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July 25, 2014 / 27 Tammuz, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Druze’

Druze Community Shows Solidarity with Kidnap Teens’ Families

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

The spiritual leader of Israel’s Druze community has expressed solidarity and support for the families of the teenagers kidnapped by Arab terrorists last Thursday evening.

“The thoughts of all the Druze in Israel have been directed to the fate of your sons,” wrote Sheikh Muafeq Tarif, in a letter sent to the Frenkel, Yifrach and Sha’ar families on Tuesday.

Naftali Frenkel, age 16, Gilad Sha’ar, age 16 and Eyal Yifrach, age 19 were abducted by terrorists in Gush Etzion while hitchhiking home for the Sabbath after their week’s learning at the renowned Mekor Chaim Yeshiva in Kfar Etzion.

“Your destiny is our destiny, and the hope for a quick release brings you and us together. I cannot imagine where your thoughts have gone since this terrible experience began last week, but rest assured that with your strength, and tremendous faith, you will soon hug your children,” the sheikh wrote.

“As the leader of the Druze community, I want to give you strength in the face of this violent criminal act of terrorism, as there is no other way to define this,” he added.

“I know that the best combat soldiers and commanders of the Druze community have made every effort to locate the children and capture the kidnappers. This is our opportunity as a Druze minority in Israel to express solidarity with you and with security forces and the country.

“The entire Druze community prays for the release of the children and stands by you for any request or need.”

A Nation in Unity on Yom HaZikaron, Israel’s Remembrance Day

Monday, May 5th, 2014

Israel’s flag is waving at half mast and the memory of 23,169 lost Israeli soldiers and victims of terror has quieted the nation on Yom HaZikaron, Israel’s Remembrance Day.

No music plays in the neighborhoods, and children are not laughing today on the streets. A somber air is felt throughout the country as Israelis remember their fallen.

Some of those are not even Jewish. They are Bedouin or Druze or Circassians who have thrown in their lot with their Jewish neighbors. They, too, have paid the price.

Few indeed are those in this country who have not lost at least one family member in military action or terror, or are not close to someone who has, in the struggle to fulfill the mitzvah to hold this Holy Land, Eretz Tzion, Israel.

By age 16, all Jewish teens in Israel receive their first IDF notice, summoning them for exams to determine a medical, educational and psychological fitness profile. The IDF recently announced it will soon begin to send voluntary draft notices to all Christian Israelis, offering them the chance to enlist in Israel’s army as well.

By 18, most boys and girls in this country are smiling and nervously getting into fitted green or camel-colored uniforms, queuing up at central bus stations before and after Shabbat and talking about what happened in their new units “at the base.”

They’re babies, really — babies learning how to face killers; other babies fed on evil hatred since birth. Last year, 40 died, though some of those were reservists, IDF soldiers who return to serve 30 days a year to help the “newbies” and the career soldiers keep Israel safe from its enemies. “Reservists” can be soldiers in their 20s — or as old as 40.

“It is difficult, if not impossible, to show those that haven’t experienced it the size of the grief that befell us, the intensity of the shock that grasps us, and the sense of loss that fills us,” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu explained at Monday’s ceremony at Mount Herzl military cemetery, attended also by President Shimon Peres, IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz and a host of other officials.

Paraphrasing and slightly changing a well-known Psalm of King David, he said, “There, we sat at the graves of our loved ones, and wept, and we remembered our loved ones that fell for the sake of Zion.”

Sweeping the entire People of Israel into unity with Israel’s grief over its fallen, the prime minister said, “On this day, the entire people relates to the heroes of the nation. They come from all parts of the nation and from all parts of society. The simple truth that is the most concise is this: we would not be here if it were not for their sacrifice.

“Even if it means unparalleled pain, a great miracle happened here. Israel returned to her country, to her home, established a state and did wonders, but at this moment we should not forget that it is a privilege to be here.”

