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photo of Moshav Korazim with the Golan Heights in the background
photo by Rhonda Spivak

Kinneret and Golan heights in the background
photo by Rhonda Spvak

A Point to Make at IAW: Number of Golan Heights Druze seeking Israeli citizenship is on the Rise

Many young Druze now consider their best option is to become Israeli

by Rhonda Spivak, October 23, 2012

Something interesting has been happening in the Golan Heights  in the last few months which pro-Israel advocates on campus ought to point ought when detracters launch Israel Apartheid Week on campuses throughout North America, as they no doubt will in March 2013.  

Afer more than a year and a half of  the raging civil war in Syria, Druze residents of the Golan Heights, which was captured by Israel in the 1967 Six day War, are flocking to the Israeli Interior Ministry by the dozens to request Israeli citizenship.

This trend currently going on in the Golan, which was captured by Israel in the 1967 Six day War, has been reported in the Times of Israel and Ma'ariv.

Israeli law was extended to the Golan Heightsin 1981 but up until recently of the 20,000 Druze residing in the main villages of Majdal Shams, Mas’ade, Buq’ata, and Ein Qiniyye, only a few hundred have accepted Israeli citizenship. Traditionally,Druze have openly sworn allegiance to Syria and as such very few requested Israeli citizenship.

However,  according to Israeli government statistics provided by Israel's Population, Immigration, and Border Administration, cited by the Hebrew newspaper Ma'ariv, in recent months, citizenship requests from Golan Height's Druze "have spiked several hundredfold."

As the Times of Israel reports "most of the recent applications have been filed by Druze youths, "whose connection to Syria is generations distant, and whose perception of it has been marred by the bloody civil war."

Young Druze are coming to the conclusion that they would rather be citizens of Israel than Syria- a country which kills its citizens, and where ongoing upheaval and instability is likely to continue for the forseable future. . Like Bashar Assad’s Alawites, the Druze are an empowered minority in Syria that are protected by the Assad regime.However, in the event that Assad falls (as appears more likely with the passage of time) this develpoment may not al all be positive for  the Golan Heights Druze.

“Now the [Golan Heights Druze] residents internalize that the Assad regime will not last long, and understand that there is no longer any cause for them to return to Syria,” one Buq’ata resident told Ma'ariv.

“I believe this trend will only increase,” a Mas’ade resident who holds Israeli citizenship told Ma'ariv. “More and more people comprehend that this [Israel] is a well-managed country and it’s possible to live and raise children here. It is preferable to turning into refugees in another country.”

“In Syria there is mass murder, and if [the Druze are] under Syrian control they would likely be turned into the victims of these atrocities. People see murdered children and refugees fleeing to Jordan and Turkey, lacking everything, and ask themselves: Where do I want to raise my children. The answer is clear — in Israel and not Syria.”

Thus, if this trend continues, it will become increasingly clear that Israel ought not to be viewed as an "occupier" of the Golan Heights, when in fact more and more Druze of the area do not wish to be re-occupied by Syria, [or whatever comes after when Assad is deposed.]

Supporters of IAW no doubt will favour a  boycott of  Israeli settlement pruducts produced over the 1967 Green line.  But this position is at odds with the emerging reality on the ground which is that more and more the Golan Heights Druze want to be part of Israel, such that it becomes difficult to come up with a reason [let alone a compelling reason] to boycott goods produced by Jewish communities in the Golan.

Historically, Druze have been persecuted by Muslim rulers in Syria and Lebanon — both Shiite and Sunni — since the religion’s inception in the 11th century.ones. The philosophy of the faith has generally been to display loyalty to the nation in which they live. Many Israeli Druze — those who do not live in the Golan — serve in the Israel Defense Forces.




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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.