In praise of Israel’s ties with the Druze

The chairman of the Ronson Israeli-Druze Centre on his recent talk at JW3

June 28, 2019 08:05

One of the major goals of the Ronson Israeli-Druze Centre is to consolidate the relationship between the Jewish and Druze communities.

Earlier this month, I was honoured to speak on “Jews and Druze: History, Today and Future” at JW3, where I described how the centre has set out a global campaign to promote our special ties.

I pointed out how Jewish and Druze communities have a common link that few members of the Jewish community are aware of: Jethro. Jethro was not only father-in-law and counsel to Moses, he was also the spiritual founder and the chief prophet of the Druze religion.

In fact, Jethro’s followers live on in countries in the Middle East, such as Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. Such are the ties between Jewish and Druze brothers in Israel.

Being at JW3 was also a wonderful opportunity share stories about the support that the Druze community has given to the Jewish Yishuv from the time of Mandatory Palestine.

Druze rejected calls to attack Jewish settlements during the 1920 Riots and the Great Arab Revolt of 1936. Soon after, Druze and Jewish soldiers fought shoulder to shoulder during the Independence War of 1948. They shed blood together and stood victorious together.

The imposition of compulsory conscription for young Druze men soon followed and the number of Druze serving in the IDF and other security forces swelled, to the point that Druze fought in every war and defended Israel in every conflict, including the more recent attacks along Gaza Strip.

I also spoke about the integration of Druze in Israel’s security apparatus and how service training, education and income meant Druze integration into the Israeli labour market.

The change I take greatest pride in is the educational revolution.

We have witnessed a once poorly educated community transform into one that celebrates 5,843 graduates from Israel’s universities and colleges.

It has resulted in 70 per cent of Druze academics being women when, remarkably, less than half a century ago, most Druze women were illiterate because of little or no formal education. A fact I am particularly proud of is that, in 2018, three of the top 10 ranking high schools in Israel were in Druze towns.

This paints the progress that this small community in Israel has made over the last seven decades in an extremely positive light, especially when faced with antisemitic and BDS activism that casts Israel as racist and discriminatory against its religious minorities.

The Centre supports Israel’s global efforts against the BDS movement. It already collaborates with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and with organisations such as AEN in their efforts, and promotes a common pro-Israel agenda across the globe.

I was delighted to be able to share some of the highlights of the Centre’s campaigning efforts over the last three years.

These efforts have spanned six US states, European countries such as France, Austria and venues such as the House of Commons and JW3.

I believe that the Ronson Israeli-Druze Centre has a crucial role to play in tomorrow’s multicultural Israel and I look forward to celebrating our achievements with Israel’s support.

Amir Khnifess is chairman of the Ronson Israeli-Druze Centre on the Carmel, in Haifa

June 28, 2019 08:05

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive