Photo Credit: Eitan Elhadez/TPS
A Druze man. August 4, 2018

According to figures released by Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics on Wednesday, the Druze population has grown ten times since the state’s founding in 1948. The figures were released ahead of the Druze festival of Nabi Shuʿayb.

The holiday marks the anniversary of the death of the Biblical figure, Jethro, to whom the Druze trace their ancestry. A shrine stands in the now-abandoned village of Hittim, near Tiberias, where Jethro — the father-in-law of Moses and known to the Druze as Shu’ayb — is believed to have been buried and many will make a pilgrimage. The Israeli government recognizes the shrine as a holy site under Druze custodianship.


This year’s festival is from April 25-28.

Druze serve in senior positions in public and military life, and the bond between Jewish and Druze soldiers is referred to as the “covenant of blood.” The Druze speak Arabic but are not Muslim, and are very secretive about their religious beliefs.

Tenfold Growth
According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, the Druze have grown from a community of 14,500 in 1949 to 152,000.

At the close of 2022, the localities boasting the highest Druze populations were Daliyat al-Karmel and Yarka, each with communities of over 17,000.

Demographically, the proportion of children aged 0-14 among the Druze population stood at 23.8% by the end of 2022, a figure lower than that of the Jewish and Muslim populations but higher than that of Arab Christians.

Education plays a significant role in the socio-economic advancement of any community, and the Druze community in Israel is no exception. Notably, 43.5% of Druze high school graduates pursued a bachelor’s degree within eight years of completing their secondary education, outpacing the average for Arab education. Moreover, the number of Druze students in higher education institutions has increased substantially over the years, reaching 5,859 in the academic year 2022/23.

The involvement of Druze individuals in higher education extends beyond students to teaching staff as well. In the academic year 2023/24, there were 3,741 Druze teaching staff in higher education institutions, marking a 2.9% increase from the previous year. Additionally, the number of Druze faculty members has also seen a slight rise, reaching 185 in the same period.

In terms of employment, 83.8% of Druze households were households with employees, surpassing the percentages among Muslims and Arab Christians.

The Druze living in the Galilee and Mount Carmel areas sided with the Jews in 1948 during Israel’s War of Independence. When Israel captured the Golan Heights during the Six-Day War of 1967, it offered citizenship to the Druze living there. Most refused, but the younger generation is increasingly integrating itself into Israeli society.


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