Israeli Druze, full citizens?

There exists a small minority in this country, they have a secretive religion, they speak Hebrew as well as Arabic, they are warriors, and builders of their host country; they are the Druze.

However there are two distinct groups of Druze, there are those who have accepted the State of Israel since its inception and have fought and died for Israel. And then there are those for whom Israel was forced upon them, mainly the Druze of Majdal Shams in the Golan region, when Israel conquered that territory in June of 1967. The latter group historically has been opposed to the State of Israel and has supported Bashar Assad of Syria. They were offered citizenship but it was only until very recently that the younger generation have accepted the blue Israeli ID cards, not out of loyalty like their fellow co-religionist but because they have realized that life in Israel is much better than death in Syria.

Druze are citizens of Israel, they fight for Israel, and they are in the Israeli parliament. Seemingly they are on par with the Israeli Jewish population, yet Jews all over the world can count on Israel and Druze cannot. The Jewish state is a safe haven for Jews everywhere. The original point of the state, be it in Uganda or in the Middle East was to be a “Miklat” a shelter for Jews everywhere in the world, whether they be J-Street supporters or BDS supporters, Israel can be the home for every Jew.


It was recently reported that the IDF is in the process of disbanding certain army units specifically designated for the Druze. The reasoning behind this is to better integrate the Druze into Israeli society. What better way to show the Druze that Israel is a democracy that protects its citizens and cares for them equally than intervening in Druze towns that are being threatened by enemy forces? Some of the Druze wish for Bashar Assad to win in the Syrian civil war because it will bring stability and protection to their people. There is no certainty in the Middle East and Druze don’t know what to do in order to guarantee their survival in Syria.

The Israeli experiment has been such a success that we even export our natural resources, our citizens throughout the world to help countries in need, to help poor African countries to rebuild their infrastructure like in Haiti and Nepal. Syrian rebels even know to cross the border into Israel, their sworn enemy, in order to receive medical attention and lifesaving procedures. Yet Israel does not concern itself with the Druze issues. To be fair this is a very complicated issue. It is not so simple for Israel, to intervene on soverign soil
The problems that are unique to Israel would be that if they were to do anything of substance to protect the Druze population of Syria, they have two options; one option would to actually put boots on the ground and actually guard Druze towns. This would lead to an occupation on Syrian soil that would require immense efforts on the IDF and state to regularly support ground forces plus this could lead to an accusation of hostile intent of Israel; which could lead to another war. Even if such an act would not lead to this, as soon as the war were to end no matter which side were to win, Israel would be responsible for those Druze in Syria. It would not be a realistic possibility to leave occupation forces in Syria indefinably to ensure that a regime would arise that would guarantee the Druze protection even after IDF influence, it would lead to another South Lebanese Army abandonment issue.

The second option would to open up the northern border to allow Druze to come to Israel. The problem is that once the borders were to open, hundreds of thousands of Syrian Arabs from all over Syria would try to enter especially the Palestinian Syrians that are stuck on the border of Jordan because the Hashemite kingdom still bars there access to Jordan. It would be a PR nightmare, to allow a minority while denying other people for seeking refuge. Already Israel is handling the African asylum seeker problem poorly. Another issue is that if somehow Israel would allow only Druze to enter Israel can it be assured that these Druze would fully integrate into Israel or would they ally themselves with Druze from Majdal Shams that are anti-Israel?
This seems to be a no win situation, of course UN peace keeping forces could intervene but the world has already seen that this is a wasted force for they abandoned their post on the Syrian Israel border that they were charged to protect, once fighting reached near them.

So what is left to do?

Israel must revisit its Law of Return to include minority groups that share their fate with the Jewish people. This will allow Israel to include the Druze into society and create a new Zionist minority that will be loyal to the state without allowing any other minorities to infiltrate into Israel that would wish to cause it harm. Once Israel accepts this new minority and treats them equally like Jewish Israelis the new Druze most likely will fully integrate into society like their other co-religionist. And if the Druze would want to return to their original land then Israel would have a foothold within a neighboring (possibly enemy) state that would provide invaluable intelligence and safety on one of Israel’s border.

About the Author
Born outside of Israel, Baruch has since created his life and home in Israel.
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