Remembering the Druze, Muslims, and Christians Who Gave Their Lives for the Jewish State

Yom Hazikaron, Israel’s memorial day for fallen soldiers, began yesterday evening, and tonight gives way to Independence Day. Among those mourned are numerous members of non-Jewish groups. Hillel Kuttler writes:

Israel’s Defense Ministry counts 24,213 people as military fatalities (including those serving as police officers and prison guards) and victims of terrorist attacks, dating to before the state’s founding 75 years ago. My interviews this month with representatives of several minority groups reveal that the number includes 427 Druze, 221 Bedouins, 27 Christians, and approximately ten Circassians.

In a country replete with memorials to people killed protecting Israel, those communities’ losses are highlighted to varied degrees. The Druze complex in the Carmel mountains near Haifa, which includes a pre-army training center and an amphitheater on whose stage stands a memorial wall with the engraved names, is state-sponsored. So is a facility in the Jezreel Valley honoring the Bedouins; both sites host Yom Hazikaron ceremonies. The Circassian Heritage Center, in the village of Kfar Kamma, west of Tiberias, is privately funded. Jawdat Salameh, a Catholic, said he hopes to establish a memorial in the Galilee commemorating fallen Christian Israelis.

Since the combat death of his son in 1969, the ninety-five-year-old Druze leader Amal Nasser el-Din has been organizing efforts to memorialize these heroic Israelis. A former Knesset member, el-Din is scheduled to receive the Israel Prize, the country’s highest civilian honor, tomorrow. El-Din’s grandson was killed fighting in Gaza in 2008:

At the family’s mourning tent in 2008, someone asked Nasser el-Din whether he felt angry at Israel for the losses in action of his son and grandson. (Another son, Saleh, who likewise served in the Israel Defense Forces, was abducted as a civilian in 1995 by Hamas terrorists. He was never heard from again and is presumed dead.)

“To attain a strong, independent state, you must sacrifice,” el-Din [responded]. “And if I have to, I’ll sacrifice another son.”

Read more at Tablet

More about: Bedouin, Circassians, Druze, IDF, Israeli Christians, Israeli society, Yom Ha-Zikaron

Iran’s Calculations and America’s Mistake

There is little doubt that if Hizballah had participated more intensively in Saturday’s attack, Israeli air defenses would have been pushed past their limits, and far more damage would have been done. Daniel Byman and Kenneth Pollack, trying to look at things from Tehran’s perspective, see this as an important sign of caution—but caution that shouldn’t be exaggerated:

Iran is well aware of the extent and capability of Israel’s air defenses. The scale of the strike was almost certainly designed to enable at least some of the attacking munitions to penetrate those defenses and cause some degree of damage. Their inability to do so was doubtless a disappointment to Tehran, but the Iranians can probably still console themselves that the attack was frightening for the Israeli people and alarming to their government. Iran probably hopes that it was unpleasant enough to give Israeli leaders pause the next time they consider an operation like the embassy strike.

Hizballah is Iran’s ace in the hole. With more than 150,000 rockets and missiles, the Lebanese militant group could overwhelm Israeli air defenses. . . . All of this reinforces the strategic assessment that Iran is not looking to escalate with Israel and is, in fact, working very hard to avoid escalation. . . . Still, Iran has crossed a Rubicon, although it may not recognize it. Iran had never struck Israel directly from its own territory before Saturday.

Byman and Pollack see here an important lesson for America:

What Saturday’s fireworks hopefully also illustrated is the danger of U.S. disengagement from the Middle East. . . . The latest round of violence shows why it is important for the United States to take the lead on pushing back on Iran and its proxies and bolstering U.S. allies.

Read more at Foreign Policy

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, U.S. Foreign policy