Recent Protests Show That Golani Druze Are Feeling More Israeli

Since June, Druze residents of the Golan Heights have staged mass public demonstrations against the planned construction of wind turbines in the area. They were joined by their coreligionists elsewhere in Israel, who have for the most part followed a separate political trajectory. Yusri Hazran explains the significance of this and related developments:

This was a protest over a civic issue, devoid of the nationalistic overtones that used to characterize occasional bouts of pro-Syrian demonstrations by Golan Druze. Absent were any Syrian flags during the entire period of stormy demonstrations. Instead, what was visible was the five-colored flag of the Druze (red, yellow, green, blue, and white) representing the higher values of the faith. This civic aspect of the protest confirms a growing trend of “instrumental integration” of the Golan Druze into Israel.

For decades after the 1967 war, the Druze community in the Golan conducted a political struggle against Israeli sovereignty and adhered to their Syrian identity. They had practical reasons—expectations that Israel would return the Golan to Syria, families and sometimes marriages among the Druze across the border in Syria, and government benefits like free university education in Damascus. In exchange the Golan Druze declined Israeli citizenship—excommunicating those who did apply for it—refused to serve in the IDF, and banned the Hebrew language in their schools.

This preference, however, began to fall apart following the outbreak of the popular uprising in Syria in 2011. A new tendency emerged among the younger generation in the Golan, driven by pragmatic considerations. . . .

By now, the “turbine protest” has demonstrated once again the intense solidarity of Druze communities across the region, reacting to perceived threats to their existence or their space. Perhaps it is a sign of the community’s ultimate integration into the somewhat fractious political culture of Israel that this solidarity is manifested in quite loud political protests.

Read more at Jerusalem Strategic Tribune

More about: Druze, Golan Heights, Israeli society

Hamas’s Hostage Diplomacy

Ron Ben-Yishai explains Hamas’s current calculations:

Strategically speaking, Hamas is hoping to add more and more days to the pause currently in effect, setting a new reality in stone, one which will convince the United States to get Israel to end the war. At the same time, they still have most of the hostages hidden in every underground crevice they could find, and hope to exchange those with as many Hamas and Islamic Jihad prisoners currently in Israeli prisons, planning on “revitalizing” their terrorist inclinations to even the odds against the seemingly unstoppable Israeli war machine.

Chances are that if pressured to do so by Qatar and Egypt, they will release men over 60 with the same “three-for-one” deal they’ve had in place so far, but when Israeli soldiers are all they have left to exchange, they are unlikely to extend the arrangement, instead insisting that for every IDF soldier released, thousands of their people would be set free.

In one of his last speeches prior to October 7, the Gaza-based Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar said, “remember the number one, one, one, one.” While he did not elaborate, it is believed he meant he wants 1,111 Hamas terrorists held in Israel released for every Israeli soldier, and those words came out of his mouth before he could even believe he would be able to abduct Israelis in the hundreds. This added leverage is likely to get him to aim for the release for all prisoners from Israeli facilities, not just some or even most.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli Security