Wednesday, November 1, 2006

The Druze in the IDF

One subject that gets consistently ignored is the topic of the Druze in Israel. This is especially significant in light of a victory of the Druze Herev Batillion during the recent war in Lebanon. Twenty Hizballah fighters were killed, and no Druze were killed. (source) In fact, other than (obviously) the Jews, only the Druze (an ethnicity that rhymes with the Jews!) have compulsory military service in Israel. NOTE: The Druze REQUESTED this in 1956. The following article goes through the history of the Druze in Israel, and advocates two proposals:
1) The disagreement between opponents and supporters of compulsory military service will continue to occasionally arise. We must honor the freedom of speech and thought of those who hold opinions we oppose. However, in order to conclude the disagreement, we do not need conferences in foreign capitals. We should hold a referendum among the Druze population in Israel. If the number of opponents of compulsory service is greater that the number of supporters, then we need to begin to think about its cancellation. And if the opposite is true, we need to end the disagreement and the minority should accept the will of the majority. This is the way that a democratic, pluralistic, and liberal society should act. 2) The Druze in the state lack resources. They do not have capital or media. Their percentage in the overall population is small and thus their electoral influence is practically not felt. In addition, the one or two Druze Knesset members are not necessarily Druze representatives but rather representatives of a certain political party. Often they are not devoted to Druze concerns but rather to their own, and the Druze are left without representation. Therefore, the government of Israel as well as the relevant institutions should initiate projects among the Druze for the advancement of academic education, society, infrastructure, industry, and the like, within the framework of affirmative action, for a period of ten years. Such a policy is necessary in order to develop the Druze villages and the young Druze leadership who will bear the burden of the Druze community and the nation. Of course this would include employment of Druze in key positions throughout public service, since the Druze have expertise not only in matters of security and the army. On the other hand, Jewish organizations, especially in the United States and in the Western world, should adopt the Druze community in Israel. The diaspora Jewish agenda should include all Israeli citizens in their annual agenda, and especially those who give their blood for their state and who contribute to the stability of relations between the Arab minority and the Jewish majority in Israel. In this way, the obligation is not just on the government of Israel but also on world Jewry. The government of Israel and diaspora Jewry are requested to reward the Druze for their contribution and to initiate an improvement in their situation and standing. Whoever serves in the security services and fulfills his military obligations should receive full rights and rewards, especially if he is numbered among the minorities within the state.
I agree with this wholeheartedly. I support the Druze and see them as a discriminated against minority who do unfortunately face de facto (not de jure) discrimination in Israel. (that said, life in Israel is a billion times better for them than in Lebanon or Syria) More should be done to reach out to the Druze community. I hope this is done in the future.


Revolutionary Blogger said...

Druze are for the most part racially Arabs. Are you encouraging Israel to reach out to Arabs?


Red Tulips said...

Revolutionary Blogger:

Many Jews are also 'racially Arab' as well. I am not exactly sure what you mean by 'Arab' when you say this.

I am encouraging Jews to reach out specifically to the Druze more, a community of people who have aligned interests and who are peaceful and pro-Israel. However, because they are not Jewish, some Israelis have discriminated against them. (in the same way that black people are discriminated against in the US) I think that's wrong. It is illegal, but it still happens. That said, obviously life for the Druze in Israel is a billion times better than anywhere else in the Middle East.

Thomas Forsyth said...

I always wondered about the racially Arab part as I met someone who was Lebanese and a Shi'ite Muslim and he claimed to be Phoenecian. In fact, he disliked Arabs greatly, from his comments.

I do admit that the Druze have invested much into Israel and deserve a better retrun. I do admit that the Druze have it better in Israel than anywhere esle, except the US. Kamal Amin Kasem (Casey Kasem) is probably the best known Druze in popular culture.