People came to their feet across the country as a siren wailed into the skies at 11 o’clock in the morning, reminding Israelis of the price paid for peace, and Israel’s defense.

A candle lighting ceremony at the Western Wall last night, announced by the nationwide siren at eight o’clock in the evening, also featured an address by President Peres.

“We, the Israelis, are not like every people,” the president pointed out. “Already for years a sad generation hasn’t relaxed, hasn’t been able to enjoy a time of happiness. Our joy is always missing. A cloud of sadness envelops us. It is deeply hidden, but one can see it in our eyes.”

The president spoke of parents who lost their children, “the image of the soldiers that fell in Israel’s wars… They did not have time to plant a tree. They didn’t taste the full flavor of love. They left behind you, the bereaved families… and us, the friends, to painfully remember.”

Druze Artist Marches Among the Living at Nazi Death Camps

Monday, April 28th, 2014

A Druze artist who has devoted the lion’s share of her work to depicting scenes of the Holocaust joined the 12,000 participants in this year’s March of the Living.

Buteina Halabei, 38, lives in the northern Israeli town of Daliyat al-Karmel with her husband Tamir, a teacher, and their three children. The artist was invited to join the March by Dr. Shmuel Rosenman, chairman of the event, and his deputy and general director Aharon Tamir, to thank her for her work in this area.

Both she and her husband offer classes on the Holocaust in the Druze community, and give lectures at local schools. A professional artist, she has devoted most of her career to painting scenes of the Holocaust – but the works are not for sale.

Halabei explained in a past interview that the pieces are expressions of her “thoughts and feelings, and one doesn’t sell one’s thoughts and feelings.”

It’s not an uncommon decision among artists; Brooklyn-based Syrian Jewish artist Robin Antar, a sculptor whose ancestors hailed from Aleppo and settled in the United States three generations ago, also hoards a number of special pieces that she absolutely will not sell. Antar was recently in Israel searching for stone to use in new works, and to retrace the steps of her son, who passed away a few months ago.

“Art from the soul cannot be sold,” explains Antar. ” One cannot sell one’s soul.” She would know. Antar is about to begin working on a knot that transforms into a memorial flame reaching to the heavens, symbolizing the tortured soul of the son who passed away.

“In many ways he was tortured in ways not unlike some of those in the concentration camps,” Antar told The Jewish Press in a telephone interview. The horrified mother discovered years ago that her helpless toddler had been repeatedly abused and forced to witness acts of sexual abuse and torture of other children by an adult pedophile in his Brooklyn daycare. His perpetrator ultimately managed to escape justice despite strenuous efforts by the Syrian community and his parents to force the legal system to hold him responsible for his crimes.  An Orthodox Jewish rabbinical court (Beis Din) did, in fact, rule in favor of the parents and validate their accusations but the civil justice system refused to recognize the document.

Israeli Organization Empowers Arab and Druze Women

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

Under the auspices of MASHAV-Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation, Mazal Renford has worked to promote the cause of both Palestinian and Israeli Arab women. In her capacity as director of Haifa’s Golda Meir Mount Carmel International Training Center, Renford has made great strides to this end. Speaking to participants at the Stand With Us International Women’s Conference, Renford discussed her work to “bring Israelis and Palestinians together,” which involves frequent consultations with Palestinian women from Judea and Samaria.

According to Renford, “If we educate for peace, maybe one day we will enjoy it.” As “a city of peaceful coexistence” where Jews, Christians, Muslims, Druze and Bahais live side by side, Renford believes Haifa is the ideal location for her work. Renford’s organization was founded on former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir’s belief that “women weren’t taken into consideration in the process of development,” despite their pivotal importance. In this regard, Renford emphasizes that “Israel has been a pioneer in promoting” women’s development, with the Golda Meir Mount Carmel International Training Center providing Palestinian women an opportunity to “come, learn how to set up a business, and stand up for their rights.”

