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Gvat Hazeakot, on the border with Syria. Golan Heights Druze and Syrians come here to scream across the fence to eachother


Muadded, restauarant owner in Majdal Shams, who does not want Al-Queda


Bassam, a pro-Assad Druze in Majdal Shams
phtoo by Rhonda Spivak


Two Druze men-the one with the white apron is pro-Assad. The other is the "opposition"
photo by Rhonda Spivak

 

Majdal Shams in Golan Heights

Special Report from the Golan Heights: The Syrian Druze in Majdal Shams who voted for Bibi Netanyahu

Rhonda Spivak, Jan 22, 2012

In Majdal Shams, a Druze village of about 10,000 people in the Golan Heights , I met a middle aged man, Rabah, standing on the corner of the street at the centre of the village who quietly told me that he will be voting for "Bibi" in the current Israeli elections.

When the Golan Heights, which was captured by Israel in the 1967 war from Syria, was officially annexed to Israel in 1981, the Druze of the Majdal Shams village could take out Israeli citizenship. The vast majority haven't done so, remaining loyal to Syria , but with Syria ablaze in fighting, there have been reports that dozens more young Druze have been taking out Israeli citizenship.

I asked Rabah, how many Druze there are like him, and he answers that he doesn't no. "But whoever has taken Israeli citizenship will be voting for Bibi."


Why I ask? "Because we want quiet ("sheket"). It's been good for us here, and we want to stay in Israel. We don't want to be go back to Syria." Rabah, not surprisingly, declines to be photographed.  There are no Israeli election signs in Majdal Shams, which sits at the foot of Mount Hermon.

 

Rabah tells me his family in Syria is supporting Assad. "As Druze, they are afraid of what will be if the Moslems take over Syria. They are allied with Assad."


A shopkeeper standing near Rabah, with light blue eyes tells me "I am a Syrian. I do not want to be Israeli. Ninety percent of the village here doesn't want Israeli citizenship. If I took out Israeli citizenship I could end up having to fight against my brothers, my family in Syria." He says he sees his family in Syria when they meet in Jordan. "I can't go from Jordan to Syria," he says.

 

Across the street at a restaurant, a 30 something year old Druze man who is waiting on the tables says that he thinks there are only 50 Druze in the whole village of Majdal Shams that have taken out Israeli citizenship. But a customer Bassam, says that Muadded is wrong. "There are more.  About 150."

 

As he gives this number of 150, I am thinking that the accurate  numbers are not necessarily known in the community, as many Druze would not want to have their neighbors know if they have taken out Israeli citizenship.

 

Muadded says he wants Majdal Shams to be in Syria but he also wants peace with Israel. "I want peace. I don't want hatred between people."

 

His family is pro-Assad. "Assad will not fall," he says with confidence. "He will stay one more term until there can be democratic reform and then the people can choose a new leader."

 

At times from Majdal Shams, we can hear the war goignn on there. But usually it's quiet."

 

Muadded adds that his family is pro-Assad because "They are defending the state. They don't want extremists taking over. They don't want Al Queda taking over. "

 

Bassam, who is drinking coffee, defines himself as "A Syrian under [Israeli] occupation," and will never take out Israeli citizenship. "I don't feel I belong in Israel," he says.

 

Bassam is a staunch defender of Assad. "Here in the village there are 30 people who protest against Assad every Friday. They will be in Kunneitra at 4:30 today; you can go and see them. Aside from those 30 people, everyone else here supports Assad. And I think those people are paid to protest."

 

"Only 30 people in the whole village oppose Assad?," I say, wondering about the veracity of Bassam's description. "Yes, and I won't speak to any of them," he replies.

 

When I suggest

 
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