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[LINK] “Will Israel reach out to Syrian Druze?”

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Writing in Al-Monitor, Ben Caspit speculates that Israel might well intervene in Syria on behalf of the Druze minority in the south of the country, adjoining Israel and with a substantial population of co-religionists inside the Jewish nation-state.

While Israel is gearing up for the “day after Assad,” without knowing what that day without President Bashar al-Assad will bring, Israel’s neutrality with regard to the civil and ethnic war in Syria is being challenged by an interesting turn of events. In the past few weeks, the heads and leaders of the dominant Druze sect in Israel have turned to Israeli authorities with the request to extend help to the hundreds of thousands of Druze in Syria. These Druze are very concerned about the steady advance of the Islamic rebels toward Jabal al-Druze, or Mount Druze, where the majority of Syrian Druze are concentrated.

The contacts were conducted so quietly that were not revealed until June 12 in the Israeli daily Haaretz. The Druze are characterized as being loyal citizens of the central regime of the country in which they live. The Druze, who are dispersed across Syria, Lebanon and Israel, are viewed as an especially close-knit community that maintains tight cultural and familial connections, despite the borders and even wars that play a role in separating their various population centers in the Middle East. They tend to settle and establish their villages on high, mountainous areas, to improve their self-protection and defense capabilities. In Lebanon they are concentrated around Mount Lebanon and in Syria, at Jabal al-Druze, as well. Most of the Druze villages in Israel are located in the mountainous Galilee region.

There are about 136,000 Druze in Israel today; they signed “a covenant of blood” with the Jews even before the establishment of the State of Israel, taking part in Israel’s wars and battles. They have sacrificed their youngsters in Israel’s defense. Thus, they are viewed as patriotic Israelis. Members of the Druze community serve in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and rise to high-level command positions; the conscription percentages among the Druze minority (those who are Israeli citizens are drafted, unlike Golan Heights Druze, who are not drafted) are even higher than that of Jewish Israelis. On average, 83% of them serve in the IDF, compared with 75% among Jewish Israelis.The military cemeteries are full of graves of Druze soldiers. In short, the vast majority of the Israeli Druze identify themselves with the State of Israel.

When Israel conquered the Golan Heights in 1967, about 20,000 additional Druze, residents of the Heights, found themselves living in Israeli territory. In contrast to their Israeli-Druze brethren, most of the Golan Heights Druze remained loyal to Hafez al-Assad’s regime and refused to accept Israeli citizenship, even though it was offered to them. Nevertheless, and despite their strong affiliation to Syria and their refusal to take Israeli citizenship, good relations and mutual trust prevailed between the Druze in the Golan Heights and the Israeli authorities.

Written by Randy McDonald

June 17, 2015 at 10:31 pm

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

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  • blogTO identifies ten shows to look out for at this year’s Toronto Fringe Festival.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes a paper suggesting that superearth rho 55 Cancri e may have had a spectacularly violent history.
  • Geocurrents maps voting patterns in Nigeria’s recent election, observing how there are echoes of Biafra.
  • Marginal Revolution suggests the disappearance of bitcoin price volatility means bad things for the cryptocurrency.
  • maximos62 argues in favour of the return of the Elgin Marbles to the Parthenon on geological grounds.
  • Steve Munro and Transit Toronto both note the promised new ten-minute bus network.
  • Personal Reflections’ Jim Belshaw wonders at the incompetence of the Australian government.
  • Registan looks at how the Ukrainian crisis is being kept at a low ebb intentionally.
  • Savage Minds suggests that a boycott of Israeli academic institutions would be effective.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes an American court ruling to the effect that anti-Muslim discrimination in Saudi courts make them unsuitable venues.
  • The Financial Times‘ The World argues Greece cannot be left to its own devices.
  • Window on Eurasia looks at official Chechen support for the Chechen diaspora across Russia and reports on claims of growing dissent in Tuva.

[BLOG] Some Friday links

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  • Centauri Dreams anticipates Ceres.
  • Crooked Timber notes Big Oil is turning against Big Coal.
  • Geocurrents shares Martin Lewis’ slides on Nigeria.
  • Language Hat, reflecting on Irish and Hebrew, considers language change and shift.
  • Language Log examines the historical American broadcast r-less accent.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money wants a good history of the Occupy movement.
  • The New APPS Blog wonders what philosophical work might look like as technology and modes of scholarship evolve.
  • The Power and Money’s Noel Maurer looks at Mexico’s political parties.
  • Towleroad notes controversy in Houston over elderly LGBT housing and relations with police.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy argues against the policies that led to Orange Telecom’s withdrawal from the Israeli occupied territories.
  • Window on Eurasia looks at Russification, notes how Russia’s satellite program depends on American imports, and looks at the military incapacity of Tajikistan versus foreign threats like ISIS.

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

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  • Centauri Dreams reports on the Planetary Society’s solar sail.
  • Joe. My. God. links to Miley Cyrus’ coming out story.
  • Language Log criticizes the numbers given for Chinese language speakers.
  • The Power and the Money looks at the fragmentation of the Mexican political scene.
  • Savage Minds considers the academic boycott of Israel.
  • Towleroad notes a sad case of homophobia in Northern Ireland.
  • Window on Eurasia notes that the two Ukrainian Orthodox churches not under the control of Russia are moving towards union.