Vered Sawied, a former mayor of Netanya who is presently working for the Prime Minister’s Office as an Advisor for Social and Welfare Issues, notes that while Israeli Jewish women often struggle to find the right balance between work and family, “the situation in Arab society is more difficult.” For this reason, explains Sawied, Israel set up an authority to provide jobs for Arabs as well as specific scholarships for Arab women seeking to enter the hi-tech profession.

Hiba Zaidan, a young Druze PhD student, credits Israeli professors and her family with helping her advance. She claimed that in Druze society, it is considered taboo for a woman to drive, go to school, or even leave the village without an escort. This has created major problems for Druze women who wish to work and study outside the village.

However, Zaidan also emphasized that Druze society is changing due to courageous and bold strides made by Druze women, with many of them now driving and studying to be teachers. She noted, however, that psychological research at the PhD level is still very rare for Druze women. “Lots of people in my village were against me getting a PhD,” she stated. She added that her Israeli professors were very understanding of her situation and always offer her assistance.

Dr. Janan Faraj-Falah was the first Druze woman in Israel to receive her PhD and today works as a lecturer at the University of Haifa, as well as the Arab Academic College for Education. Her book “The Druze Woman” is widely acclaimed both in Israel and around the world as the first book to discuss the status of women in the Druze community. Additionally, she is the founder of the Women’s Vision of Akko Foundation, which brings Jewish and Arab women together to work towards peace.

According to Dr. Faraj-Falah, “I established this association to improve women’s status and support peace. Women bring life into this world so women can also bring peace.” Some of her organization’s projects include constructing peace gardens in which Jewish and Arab children play, teaching Arabic to Jewish women and Hebrew to Arab women, and bringing both Jewish and Palestinian writers together for joint meetings. She emphasizes, “We will continue our march for peace and never give up.” Her work is supported by Renford, who notes, “Bringing Arabs and Jews together can make a big difference.”

Visit United with Israel.

Rebels’ Car Bomb Kills 18 in Christina-Druze Damascus Suburb

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

Syrian rebels set off a car bomb and killed at least 18 people and wounded dozens of others in a predominantly Christian and Druze suburb of Damascus Tuesday night. Rebels have suspected Syrian Druze and Christians, who have to portray themselves as neutral in the civil war, of secretly supporting the Assad regime.

Official state television showed footage of stores that sustained heavy damage from the explosion, that also burned dozens of vehicles.

Arab World War Two: Sunni versus Shia

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reports

Domestic fury and fierce civil strife….
Blood and destruction shall be so in use
And dreadful objects so familiar
That mothers shall but smile when they behold
Their infants quarter’d with the hands of war;
All pity choked with custom of fell deeds….
Shall in these confines with a monarch’s voice
Cry ‘Havoc,’ and let slip the dogs of war….”
William Shakespeare, “Julius Caesar”

This is not merely coincidental violence. True, the currently self-flagellating West used to have scenes like this but no more. Today, the West is an island of tolerance despite the orgy within it of self-blame and criticism. Meanwhile, other places daily show orgies of violence but neither self-criticism nor full awareness in the outside world of the implications.

Let’s take one little example from the daily situation of places from that vast expanse between Nigeria and Indonesia that coincides with Muslim-majority countries. Yet Muslims are also the main victim from the violence, due to the horror of radical Islamism and whipped-up-into-a-frenzy fanaticism which characterizes Arab World War Two.

In early June, Salafists stirred up hatred at the purported threat from a tiny minority of 30 Shia Muslims living in the village of Zawiyat Abu Muslim near Cairo. Shias are a microscopic portion of Egypt’s population, far less than one percent. Until recently one was barely aware they existed at all. But then until recently the same was true of that 1 percent minority of real Shia Muslims in Syria (along the Lebanese border, the Alawites are about as Shia Muslim as the Catholic pope is Mormon)  which has done so much to prompt the Hizballah offensive in the Syrian civil war.

