A member of the Druze community uses binoculars to watch the fighting around the village of Hader, in Syria, from the Israeli-occupied side of the Golan Heights, June 18, 2015.
The momentous announcement came on Nov. 3. For the first time, Israel warned publicly that it would intervene militarily in the war in Syria. “The army is prepared and ready to help the residents of the village [of Hader],” announced the spokesperson for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). “It will prevent the occupation of the village or any attempts to harm it, out of a commitment to its Druze population.”
Hader is a Druze village on the eastern slopes of Mount Hermon, about 2 miles inside Syria, in Quneitra province. The Israeli announcement instilled a sense of calm and restored relative quiet in the Golan Heights. At the same time, however, it introduced an entirely new situation to the region. Military action by Israel in Syria is now a possibility.
That Israel has not been sucked into the Syrian war, which has raged across its northern border for the past six years, is a first-rate strategic achievement. Israel’s government has somehow managed to remain outside the circle of bloodletting despite the frequent drizzle of mortar and artillery fire onto the Israeli side of the Golan Heights, despite the veritable War of Armageddon being fought along the border of the Golan Heights between various rebel groups, despite the reported increase in Israeli aerial attacks on arms convoys from Syria to Hezbollah, and despite at least two attempts by Hezbollah to open a second frontagainst Israel on the Golan Heights. It did this while maintaining its capacity for deterrence on the one hand and by sticking to the red lines that it established on the other. That is no small feat.
There have been calls in Israel to intervene militarily in response to events in Syria. These intensified after reports of chemical weapons having been used against civilians and of a crematoria maintained by Bashar al-Assad’s government in Damascus to dispose of the bodies of regime opponents. All the calls went unanswered. Israel demonstrated that it was determined to remain far from the conflict, unless the red lines set by the Cabinet were crossed, or in other words, unless tiebreaking weaponry is transferred from Assad’s armories to Hezbollah.
The Israeli taboo was broken for the first time on Nov. 3, and it was because of the Druze. The residents of Hader are loyal to the Assad regime. The Druze constitute a small minority in many Middle Eastern states, and their strategy for survival has been simple: loyalty to the central government. The Druze in Israel have a blood alliance with the Zionist state, which considers them its most loyal citizens and its bravest soldiers. Military cemeteries are filled with the graves of Druze troops who fought in the IDF. At the same time, Israel has a firm and longstanding commitment to its Druze population.
There are also strong bonds between the different Druze communities in the Middle East. Israeli Druze are close to their brothers and sisters in Syria, and in many instances belong to branches of the same extended families. These relationships have resulted in a strange situation, whereby an Israeli Druze loyal to the government of Israel can be a close relative of a Syrian Druze loyal to Assad. When Israel and Syria are at war — their de facto status since Israel was established in 1948 — these same Druze can find themselves on both sides of the divide. They each remain loyal to their respective states, but at the same time to their community and family.
Rebel forces, mainly from Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, the al-Qaeda affiliate formerly called Jabhat al-Nusra, attacked Hader on Nov. 3. The operation began with a car bomb and a suicide bomber, killing at least 10 residents and wounding dozens more. Among the victims were six members of the family of Kulanu Knesset member Akram Hasoon. The news from Hader spread quickly among Druze villages in Israel and on the Golan Heights. Dozens of Israeli Druze streamed toward the border fence on the Golan Heights, with the goal of bursting through it to defend their brothers and sisters in Hader. The IDF invested considerable energy in blocking the wave of Israeli Druze about to storm the fence. They even chased down some 10 men who had managed to get through the barrier and began charging toward Syria. For a few hours, it looked like Israel was losing control of a rapidly deteriorating situation.
Meanwhile, Israel announced that it would not hesitate to intervene and would not acquiesce to the capture of or any harm to Hader. The public statement had the desired effect. The Jabhat Fatah al-Sham assault was blocked and dispersed by local fighters, and Hader residents were able to regain control of the routes leading to the village. Tensions have since decreased, but the Golan Heights front is still seething, and the Assad regime is trying to establish control along the Israeli border.
In Israel, people have noted that things ended quietly this time, but no one has any illusions about what lies ahead. “It could happen again,” one high-ranking Israeli security source told Al-Monitor on the condition of anonymity. “It’s important for the other side to know that we have no plans to play games here. Israel’s statement is clear. We have a commitment to the Druze on the Syrian side of the border too. We will treat anyone who tries to harm them as if they hurt us.”
The current assessment is that Israel has no plans to take control of any territory in the region. The idea of establishing a security strip in Syria has been raised on several occasions, but rejected each time. Israel’s military superiority vis-a-vis all the other forces active along the Syrian front is so decisive, with its air force and various other special means available to the IDF, that no one doubts its ability to thwart any attempt to occupy the Druze village.
Thus, added to Israel’s firm red line on a Syrian transfer of tiebreaking weapons to Hezbollah, the world has now learned of another no less firm boundary: Don’t touch the Druze. Period.
