Sitting in front of the family Christmas tree dressed in military fatigues, Amir Shalayan seemed in no doubt about his identity.
“When you go back back in religion, I consider myself a real Jew,” he said, unabashed by the non-Jewish festive decorations in his living room. “Jesus was Jewish and he was observing the Shabbat (Jewish sabbath).”
Mr Shalayan is in fact an Arab Christian, a category he refers to as “Aramean”, but his strong identification with the Jewish faith is offered as explanation for his keen army service. It also accounts for his vocal support of legislation that envisages officially declaring Israel a Jewish state - despite the presence within its borders of around 1.7 million Arabs, including 161,000 Christians, more than 20 per cent of the population.