The Druze of the Golan Heights Are Reconciling Themselves with Israel

March 29 2016

Since the Six-Day War, most of the Druze living in the Golan Heights have declined to apply for Israeli citizenship or to serve in the IDF, most likely because they fear retaliation in the event the territory is returned to Syria. But now, writes Moshe Arens, that is starting to change:

Those visiting the Golan Heights these days will find [that the] Syrian flags are gone and Israeli flags are beginning to appear. Some 30 percent of the Druze residents of Majdal Shams have taken out Israeli citizenship, and the rest of the Druze villages seem to be following suit.

After many years of living in anticipation of the Golan Heights being turned over by Israel to Syria, the Golan Druze are settling down to the reality of staying in Israel. Watching from afar the bloodbath taking place in Syria these past four years, and anxious for the fate of their Druze brethren there, many consider themselves to be fortunate to be part of Israel. . . . An Israeli Golan Heights is beginning to be recognized as a permanent fixture of the Middle East.

Inevitably our thoughts turn back to the period sixteen years ago when Ehud Barak was a hair’s breadth—or more precisely a few meters—away from reaching an agreement with Hafez al-Assad that would have turned the Golan Heights over to Syria. And a few years earlier it was Yitzḥak Rabin who was prepared to make such a deal. . . . There may still be a few stubborn Israelis who think that would have been a good deal for Israel, but they are by now few and far between.

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Read more at Moshe Arens

More about: Druze, Ehud Barak, Golan Heights, Hafez al-Assad, Israel & Zionism, Syria, Yitzhak Rabin

 

Will Tensions Rise between the U.S. and Israel?

Unlike his past many predecessors, President Joe Biden does not have a plan for solving the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Moreover, his administration has indicated its skepticism about renewing the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. John Bolton nevertheless believes that there could be a collision between the new Benjamin Netanyahu-led Israeli government and the Biden White House:

In possibly his last term, Netanyahu’s top national-security priority will be ending, not simply managing, Iran’s threat. This is infinitely distant from Biden’s Iran policy, which venerates Barrack Obama’s inaugural address: “we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.”

Tehran’s fist is today otherwise occupied, pummeling its own people. Still, it will continue menacing Israel and America unless and until the internal resistance finds ways to fracture the senior levels of Iran’s regular military and the Revolutionary Guards. Netanyahu undoubtedly sees Iran’s growing domestic turmoil as an opportunity for regime change, which Israel and others can facilitate. Simultaneously, Jerusalem can be preparing its military and intelligence services to attack Tehran’s nuclear program, something the White House simply refuses to contemplate seriously. Biden’s obsession with reviving the disastrous 2015 nuclear deal utterly blinds the White House to the potential for a more significant victory.

To make matters worse, Biden has just created a Washington-based position at the State Department, a “special representative for Palestinian affairs,” that has already drawn criticism in Israel both for the new position itself and for the person named to fill it. Advocated as one more step toward “upgrading” U.S. relations with the Palestinian Authority, the new position looks nearly certain to become the locus not of advancing American interests regarding the failed Authority, but of advancing the Authority’s interests within the Biden administration.

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Read more at 19FortyFive

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Iran, Joe Biden, U.S.-Israel relationship