The UN Security Council. Photo: Twitter.
American recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital should serve as a “reality check” for the Palestinians, the Jewish state’s UN envoy said on Friday, ahead of the start of a special Security Council session on the issue.
“President Trump’s declaration marks a milestone — for Israel, for peace and for the world,” Ambassador Danny Danon said.
The Palestinians, Danon further noted, “can choose violence as they have always done, or they can choose to join us at the negotiating table.”
“The Security Council must send a clear message that there is never an excuse for violence,” he declared. “Violence must never be used as a threat.”
The UN agency is currently dominated by the most oppressive regimes on education and culture. There is China, which recently let writer, poet and Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo die an agonizing death in prison, where he was serving an 11-year jail sentence for his support of human rights and democracy.
Then there is Iran, where a dean of journalism, Siamak Pourzand, committed suicide to avoid more persecution by the regime.”UNESCO has been hijacked and abused as a tool for the persecution of Israel and the Jewish people, while concocting fake facts and fake history, meant to… rewrite global history.” — Carmel Shama Hacohen, Israel’s ambassador to UNESCO.
Prague Old Town Square, Czech Republic. (Shutterstock)
In a sign of Biblical prophecy that the nations will gaze upon a unified Jerusalem with joy, and following US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital Wednesday night, the Czech Republic has said that it also recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish state.
“The Czech Republic currently, before the peace between Israel and Palestine is signed, recognizes Jerusalem to be in fact the capital of Israel in the borders of the demarcation line from 1967,” said a statement issued by the Czech foreign ministry.
A Palestinian protester holds stones during clashes with Israeli troops as Palestinians call for a “day of rage” in response to US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Bethlehem, West Bank, Dec. 8, 2017.
The next few days will show whether the Palestinian Authority (PA) is headed toward the kind of chaos that could result in the collapse of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ government, or whether the Palestinians will manage to contain their outrage over President Donald Trump’s announcement that he recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Afghan protesters shout slogans during a protest againstÊU.S. President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, in Kabul, Afghanistan December 8, 2017. (photo credit: OMAR SCOBHANI / REUTERS)
JERUSALEM – Thousands of Palestinians protested in a “day of rage” on Friday in the West Bank, Gaza and in east Jerusalem against US President Donald Trump’s recognition of the ancient city as Israel’s capital.
Across the Arab and Muslim worlds, thousands of demonstrators took to the streets on Friday, the Muslim holy day, expressing solidarity with the Palestinians and outrage at the US move.
The real national camp—and no, I’m not referring to Likud but to the camp pursuing a Jewish, democratic and incorrupt state—has an actual chance of returning to power.
About one-third of Likud voters are presumably fed up with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s way. It’s true that he’s made achievements. It’s true that the attacks on him were often vile, exaggerated hypocritical and filled with lies, mistakes, and manipulations. But no more. What could have been argued two or three or five years ago, quite rightfully, can no longer be argued today. Something has changed..
Over the last five hundred years, famous rabbinic leaders have called to limit the overwhelming authority of Rabbi Yosef Karo’s Shulchan Aruch and Rambam’s Mishne Torah. (1) They felt that these works do not reflect authentic Judaism and its halachic tradition. (2) The reason is obvious. These great codes of Jewish Law are very un-Jewish in spirit. They present Halacha in ways which oppose the heart and soul of the Talmud, and therefore of Judaism itself. They deprived Judaism of its multifaceted halachic tradition and its inherent music. It is not the works themselves which are the problem, but the ideology which they represent: The ethos of codifying and finalizing Jewish Law.
The New York Times published the Palestinian response to an alleged Saudi peace plan. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman reportedly presented it to PLO chief and Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas last month.
According to the Times’ report, Mohammed told Abbas he has two months to either accept the Saudi proposal or leave office to make way for a new Palestinian leader who will accept it.
Israel is celebrating the fortieth anniversary of the historic visit of Egyptian president Anwar Sadat to Jerusalem, that led to the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty. The move by Egypt, the largest and strongest Arab state, changed the dynamics of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Sadat violated the Arab taboo against good neighborly relations with the Jewish state and opened the way for additional peace agreements. The defection of Egypt from the Arab military coalition eliminated the option of a two-front conventional war against Israel and saved the Israeli taxpayer billions of dollars. The heavy price paid by Israel to Egypt was total withdrawal from the Sinai and removal of settlements. But, in retrospect, it worked out well, turning Israel into “the land had peace
Islamic world more than fifty years ago, when I became fascinated by the classes taught by my Arabic teacher, the late Dov Iron, in Tel Aviv’s Zeitleen high school. From the very first class in early September 1066, I realized that we are being exposed to a culture that differs in every respect from the one upon which I was raised. I realized that the Arabic language is the key to a whole new world, one that thinks, feels and behaves in a way that must be studied perceptively in order to be understood.