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Israel's Nation-state Law Is Good for the Druze

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Members of Israel's Druze community at a funeral in Beit Jann for border police officer killed in a Palestinian attack in 2014.
Members of Israel's Druze community at a funeral in Beit Jann for border police officer killed in a Palestinian attack in 2014.Credit: \ REUTERS

In my book on the Druze in Israel, “Citizens with Equal Obligations: Druze Identity in the Jewish State,” published in 2006 (in Hebrew), I wrote:

“Since I formed my opinion, I have felt uncomfortable with the Druze-Jewish connection. At a rather early stage I understood that the deal made between the two sides is improper, if not to say odious.

"I realized that the dominant and strong Zionist-Jewish power has manipulated us helpless Druze, entirely for the good of the Zionist enterprise and the Jewish state This deal could very well turn out in the future to be not worthwhile to the Jewish state too, which as such excludes the Druze from within exactly the same as the rest of the Arabs in Israel.”

“The leaders of the Jewish pre-state community planted the illusion among the Druze that they are partners and brothers in arms. In reality, the country has disinherited the Druze from their lands, makes it difficult for them to build on those lands that remain, closes the door in their faces when it comes to everything concerning employment in government companies and does not invest in infrastructure and jobs in the villages and as we have seen from the research, Druze youths feel betrayed by it and the day may even come when their disappointment and frustration will be translated into a Druze intifada whose results no one can foresee.”

It seems that all that I foresaw has now come to pass in the storm blowing in the wake of the passage of the nation-state law. Not because I can predict the future but because the circumstances had to lead to the present dead end. As far as I am concerned, the law is not a surprise at all because it is a form of a precise photograph of practices long employed by Israel toward us Druze and the rest of the Arabs.

In this respect, putting matters in a legal framework does not harm us because it does not change the reality of our lives, anyway. All the more so, the law is good for us and bad for the country. It is good for us because it establishes the discriminatory, and even racist, reality in a basic law so we will no longer be forced to exert ourselves to prove our claims about institutionalized discrimination. It is bad for the country because it defames it among the enlightened nations of the world.

The law is good for the Druze because it puts an end to the delusion of having a shared fate, “the covenant of blood,” or “covenant of life,” and the rest of the hollow clichés. It is good for us because it is a form of a ringing slap in the face for anyone who still holds on to the Israeli illusions and that of equal and full citizenship – a slap that could cause them to recognize the situation correctly.

In recent days, we have witnessed anger and frustration, which we have not known among the Druze community, and it is great particularly among those who believed with all their hearts in an Israeliness of equality and inclusion. This is why a loud cry has been heard from senior army officers as well as the politicians and government officials who are fed this artificial Israeliness.

They are feeling betrayed, and they are hurt down to the depths of their souls. But in my humble opinion, they must direct their anger first and foremost at themselves for refusing to see the reality in front of them and preferring to live in a false consciousness despite the writing on the wall.

It is especially amazing in this context to see those who refuse to see the truth even after it has been legislated into law in the Knesset record and in the pages of history. Some have turned to the High Court of Justice, others are crying out and wailing from every stage, crying out and pleading and ingratiating themselves so as to be accepted into a simulated Israeliness that has never existed.

If anyone has any doubt, the law will not be amended and the wailing will be answered by weak pats on the shoulder, at the most. But this will not be the end of the matter. The big crises between the Druze community and the country seem still to be ahead of us. In the end, this is a question that the Druze do not need to ponder, but Israel does:

How does it define its identity and what is its relationship with the Arabs in its midst. The country’s leadership has twisted and turned all through the years between its Jewishness and democracy. The law puts an end to this twisting and turning and states that Judaism comes before democracy. The law discriminates and is even racist, but at least it is clear and does not try to square the circle as the liberals and self-righteous are trying to do, when the claim the country can be both.

Dr. Halabi, an expert on Druze identity, teaches at the Hebrew University of Jrusalem and Oranim College 

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