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Druze Leaders Appeal to Israel for Syrian Druze Brethren

Druze leaders in northern Israel have appealed to the Israeli government to allow their children who crossed into Syria to return to Israel.
By Chana Ya'ar
First Publish: 6/23/2013, 1:46 PM

Druze protesters at Majdal Shams
Druze protesters at Majdal Shams
Flash 90

Druze leaders in northern Israel have appealed to the Israeli government to allow their children who had crossed the border into Syria and stayed there, back into the Jewish State.

In a written request to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, the leaders asked not only for the students to return home, but also for permits for the Syrian relatives of the students – spouses and other family members – to cross the border to safety in Israel.

Nabih Hanjar, the attorney to gave the letter to director-general Harel Locker in the Prime Minister’s Office, told the Hebrew-language Ma’ariv daily newspaper: “Israeli law does not allow for [the students’ automatic return], because after a few years [of living in Syria] the Interior Ministry removes their names from the Population Registry.

“That’s why we’re asking for an exception to be made, so that they can return to Israel with their families. We’re talking about no more than 20 families,” he said.

But the request puts Israel in a very tough position, as it can set a precedent for a much larger influx later on.

The Druze community has been supportive of the Jewish State since their existence as citizens in the country, and many have served as IDF soldiers and military officers.

Some young Druze have become increasingly belligerent and nationalistic in protests against the State of Israel, however. Many have become hostile to the Jewish State. 

There have been violent demonstrations in traditionally peaceful integrated villages such as Peki’in, in the Galillee, for instance, where a few years ago Jewish property were burned and Jews were threatened.

Moreover, in the Golan Heights, there are many others who never accepted Israel’s victory over the region in 1967, and who to this day consider themselves Syrian. They themselves present a risk to the security of Israel in the region – and to accept more of their brethren across the border might only exacerbate that risk. In addition, it could set a precedent for the demand by the Palestinian Authority that Israel allow millions of foreign Arabs to immigrate to Israel under what it insists is their “Right of Return.”

Over the past several years, a number of young Druze have been targeted by radical Islamists, and have chosen to participate in political parties such as Balad, the Israeli Arab party formerly led by Azmi Bishara. The former MK who fled before he could be charged with treason for sharing intelligence information with the enemy during wartime in the 2006 Second Lebanon War against the Lebanon-based Hizbullah terrorist organization. 

Balad is now led by MK Jamal Zahalka, also a radical anti-Israeli legislator who constantly advocates for destruction of the very state he legally represents.