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Rafik Halabi
Settlers, have you no shame?
Op-ed: Druze soldiers don’t deserve to face wrath of settlers over building freeze

Border Guard soldiers and liaison officials are sustaining more and more curses from the settlers over enforcement of the construction freeze order. A new leaflet distributed by the settlers accused Arab IDF soldiers of safeguarding the Palestinians. This, beyond being outrageous, reflects a racist, thuggish thinking and denies the possibility of civil equality in the Jewish state.

 

I always believed there is a contradiction between a nation-state and a democratic state if the dominant national component happens to be religion. This is the case in Iran, Pakistan, and also in the land of the settlers. Druze soldiers perform hard work bordering on the impossible, just like their Jewish comrades, while being cursed by both by the Palestinians, who accuse them of being traitors, and by the settlers, who tell them they should be put on a train and sent away.

 

These racists do not know that the IDF delegation to the death camps this year was headed by Brigadier General Mufid Ganem, and that one of the delegation members was Wajia Nasraldin, whose son Lutfi was the first casualty of Operation Cast Lead.

 

The nationalistic madness makes these settlers lose their mind. Police Major General Hussein Fares recounted how he was cursed during the disengagement operation, and how Druze officers in the liaison units face daily humiliation.

 

Seemingly, Druze soldiers should not be complaining, because this is how these “nutcases” treat Jewish soldiers too. Those who cut off olive trees, burn the fields of villagers, hurt children, and sow hatred do not understand the value of the land and are unworthy of settling it. Those who did not read the story of Kristallnacht cannot understand they are behaving like the German racists did.

 

Deep identity crisis

The Druze in Israel are not mercenaries – they perform mandatory military service in all units, including the most elite and secretive ones. Yet Druze youths currently face a deep identity crisis: Only few would define their identity as “Arab Palestinian,” despite their mother tongue, customs, and religion. Many lost their Arabic language and speak a language that is replete with Hebrew, and many others have already rejected their national identity. In their view, their Israeliness is beyond any doubt.

 

The Druze sector never launched a strike, even when its lands were “robbed.” Meanwhile, more than half Druze households make their livelihood via a salary or benefits of the defense establishment. Yet settlers like the ones who target the Druze merely boost the frustration and feeling that “now that the Druze did the dirty work there’s no need for them,” thereby boosting the identity crisis.

 

I do not accept the attitude that the settlers in question are just “bad weeds.” There is a whole field of them by now. I’m unwilling to accept that settler leaders cannot restrain them, and I don’t understand why IDF commanders merely whine instead of restraining these thugs.

 

The Jews in Israel cannot use terms like “brothers in arms” or “blood pact” only on memorial days. They cannot cry out every morning: “We have a Jewish and democratic state.” A democratic state must defend itself from those who aim to sow the seeds of fascism, because there is no Jewish state that isn’t democratic. A fascist state or district cannot be Jewish.

 

This is not the place to cry out over civilian injustice, discrimination, and government arrogance in respect to Druze land. Right now I’m only voicing the pain of the soldiers who perform their mandatory service. The percentage of Druze soldiers is greater than that of Jewish soldiers, while many of the settlers (and certainly the ultra-Orthodox) only carry arms to guard their homes, and in quite a few cases to exact revenge and hurt their neighbors. A little shame would do them good.

 

Rafik Halabi is a journalist

 

 


First published: 07.12.10, 11:02
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