As a people, the Encyclopædia Britannica says the Aramaeans essentially ceased to exist centuries ago. Yet best known in the West as the language spoken by Christ, the Aramaic language survives to this day in both isolated villages in the Middle East and in the liturgical language of Lebanon’s Maronite-Rite Catholics.
As reported by the Israel National News on Sept. 17, 2014, Israel’s ancient Christian community will no longer have to ethnically identify themselves as Arab, but now to the more correct Aramaean. With the nation living virtually under siege from more than a few rather bloody and violet Islamic Jihaadist groups that don’t hide their express desire to kill those that don’t worship as they do, the Israeli Ministry of the Interior has authorized the Arabic and/or Aramaic-speaking Christians to change their ethnicity on their National Identification Cards, which all Israelis are require to possess.
Interior Minister Gideon Saar ordered the Population, Immigration and Border Authority (PIBA) to allow the change in registration to Aramaean for those Israeli citizens who were previously registered as Arabs. Minister Saar instructed PIBA Director Amnon Ben-Ami that he has “received three opinions according to which the existence of the Aramaean nationality is clear and obvious, as required by the Supreme Court’s ruling.”
Per the ruling from the Jewish State’s Supreme Court, the Christians living in Israel who fall into the following categories rate the change: Those that identify themselves as Aramaean; can speak Aramaic; or identify themselves religiously as either Maronite Catholic, Orthodox Aramaic, Greek Orthodox, Greek Catholic or Syriac Catholic. With his lineage reasonably assumed to be traced in the Holy Land for millennia, Greek Orthodox Father Gabriel Nadaf hailed the announcement.
The overtly patriotic Nazorean priest has often advocated non-Jewish citizens of Israel to integrate into Israeli society as a whole. As Father Nadaf penned on social media, the government action “corrects a historic injustice that wrongly defined Israel’s citizens of eastern-Christian descent as ‘Christian Arabs,’ although other than their spoken language, they have absolutely no connection to the Arab nationality.”
Father Nadaf has also gone as far as appeal to his fellow Eastern Christians to enlist in the Israeli Army. Proverbially putting his money where his mouth is, Father Nadaf’s own son joined the Israeli Army, only to be brutally beaten prior to attending recruit training. At least one member of the anti-Israel Hadash political party was arrested in connection with the attack. Nonetheless, Father Nadaf’s efforts have borne fruit. As reported by the Catholic News Service earlier this year:
‘You are not going to shoot,’ said Father Nadaf, the spiritual leader of the year-and-a-half-old Israeli Christian Recruitment Forum, whose 18-year-old son, Jubran, was among the new recruits. Father Nadaf reminded them of the fate of Syrian Christians, some of whom have been kidnapped and killed.
‘You are going to protect. You do not go to attack but to defend. The Messiah said not to kill, he did not say don’t defend. We have to defend our Holy Land,’ the priest said. The young men represent an increasing number of young Israeli Christians who are deciding to voluntarily join the Israeli military, explained Capt. Shadi Haloul, 38, the forum’s spokesman, a Maronite Catholic and reservist in the Israeli Defense Forces.