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.