Golan Druze Dispatch

I’m at the home of Hasam in a small Druze town in Golan near the Syrian border.  Hasam is a Sheikh (A term signifying that he is a religious Druze, representing a small percentage of the overall community) and one of the roughly 10% of Druze of the Golan (out of a population of about 20,000) who accepted Israeli citizenship after Israel took control of the territory following the Six Day War.

Unlike Hasam, most Druze he knows in his community are afraid to take sides against the Syrian regime out of fear of retributions which may be taken against his co-religionists on the Syrian side of the border.

“There must be democracy in Syria”, he says firmly, but also expressed understanding for those who chose not to speak up, and indeed asked that we not use his surname.

When asked what media he trusts to report the uprisings in Syria he barely waited for the translation to conclude before answering Ynet.com – preferring the Israeli news site over Al-Jazeera or other Arab media.

Unlike Israeli Druze  in upper and western Galilee and Mt. Carmel (where most Israeli Druze reside), he considers himself a Syrian Druze and citizen of Israel (reflecting a quite complex religious-national identity), but Druze first and, feeling a strong connection with his religious community across the border, expressed fear of the possibility that Islamists, like the Muslim Brotherhood, may replace the current government, and, while feeling no love for Assad, seems to prefer the devil he knows from the devil he doesn’t.

Druze are, under the Allawite Ba’athist regime, no better off than other Syrians, but also no worse, and seem animated by a pragmatic caution about dramatic changes which may disrupt the precarious social equilibrium – representing a minority uniquely vulnerable to the political upheavals currently erupting in the region.

Druze flag on roof of Hasam's home
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