Druze – The less known People Of Israel

The Druze are a religious minority living in villages in northern Israel. Not so famous and known from people outside of the Middle East. Usually, when I tell foreigners about the Druze of Israel they think I mean Druids of the Celtic people. So no Celts around here.

The Druze religion began in Egypt during the 11 century. It started as a sect in the Ismailiyah which is itself a sect in the Shia Islam. The scholars and preachers were affected by Greek philosophy and Gnosticism. The first preacher of the religion was Hamza Ibn Ali who starts spreading the new religion and was recognized by the governor as the Imam of the new religion in 1017.

Read more about the religion here. 

A Secret Religion

Why? Watch the video:

Loyalty To The Hosting Country

The Druzes were heavily persecuted during the years, as a result, they settled in remote mountain areas where they could defend themselves and practice their religion. In their belief, they can disguise their true religion and practice other religious acts to be seen from the outside as followers of the ruler religion to prevent persecution and harassment. The Druzes don’t hold a will to create a Druze state and pose a principle of being loyal to the country they are living in.

they are known to be very involved in their countries politics and security forces in a higher percentage than their percentage in their total population.

The Druze in Israel

In Israel, the Druze live in villages in the north of the country. Some of them are mixed villages with Muslims and Christian population, some are only Druzes villages. The relationships between the Jews and the Druze were generally good throughout history and when the clashes between the Arabs and the Jews started at the beginning of the 20th century, the Druzes remain neutral more or less. On one hand, they felt close to the Arabs by culture and language and feared of what will happen if the Arab will win, on the other hand, they were oppressed by the Arabs and were seen as Kufar or heretics.

With the establish of the state of Israel the Druzes declared their loyalty to the state and in 1957 were recognized as a distinct religious minority something they didn’t get in any other state (Usually they were seen as Muslims in other countries) and since that year they also drafted to the military as an obligatory service.

On the 2009 elections, the Druzes had 6 parliament members more than twice as their represented in the general population.
The biggest Druze village is Dalyat El Carmel not far from Haifa.

If you are in Haifa and want to visit the Druze you can go to Isfiya.

Traditional dancing in the IDF:

The Druze of the Golan Heights

With their principle of being loyal to the country which they live in. The Druzes of the Golan Heights are in a tricky position. The Druze in Syria were supporters of the Assad regime. After Israel captured the Golan height following talks and peace negotiations of giving it back to Syria, the Golan Druzes don’t want to be seen as traitors.

If they will declare loyalty to the state of Israel and then there will be a peace agreement between Israel and Syria and Israel will give back the Golan and they will be back under Syrian control they will be seen as traitors by the Syrians.
They chose not to have an Israeli citizenship and they don’t serve in the military like their brothers from the Galil. They keep in touch with other Druze villages in Syria and get special permits to visit there and keep marriage connections.

Since the civil war in Syria, their situation got even more complex. Officially they are still loyal to the Syrian regime but underground more and more young people apply for Israeli citizenship.

More Background:

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