CBN Israel Supports Christian Citizens Serving in Israel’s Army

By Nicole Jansezian

With new threats from Iran and Hezbollah as Israel’s war in Gaza stretches into its sixth month, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) faces a personnel challenge and has ordered leave to be temporarily paused for all combat soldiers.

While military service is mandatory for all 18-year-old men and women and most Jewish Israelis serve their time after high school, many Arab citizens—both Muslims and Christians—opt not to enlist.

Currently, only 3.5 percent of the Arab population serves in the military, according to the IDF, despite being more than one fifth of the nation’s citizens.

Christians comprise only 2 percent of the country’s population, but one group of Christian Israelis are trying to encourage the young members of their community to play a larger role in serving and defending their nation—and CBN Israel is supporting the cause.  

Arameans are Christian citizens of Israel who have been in the land since the time of Jesus and have recently fought to categorize their identity as separate from Arab citizens.

Many of them also believe that as a minority population in Israel, they must integrate into the nation—and that includes serving in the army.

Dozens of Aramean teens recently took part in a Christian-Jewish military prep course that would not only help them prepare to serve in the military but also to get to know others with whom they wouldn’t have regular interaction.

The graduation, in February, prepared another 48 teens ready to enlist in the IDF. Shadi Khalloul, who founded Kinneret in 2017, said 1,000 students applied.

The program at Kibbutz Beit Zera, near the Sea of Galilee, is called Kinneret and is sponsored through partnership with the Jewish Agency.

After seven months, new batches of teens graduate after learning each other’s languages and cultures and developing relationships and trust that did not previously exist.

Earlier this year, CBN Israel attended the most recent graduation and has joined arms with Khalloul in helping integrate the Christian community better into Israeli society through such a valuable program.

Nicole Jansezian is the media coordinator for CBN Israel. A long-time journalist, Nicole was previously the news editor of All Israel News and All Arab News and a journalist at The Associated Press. On her YouTube channel, Nicole gives a platform to the minority communities in Jerusalem and highlights stories of fascinating people in this intense city. Born and raised in Queens, N.Y., she lives in Jerusalem with her husband, Tony, and their three children.

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