A Greek Orthodox priest from Israel defended the Jewish state before the UN Human Rights Council on Tuesday, arguing that it is the only country in the Middle East where Christians are not persecuted, and imploring the 47 member nations to “end your witch hunt of 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 Naddaf said.
“It is Israel, the Jewish state. Israel is the only place where Christians in the Middle East are safe.”
According to Naddaf, some 120,000 Christians have been killed each year in the Middle East for the last decade. “That means that every five minutes a Christian is killed because of his faith,” he said. “Those who can escape persecution at the hands of Muslim extremists have fled. Those who remain, exist as second- if not third-class citizens to their Muslim rulers.”
Naddaf, who heads the Greek Orthodox Church in Yafia near Nazareth, maintained 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.
“Leaders of people, seekers of peace, end your witch hunt of the only free country in the region,” he added.
Naddaf was brought to Geneva to testify on the plight of Christian minorities by The Face of Israel, a public diplomacy organization that’s affiliated with the Foreign Ministry.
Naddaf has become a controversial figure in Israel since joining the Forum for Drafting the Christian Community in October 2012 and for openly calling on Israel Christians to serve in the IDF. His activities have drawn criticism from Arab MKs as well as threats against his family.
In December 2013, his son was assaulted and hospitalized because of his father’s views.
Naddaf was asked by the Forum to serve as a spiritual guide, along with two other clerics. But the other two dropped out following a campaign of intimidation, leaving Naddaf alone at the helm.
Stuart Winer contributed to this report.