[BLOG] Some history links

  • Anthropology.net looked at the impact of megafloods on the downfal of pre-Columbian Cahokia.
  • The Big Picture contrasted pictures of Berlin in 1945 with photos of the same scenes now.
  • Patrick Cain mapped geology onto politics, drawing inspiration from one map showing Labour strength in old coal-mining areas in the United Kingdom to display another map showing how cotton-growing areas with their large black populations are pro-Democratic.
  • Crooked Timber hosted Chris Bertram’s memories of left-wing Paris in the 1970s and John Holbo’s exploration of how Nazis were conservative revolutionaries.
  • The Dragon’s Tales wondered if there could be remnants of Theia in asteroidal debris, looks at human evolution, and notes the distinctive Neanderthal inner ear.
  • Far Outliers examined at great length Comanche empire-building.
  • Language Hat considers the imperial culture common to Romans, looks at conflicts over characters in written Japanese, considers Korean etymology starting with Arirang, and looks at the relationship between ethnogenesis and language.
  • Languages of the World examined the dialects of northern England, claimed that Moroccan Arabic had a Roman heritage, and looked at the old Israeli-Iranian alliance.
  • The Map Room’s Jonathan Crowe linked to historical highway maps of Manitoba.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog examined natural population change in England over a vast stretch of time.
  • Spacing Toronto looked at the great Toronto fire of 1904 and examined the city’s role in the birth of personal computers.

  • Torontoist examined how Toronto comemmorated the Armenian genocide.
  • Understanding Society looked at philosophy in the French left after 1945.

[BLOG] Some Monday links

  • Anthropology.net notes the embarrassing discovery that one of the vertebrae believed to have been part of the skeleton of early hominid Lucy actually belonged to a baboon.
  • Antipope Charlie Stross comes up with another worrisome explanation for the Great Filter.
  • BlogTO visits the Toronto offices of photo community site 500px.
  • Centauri Dreams features a guest essay from Ashley Baldwin about near- and medium-term search strategies and technologies for exoplanets.
  • Crooked Timber examines problems with non-copyright strategies.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper noting oddities in the protoplanetary disk of AA Tauri.
  • The Dragon’s Tales considers how how to make enduring software.
  • Mathew Ingram notes that Rolling Stone encountered ruin with the story of Jackie by wanting it to be true.
  • Joe. My. God. notes a New York City artist who took pictures of people in adjacent condos won the privacy suit put against him.
  • Language Hat looks at foreign influence in the French language.
  • Language Log links to a study of Ronald Reagan’s speeches that finds evidence of his progression to Alzheimer’s during the presidency.
  • Languages of the World considers the geopolitics of a military strike against the Iranian nuclear program.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money argues that Jonah Lehrer was not treated unfairly.
  • Marginal Revolution approves of Larry Kramer’s new GLBT-themed history of the United States.
  • Justin Petrone at North contrasts Easter as celebrated in Estonian and Russian churches.
  • Savage Minds features an essay in support of the BDS movement aimed against Israel.
  • Spacing engages David Miller on the need of urbanites to have access to nature.
  • Torontoist notes the popularity of a bill against GLBT conversion therapy at Queen’s Park.
  • Towleroad observes the beginning of an opera about Grindr.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy takes issue with Gerry Trudeau’s criticism of cartoons which satirize Islam.
  • Window on Eurasia looks at a Tatar woman who kept Islam alive in Soviet Moscow, argues that the sheer size of Donbas means that Russia cannot support it, looks at the centrality of the Second World War in modern Russia, and suggests the weak Ukrainian state but strong civil society is the inverse of the Russian situation.

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

  • Gerry Canavan produces his own compendium of interesting links.
  • Centauri Dreams speculates about the colours indicative of extraterrestrial life, and ecologies.
  • Crooked Timber takes a look at Northern Ireland and the legacies of past violence.
  • The Dragon’s Tales reports on a hominid fossil that may indicate a much greater diversity in our ancestral gene pool than we thought.
  • A Fistful of Euros’ Edward Hugh wonders when the European Central Bank will start to taper interest rates.
  • The Frailest Thing warns that the promises of tech giants to free people from the shackles of the past should be seen critically.
  • On St. Patrick’s Day, Joe. My. God. and Michael in Norfolk both note the extent to which attitudes towards GLBT people in Ireland have changed.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money wonders about the good sense of going off of anti-depressants.
  • Marginal Revolution’s Tyler Cowen proclaims Scarborough to be one of the world’s best food cities.
  • Savage Minds makes the case for anthropologists to aid the post-cyclone people of Vanuatu.
  • Spacing interviews the NDP’s Thomas Mulcair on urban issues.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy’s David Bernstein is unhappy at the consequences for Israel of Netanyahu’s reelection, while Lawyers, Guns and Money looks at income disparities in Israel.
  • Window on Eurasia argues that high inequality and low social mobility in Russia will doom the country, notes the potential for water-driven conflict in Central Asia, and notes Russian interest in acquiring more slots of Muslim pilgrims after Crimea’s annexation.
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