The Druze of the Golan Heights Are Reconciling Themselves with Israel

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


Only Hamas’s Defeat Can Pave the Path to Peace

Opponents of the IDF’s campaign in Gaza often appeal to two related arguments: that Hamas is rooted in a set of ideas and thus cannot be defeated militarily, and that the destruction in Gaza only further radicalizes Palestinians, thus increasing the threat to Israel. Rejecting both lines of thinking, Ghaith al-Omar writes:

What makes Hamas and similar militant organizations effective is not their ideologies but their ability to act on them. For Hamas, the sustained capacity to use violence was key to helping it build political power. Back in the 1990s, Hamas’s popularity was at its lowest point, as most Palestinians believed that liberation could be achieved by peaceful and diplomatic means. Its use of violence derailed that concept, but it established Hamas as a political alternative.

Ever since, the use of force and violence has been an integral part of Hamas’s strategy. . . . Indeed, one lesson from October 7 is that while Hamas maintains its military and violent capabilities, it will remain capable of shaping the political reality. To be defeated, Hamas must be denied that. This can only be done through the use of force.

Any illusions that Palestinian and Israeli societies can now trust one another or even develop a level of coexistence anytime soon should be laid to rest. If it can ever be reached, such an outcome is at best a generational endeavor. . . . Hamas triggered war and still insists that it would do it all again given the chance, so it will be hard-pressed to garner a following from Palestinians in Gaza who suffered so horribly for its decision.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict