The National Resilience Survey, whose results were published on Ynet Wednesday and will be presented at a Herzliya convention next week, has revealed that patriotism in the Druze community is quickly waning.
The survey, in which respondents were asked to rank their patriotism on a scale of 1-6, revealed that while the Druze are still decidedly more patriotic than their Arab counterparts, their “love for” and “pride in “ the State of Israel has declined noticeably since last year.
MK Said Naffaa (Balad) attributes this growing rift between Israel and the Druze community to the marked discrimination and prejudice that Druze resident perpetually faced, as evidenced in the extreme by riots in the Druze village of Peki’in in late October.
“Israel had always viewed the Druze as some type of domesticated beast, but now this previously docile animal is fighting back,” said Naffaa.
Alluding to the historic alliance between Israel and the Druze, who serve in the IDF and contribute to the state in a wealth of other respects, Naffa noted that “we (the Druze) had hoped that serving in the military would afford us equal rights to those of other Israelis. We soon, however, discovered that this is mere illusion when we awoke to a very harsh reality.”
MK Naffaa did not serve in the IDF, which at the time an anomaly in the Druze community. These days, however, opting not to serve in the arm is becoming more of a legitimate choice among Druze youth. “This is the result of an awakening of nationalistic feelings among the Druze. The youths of today are educated and are more aware of where their allegiances truly lie,” said Naffa.
The Druze MK also pointed out that the dwindling numbers of Druze youths in the IDF is a direct product of the overt discrimination and prejudice that the Druze continually encounters. “Discrimination echoes at every corner,” noted Naffaa. “For instance, only 26% of Druze high-school graduates take their matriculation exams, as compared to 59% of Jews and 43% of Arabs.”
Naffaa was recently questioned by police after returning from a visit to Syria, on suspicion that he met with an enemy. Several other Druze clerics were also questioned by police.
“Visiting Syria is our basic human right. Why doesn’t the International Investigation Division question Iranian Jews who visit their homeland?” said Naffaa, adding that “Israeli authorities are wary of our efforts to renew historical ties to our families for a variety of political reasons. They had assumed that they had ‘domesticated’ the Druze, but now this docile beat is fighting back.”
Far from the final showdownReferencing the recent riots in the Druze village of Peki’in, Naffaa stated that “Instead of waking up and changing things, Israel continues to discriminate against the Druze, and if things don’t change the victim will lash out severely I warn you that the riots in Peki’in will not be the last unless something is done,” he said.
Following the Peki’in riots, MKs, government ministers, and Druze dignitaries attended a briefing last month investigating goings on within the Druze community.
Environment Minister Gideon Ezra, who attended the briefing, was surprised by its findings, mainly in respect to shifting Druze loyalties. “When I was in the Shin Bet I thought that Naffaa was in the minority, but now I realize that all (Druze) are like Naffa,” he said.
“Where as in the past most Druze would vote for Jewish, Zionist parties, now many Druze are voting for Arab Parties,” Ezra added.
“(Druze) people are beginning to realize that we are first and foremost Arabs, and we are entitled to equal right by virtue of being Israeli citizens and not only because we serve in the IDF,” Naffa concluded.