Opinion |

The South African Model: Make Israel's Druze 'Honorary Jews'

Thanks to the Druze community's protest against the nation-state law, two basic truths were uncovered that can no longer be concealed

Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy
Residents get their photos taken with parrots at the Eid al-Adha carnival in a Druze village in northern Israel, September 6, 2017.
Residents get their photos taken with parrots at the Eid al-Adha carnival in a Druze village in northern Israel, September 6, 2017.Credit: Ari Plachta
Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy

The solution to the problem of the Druze can be adopted as usual from the ideological mother country and former best friend, South Africa. In the 1960s, the apartheid regime there coined the term “honorary whites.” This title was given to Southeast Asians, especially the Japanese, due strictly to trade connections. By the way, they were also deemed “honorary Aryans” by the Nazis.

This then is the solution: Make the Druze “honorary Jews,” because of their contribution to the army, and that’s the end of the problem of their identity in the Jewish state.

>> 'When we’re in uniform they treat us well': Israel's Druze no longer feel like blood brothers

We must be grateful to the Druze. Thanks to their protest, though mainly thanks to the hypocritical shock of their Jewish “brothers,” two basic truths were uncovered that can no longer be concealed: One: There’s no racism in installments, as Israel would have it; there’s only racism and not-racism. Two: There is no democratic solution except a state of all its citizens. Thanks to the Druze, who unfortunately are only seeing to themselves and not all the minorities, this realization may be percolating throughout society. Any other solution will be a lie, a patchwork of deception. There will be no democracy in Israel if it is not a state of all its citizens.

The government’s entanglement with the Druze and the self-righteous stream of responses from the Jewish majority might have been a phase of comic relief in the history of Zionism as racism, had they not been so pitiful. Israel woke up in horror: Oops, we forgot that the Druze are our active partners in the occupation, loyal soldiers in the army of defense. In Druze Hebrew it’s called a covenant of blood.

And so we have to listen to their distress. In a state in which the only worthwhile contribution is the killing of Arabs, the Druze are worthy of consideration. Petitions signed by reserve generals, who never signed a petition about anything else, swarms of empty words about a covenant and equality, growing public pressure. Even the esteemed Druze journalist Riyad Ali needed his son the policeman serving in the occupied part of Jerusalem to attract attention.

Once again it’s been proven: This is Sparta, when it comes to minorities too. Has Druze Brig. Gen. Amal Assad been insulted by the nation-state law? That’s the end of the world. The injustice must immediately be corrected. And if Prof. Nicola Mabjeesh and Dr. Yazid Barghouti, two excellent, non-Druze Arab urological surgeons at Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hospital, are insulted? They weren’t officers, and so their contribution is demeaned and nobody cares if they are insulted by the law. Let them continue to devotedly and expertly care for Jews, and let them say thanks for being here.

Israel is representing a new scale of rights: At the top are Jews who kill Arabs (serving in the army), after them come Jews who do not serve in the army, followed by Druze who serve, Bedouin who serve, Circassians who serve, Christians, who are relatively good Arabs, and at the bottom, Muslim Arabs, who are not entitled to rights in the Jewish state.

Not only Riyad Ali and Amal Assad have been insulted by the law. All Israeli Muslims, some of whom have made no less of a contribution to the state (and in any case their rights must not derive from their contribution), have been insulted to the depths of their souls. The Golani Brigade soldiers of former IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi did not publish a nauseating, syrupy manifesto for them of “support, identification and embrace of our brethren,” the old-timer veterans of the Paratroops Brigade did not stand with them “shoulder to shoulder as an expression of the values of comradeship.” The Muslim physicians, pharmacists, nurses, writers, students and workers don’t deserve an embrace or comradeship. They don’t serve in the army so they don’t have rights.

Israel can continue with its racist prioritization of Arabs from the good to the bad. We’ll compensate the Druze and be stuck with the Circassians; we’ll pay off the Circassians and what will we do with the Christians, and what about the Bedouin trackers? Israel won’t be democratic unless it gives full equality to all its citizens, without differentiation. Meanwhile let’s give the Druze the title of “honorary Jews.” That will make Israel a democracy, just like there was in South Africa.

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