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Betrayed After Bloodshed: The Unrequited Loyalty of Israel’s Druze Arabs

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The Druze Arabs of Israel hold a unique position within the complex socio-political structure of the country. An Arabic-speaking minority that follows the secretive, monotheistic Druze faith, they have traditionally been staunchly loyal to the Israeli state. Their commitment is evident in their participation in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), often voluntarily and with distinction, embodying the motto of paying with their blood for their loyalty.

Despite being only 1.5% of Israel’s population, the Druze community significantly contributes to the nation’s security. Since mandatory military service was imposed in 1956, Druze men have served alongside Jewish citizens, often in elite combat units. In fact, the Druze Arabs have one of the highest rates of enlistment and casualty rates per capita in the IDF.

Their fierce loyalty can be traced back to their philosophy. The Druze faith emphasizes loyalty to the country of residence, and for thousands of Druze in Israel, that means unwavering allegiance to the Jewish state. The Druze people believe in the principle of taqiyya, or dissimulation, enabling them to comply with the laws and beliefs of their country of residence easily. Hence, the deep-rooted loyalty to Israel.

However, despite the Druze community’s strong commitment to Israel, they often feel marginalized and discriminated against. This sentiment was accentuated with the passing of Israel’s controversial Nation-State Law in 2018, which officially defined Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, making no mention of minorities. This law was seen as a betrayal by many Druze, as it underscored their second-class status in a country they passionately defend. For the Druze, who have given their lives for their country, the law laid bare the stark dichotomy of their position – defenders of a state that denies them equal recognition.

The sense of alienation felt by the Druze community goes beyond the Nation-State Law. Despite their contributions to the state’s security, the community often struggles with underdevelopment and limited opportunities. The Druze villages remain some of the poorest in Israel, with infrastructural issues and a lack of basic services.

Furthermore, the Druze encounter obstacles in gaining political representation. While Druze politicians have held positions, the sectarian structure of Israeli politics often leaves them marginalized. Additionally, state funding for religious institutions predominantly goes to Jewish organizations, leaving

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