On June 23, a Muslim holiday, a leading Shia cleric named Hassan Shehata was visiting and spoke at a small religious gathering. A mob of up to 3000 regular people, the neighbors, marched on the house where the Shia were gathered. The guests were beaten up, three petrol bombs set the house on fire, and four Shia were murdered. Five Shia houses in all were burned.

Shehata, an inoffensive and apolitical religious scholar was stabbed to death and dragged through the streets.

Let’s not take any point for granted here:

–The attackers and killers were ordinary villagers.

–The attack was not spontaneous but deliberately organized.

–The Arabic-speaking world is gearing up for a massive Sunni versus Shia bloodbath as well as a Sunni war on Christians. The war on Jews is nothing new and if Israel could not defend itself what happened in that village would be our fate in this modern edition of the European Middle Ages.

Generally, please note, the Christians cannot defend themselves. And Kurds, Druze, the Bahais in Iran also face such potential or actual problems.  In all cases these are wars of extermination or at least expulsion.

–The victims were not engaged in any violent or provocative acts. They were killed because of their religious identity and for no other reason.

–The villagers were proud of what they had done.

–The police did not try to stop the violence even when one Shia was killed in front of them as they stood by.

–The Egyptian government won’t do anything. Nobody who is not a conformist supporter of the dictatorship and in the right group can expect protection. (With occasional exceptions as with a single Muslim preacher brought to court because he burned a Christian Bible a few months ago.

–The government and police are on the side of the murderers.

–The police threw the victims into a pile, adding to the lack of respect for them.

–A Salafist television station and websites praised the killers and accused Shehata of having insulted Muhammad, the founder of Islam. Note that any non-Sunni or in other cases non-Shia can be falsely accused of doing something insulting to Islam and murdered.

–Certainly the government will not denounce this crime and the perpetrators probably won’t be arrested as those who attack churches and Coptic Christians are not arrested. This includes those who carried out the very public attack on the Cairo cathedral last month, during a service itself commemorating the earlier murder of Christians. Al-Azhar, the center of (Sunni) Islam religious authority did do so.

–An important principle in Islamic states is that the actual government, that is by the allegedly moderate Muslim Brotherhood, also unleashes and uses the more militant Salafists to do what they want as long as they don’t challenge the regime.  You cannot just go by government behavior but by the vigilante activity the government permits. The recent upsurge in opposition activity has pushed the Brotherhood and Salafists together. A key point in an Islamist state is that there is no real government protection for the rights of minorities despite the promises based on Islamic texts.
Here’s a Syrian Salafist commander in a typical such claim:

“We have been providing the minorities with their rights ever since the establishment of the state of Islam, since the beginning of the Caliphate in the days of the Prophet Muhammad, and in the days of the Righteous Caliphs, and to this day. Throughout history, nobody has suffered injustice under the state of Islam – the state of truth and justice.”

Only now in recent years, that lie about minorities has been extended to Shia.

–Every day such crimes are committed by pogroms and terror attacks, especially right now in Nigeria, Pakistan, Iraq, and Syria.  Indeed, terrorism against Israel is a militarily sophisticated type of pogrom, complete with the frequent rationalization of Palestinian governments. (And this is an issue that the American elite thinks is on the verge of solution, especially if there are one-sided Israeli concessions?)

–Violence in Iraq on a Sunni-Shia basis (mostly Sunnis attacking Shia) is at a high point. Imagine what things will be like when a Sunni Islamist ruled Syria   hates and tries to foment unrest in s Shia-ruled Iraq which will no doubt push Baghdad toward the waiting arms of Iran! Two American “clients” at war backed by two anti-American backed alliances!

–Since this is such explosive stuff, the Western mass media and institutions put the main emphasis on playing it down on the off-chance that…what? Western citizens will go burn down houses and stab their Muslim neighbors? They assume that their audiences must be kept in ignorance lest they turn to prejudice and hatred. Even admitting that the contemporary American track record is better than the Middle East skirts the supposed edge of racism. Heaven forbid that Western civilization regard itself, at least today, as more advanced.

