NAZARETH — Christians in Israel enjoyed a temporary euphoria with the high-profile visit of Pope Francis in May. However, despite the wide interest of the papal visit, life has returned quickly back to normal. The suspected arson attacks on the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem and the Dormition Abbey in Jerusalem a day after the pope headed back to Rome marked a sharp end to the joyous episode.
In the last few months, Christians in Israel — especially the Arab Christians who make up 80% of the dwindling 2% of Christians in the country — have felt targeted. But the initiative that has caught the attention of the media is the major push to encourage young Arab Christians to volunteer in the Israeli military.