulations to the Aramenas and here's to a fruitful life together in the Holy Land," he said.

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