–The proper response would be to sympathize with the victims against the murderers and point out that, just as Germans oppressed other Germans during the Nazi era, sympathy and support should go to the victims against the political criminals and not to minimize the threat lest sausage shops or Lutheran churches be attacked.

–Iran condemned the attacks on Shias, saying it was contrary to Islam. But of course the whole central narrative of Islam is based on Sunni persecution of  Shia. Of course, don’t try to find a Sunni mosque in Tehran, and Iran’s ally, Syria, is treating Sunnis far more ruthlessly than the norm in Egypt. Have no doubt about the intensity of this conflict. Egypt and Iran may well eventually find a proxy war. In fact, they are now doing so in Syria.

–A high-ranking Hamas leader even said that overthrowing the Syrian regime is a higher priority than staging  jihad in Palestine. Of course, the Sunnis know that overthrowing Assad is a step forward on the jihad against Israel but he isn’t supposed to say that. Still, it reveals the depth of hatred and antagonism toward the fellow Arabs and Muslims.

As a new report by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center puts it:

The depth of the Sunni-Shi’ite schism can be seen in all the major arenas where regional conflicts are being waged. It is reflected in Hezbollah’s growing involvement in the fighting in Syria, the spilling over of the Syrian civil war into Lebanon, record-breaking sectarian violence in Iraq, and the aggressive stance taken by the Persian Gulf states towards Iran and Hezbollah. Thus, the Sunni-Shi’ite schism is emerging as one of the most influential factors shaping the Middle East in a time of regional upheaval.”

You can read about the modern history of the Sunni-Shia relationship in that report. It points out the new parallels with anti-Jewish thinking among Sunnis including the creation of a forged “The Protocols of the Clerics of Qom” which matches The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.”

The Shia, for their part, reciprocate with their own hatred. How distant seem the days when Iran’s ambition to lead the Muslim Middle East seems credible or the Arab-Israeli conflict seemed central to the region!

As the report cited above continued:

“The meaning of that escalation is that, ideologically speaking, the fight against the Shi’a (and its representatives, Iran and Hezbollah) takes precedence over the fight against the West and Israel—although it does not mean that the fight will necessarily be backed by actual on-the-ground efforts. This coincides with the political and social reality brought about by the regional upheaval: a widening of the fundamental fault lines that run through the Arab and Muslim world.”

Here’s my article on a recent report from a Muslim Brotherhood think tank that confirms this analysis.

Yes, that is the fruit of the “Arab Spring.” Not as the Western sorcerer’s apprentices’ expected love, peace, and democracy but the rise of Islamism and the Sunni-Shia war.

This does not mean–as the brilliant young analyst Phillip Smyth points out–that the Shia Iranian Revolutionary Guard and the Sunni al-Qaida won’t soon be competing over how many Americans each group can kill in Syria. It does mean, however, that things have really changed in the region.

Forget the dreams of a new era of peace and democracy. The next several decades—and that’s the optimistic version—will be full of Zawiyat Abu Muslim’s writ large. Anyone who is sensible will avoid the wreckage and send out the lifeboats.

Note: Arab World War One was the nationalist era’s equivalent of today’s battle,what Malcolm Kerr called the Arab Cold War of the 1950s and 1960s between the radical nationalists and the more conservative traditionalist forces.

Druze in Israel Ask to Bring 20 Families from Syria

Sunday, June 23rd, 2013

Druze leaders living on the Israeli Golan Heights asked Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to allow Druze from 20 families in Syria to enter Israel.

The Druze living in Syria had left the Golan as students, many marrying and starting families, but the request could expand to include family members of the Golan Druze stuck in the middle of the violent two-year Syrian civil war.

Approximately 20,000 Druze and a slightly larger number of Jews live on the Golan Heights.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/druze-in-israel-ask-to-bring-20-families-from-syria/2013/06/23/

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