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November 22, 1985 - Image 108

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1985-11-22

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Friday, November 22, 1985 THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS


Israeli Druze Remain
Loyal To Their Country

Special to The Jewish News

Remember the
1 lth Commandment:

"And Thou
Shalt be

You've read the
five books of
Moses. Isn't it
time to try the
Fifty-Two Issues
of the Detroit
Jewish News? It
may not be
holy, but it's
weekly! And
such a bargain.
To order your
own subscription

call 354-6060.

Despite conflicts of interest
over Lebanon and the Golan
Heights, the relationship be-
tween Israel's Jewish majority
and its Druze minority remains
essentially harmonious. Indeed
most. Israeli Druze are proud
patriots and the Israel flag is
flown more conspicuously in
Druze villages than in Jewish
There are an estimated 80,000
Druze living in Israel. Of these
some 65,000 live in 18 villages
throughout the Galilee and on
Mount Carmel, while a further
15,000 inhabit the slopes of the
Golan Heights. The Druze are
the followers of a religious sect
which split from Islam in the
11th century to follow the teach-
ings of the sixth Caliph of the
Isma'ili Fatimid dynasty. The
fundamental tenets of the reli-
gion remain secret even to the
Druze themselves — only the
community's feligious elders are
party to these secrets. Today
there are close to 1.1 million
Druze around the world with
most living in Syria (500,000)
and Lebanon (500,000).
At the specific request of their
community leaders, Israel's
Druze have undertaken compul-
sory service in the Israel De-
fense Forces since 1957, al-
though even before that many
Druze fought voluntarily in the
army and in the pre-state
Haganah. In total 180 Israeli
Druze have fallen while serving
in the IDF — a fataity rate that
is proportionately higher than
in the Jewish sector of Israeli
Like Jews in the Diaspora,
and other minorities all over the
world, Israel's Druze are often
more patriotic than the coun-
try's Jewish majority. Majeid
Houosseissi is Principal of a
school in Daliyat al-Carmel, Is-
rael's largest Druze village,
which has a population of
12,000. Housseissi, who is a
member of the management
executive of the Druze Zionist
club, paints an idyllic picture of
current Druze-Jewish relations,
sidestepping any suggestons
that recent events have pro-
duced strains. "It is true that a
few Druze soldiers refused to
serve in Lebanon," he says, "be-
cause they did not want to come
into conflict with their cousin in
Lebanon. But the Jews, too, had
conscientious objectors who re-
fused to serve in Lebanon.

"Most Druze living in the
Golan Heights (which was an-
nexed in 1982) would be happy
to become Israeli citizens. The
problem is they have to pretend
that they are opposed to Israel.
After all, if Israel ever returned
the Golan Heights and they had
shown themselves to be too pro-
Israel, many Druze could be
hanging in the center of Damas-
cus. Besides, many Golan Druze
have cousins still living in
Rafik Halaby, a Druze news
director for Israel television,
takes a less conciliatory line
towards Israeli policies. He feels

that Israeli Druze were confused
and upset because the IDF
backed the Phalangists rather
than the Druze in their confron-
tation in the Lebanon's Shouf
Mountains. Halaby is also dis-
satisfied with domestic matters:
"The Druze are like Arabs as far
as their rights are concerned
and Jews as regards their
duties," he claims. "If you exam-
ine municipal budgets for Druze
villages and those for Jewish
towns, you will see the budgets
are not comparable. If you look
at the condition of schoolhouses
in Druze villages, you will see
the extent of the discrimina-
tion." Nevertheless, Halaby as-

Indeed, most Israeli
Druze are proud
patriots and the
Israeli flag is flown
more conspicuously
in Druze villages
than in Jewish

serts that Israel's Druze will
fight against these injustices
within the country's democratic
Jaber Abu Rukun, manager of
the library in Usfiya on Mount
Carmel, says that his views lie
between Halaby's and Housseis-
si's. "It is true that we Druze
suffer from a lack of investment
in industry and social and edu-
cational services in many of our
villages," he says. "It is our
right to have these services im-
proved. But perhaps we should
better learn how to shout and
use our democratic freedom of
speech to obtain a larger budget
for our villages." Abu Rukun in-
sists that events in Lebanon
have not damaged Druze-Jewish
relations in Israel.
Certainly there seems to be no
disillusionment from the out-
side. To the Western visitor a
Druze village probably seems
like any other Arab village in
the region. A rustic, rural way
of life that seemingly defies the
passage of time. But beneath
the surface lies a fierce loyalty
to the Jewish State combined
with a proud determination to
preserve their heritage. The
Druze have been able to synthe-
size their traditions with mod-
ern ideologies and technologies
with a harmony that is unusual
in the Middle East.
The bond between Israel's
Jewish majority and Druze
minority seems a strong one —
one cemented by mutual respect.
Knesset member Ziadan Atashe
of the Shinui Party likens the
solidarity of the Druze with that
of the Jews: "I compare myself
with Jews in the rest of the
world. Wherever Jews are in
stress, other Jews raise public
awareness and come to their
aid. So it is with us."

World Zionist Press Service

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