About 145,000 members of the Druze community currently live in Israel and today (21.7) the unique and intriguing community went through an event that is no less groundbreaking in its life, with its gathering for the first time since the establishment of the Druze Heritage Conference. The conference, which miraculously captures the work and heritage of the Druze community in Israel, was supposed to take place at the Hof Hatamarim Hotel in Acre, but took a sharp turn in the face of the corona crisis and was held through the “Zoom” app with Knesset members, heads of authorities and Druze community leaders. Watch the video at the top of the article with a collection of speeches by President Reuven (Ruby) Rivlin; Danny Atar, Chairman of the JNF; Ministers Hili Trooper and Miri Regev; Chairman of the Jewish Agency, Yitzhak Herzog; Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi.
This year, the conference dealt with two main issues: the development of the Druze communities in Israel – vision, ongoing problems and barriers, as well as the challenges of the Druze young men and women in Israel. As part of the conference, a prestigious award, the “Vision Award”, was distributed to the 5 members of the community who actually promoted the community and Israeli society. Among others, they received the award, the outgoing carpenter, Brigadier General Dr. Triff Bader, who led the IDF to minimize infections in Corona, and introduced a variety of innovative technological developments to the medical corps, Dr. Assad Araida, chairman of the Friends of the Children’s Village Hurfish Association. And Madian Abu Issa, director of the Hurfish Children’s Village, for promoting education in the Druze community.
Since the beginning of the last century and the beginning of the organization of the Zionist movement for the establishment of the State of Israel, there have been Druze who integrated the idea and activities to realize it. This intensified during the 1930s and 1940s, the period of the Arab Revolt, a period characterized by brutal and brutal attacks by Arab rebels against the Druze settlements in Carmel and the Galilee, and a kind of alliance was formed between the Jewish and Druze fighters.
Towards the establishment of the state, in 1947 a unit of Druze fighters arrived from Syria that was recruited specifically to assist the Arab rebels and indeed there were battles between them and the Jewish fighters but later and with the help of Druze leaders who were in Carmel and Galilee at the time, the unit disbanded. Some of its people returned to Syria and some joined the defense and fought alongside it and joined the IDF when it was first established voluntarily and in 1956 a conscription law was enacted for members of the Druze community and they are deployed in all IDF units in senior and sensitive positions. The Druze community has lost from the establishment of the state to the present day about 537 fighters who fell while defending the State of Israel.
Challenge panel for Druze young men and women in Israel. Watch
“The Druze youth, the future generation of the community, experience challenges unique to them only as young people in the State of Israel,” says Adv. Mahmoud Shenan, director general of the Druze Heritage Center in Israel, referring to the conference discussions. “One of these concerns the issue of equal opportunities. It is known that the country has affirmative action against minorities but the Druze young people do not want it. They are simply interested in social and employment equality in the private and public sector. We also discussed the development of the Druze community and dealt with the housing options and expansion of the Druze communities in light of the natural growth of the community. ”
The Druze Heritage Conference is the most prominent work of the Druze Heritage Center in Israel, a new government corporation run by Adv. Shenan. The second and no less important product is the establishment of a research institute for the Druze community, the first institute of its kind in Israel and around the world. The institute was established by virtue of the Druze Heritage Center Law (2007) initiated by former Knesset member Jelly Wehbe and currently one of its essential activities is the establishment of the Druze-Pedia. “A comprehensive online knowledge base about the community’s heritage and customs,” says Shenan.
JNF Chairman Danny Atar noted at the conference today that the bloody alliance with the Druze commits us to a long-term strategic plan that will provide solutions to years of adversity. “I hope we can provide solutions to at least some of the Druze’s problems through the Israel 2040 plan. In the reality we live in and the way the Druze serve the State of Israel, the gaps should not have existed, and we are doing everything we can to reduce the gaps. Our success will only be with a cooperating Israeli government. And combines its forces. ”
The Druze community is considered a community with a rich history and great influence on the peoples of the Middle East. It originated as a faction in Shiite Islam that emerged in Egypt in the early 11th century and at its center was the figure of al-Hakam Bamer Allah the Sixth Caliph of the Fatimid dynasty. According to the Druze tradition which was influenced by Greek philosophy al-Hakam was the embodiment of the divine spirit. The Druze are also called “Bnei Maruf” and “Almwahdon -” members of the faith of uniqueness “and since 1043 the door has been closed to new believers and in order to be a Druze you must be born to a Druze mother and father.
From the very beginning, believers in the Druze religion in Egypt were cruelly persecuted by the Caliph al-Daher, which forced its believers to migrate north, mainly toward Lebanon and Syria. As early as the 11th century, close to the formation of the community, there were Druze settlements in the Galilee, as its first center was in Wadi a-Tim, and from there it began to spread south. Since the 13th century, information has also been accumulating about Druze villages in the vicinity of the Jermak. In the late 17th century, Druze families began migrating to Huran, Syria. At that time, Druze also came to Huran from around Aleppo, fleeing the pressure of their Muslim neighbors. At the end of the 18th century, the Horan served as a refuge for Druze families, the last stage in this process took place in the wake of the bloody events of 1840-1860, which blocked the Druze control of Mount Lebanon. In the area of Mount Horan (Jabal Eldruz) today the Druze make up over 85% of the population.
At the beginning of the French rule, the status of the Druze strengthened and on April 5, 1921, the independence of Jabal Eldruz was declared an autonomous region, but over time frictions arose, which led to the “1925 uprising”, during which the Druze managed to maintain the mountain’s special status. In the mountain area live many families, who originated from Israel. They emigrated there in the distant past, to escape conscription into the Ottoman army and Druze families known as “Tzafdi” make up about 20% of the residents of Jabal ad-Druze, testifying that many Druze who immigrated from the Galilee area in the Galilee to the mountain in southern Syria.
The name “Halabi” is also common, especially in Dalit al-Carmel, where the Halabi family is the largest. Immigrants also came to Israel from Lebanon at various times and settled there. In Isfiya, there is a tradition according to which the settlement was founded by families originating in Lebanon. The Druze localities have been established over the years in the highlands, among other things for protection purposes, and to this day all the Druze localities are located in the highlands of the Carmel, Galilee and Golan Heights.
How is it that to this day there is no comprehensive knowledge base on the community?
“The Druze religion is a secret religion and over the years the community has been afraid to document themselves for fear of revealing religious secrets, so there is no existing knowledge base. The Druze-Pedia aims to preserve materials on the community’s rich history and to be a research institute for academics studying minorities in the Middle East. “We focus on checking the truth of the content that will be uploaded on the special site. Currently, Druze-Pedia already has 10 entries, with the aim of uploading a number of new entries each month in categories such as holidays, customs, heritage stories and more.”
How many Druze live in the world?
“About 2 million people. Apart from Israel, where close to 145,000 people live, there is a community of about 800,000 people in Syria, about 600,000 more people in Lebanon, about 20,000 in Jordan and other communities in the Diaspora, such as Venezuela. The community in Israel “It is considered the strongest and safest of all, and I am happy that the center established in Israel will be a common heritage center for all the Druze in the world. We are in contact and cooperation as much as possible with all our relatives in the various countries.”
In collaboration with the Druze Heritage Conference