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.

Read more at Moshe Arens

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


When It Comes to Peace with Israel, Many Saudis Have Religious Concerns

Sept. 22 2023

While roughly a third of Saudis are willing to cooperate with the Jewish state in matters of technology and commerce, far fewer are willing to allow Israeli teams to compete within the kingdom—let alone support diplomatic normalization. These are just a few results of a recent, detailed, and professional opinion survey—a rarity in Saudi Arabia—that has much bearing on current negotiations involving Washington, Jerusalem, and Riyadh. David Pollock notes some others:

When asked about possible factors “in considering whether or not Saudi Arabia should establish official relations with Israel,” the Saudi public opts first for an Islamic—rather than a specifically Saudi—agenda: almost half (46 percent) say it would be “important” to obtain “new Israeli guarantees of Muslim rights at al-Aqsa Mosque and al-Haram al-Sharif [i.e., the Temple Mount] in Jerusalem.” Prioritizing this issue is significantly more popular than any other option offered. . . .

This popular focus on religion is in line with responses to other controversial questions in the survey. Exactly the same percentage, for example, feel “strongly” that “our country should cut off all relations with any other country where anybody hurts the Quran.”

By comparison, Palestinian aspirations come in second place in Saudi popular perceptions of a deal with Israel. Thirty-six percent of the Saudi public say it would be “important” to obtain “new steps toward political rights and better economic opportunities for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.” Far behind these drivers in popular attitudes, surprisingly, are hypothetical American contributions to a Saudi-Israel deal—even though these have reportedly been under heavy discussion at the official level in recent months.

Therefore, based on this analysis of these new survey findings, all three governments involved in a possible trilateral U.S.-Saudi-Israel deal would be well advised to pay at least as much attention to its religious dimension as to its political, security, and economic ones.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Islam, Israel-Arab relations, Saudi Arabia, Temple Mount