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.
Sens. Lindsey Graham and Bob Corker announcing the passage of the Taylor Force Act through the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in August 2017. Photo: Screenshot.
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The entrance to Auschwitz
Head of Poland’s Law and Justice Party
ul. Nowogrodzka 84/86 02-018 Warsaw, Poland
Dear Mr. Kaczynski,
My heart goes out to you over your dilemma to properly identify the mass extermination camps that the Nazis established on Poland’s sacred soil.
To call the camps Polish camps would suggest that Poland established them. This is clearly not true.
The NFL players at Shiloh: Right to left: Chris Harris Jr., Avery Williamson, Geoff Schwartz, Joshua Norman, Vic Beasley, Mitchell Schwartz (Photo courtesy Westray Communications)
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Protest against former Israeli minister Dan Meridor at King’s College London. Photo: Screenshot.
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The Board of Deputies of British Jews condemned some 50 protesters who targeted individuals entering and exiting a talk with Dan Meridor — a former deputy prime minister and minister of intelligence in the Israeli government — with loud chants of “shame” and “criminal,” according to video footage.
For the moment, an Israel-Iran nuclear war is logically out of the question. After all, Iran is not yet an operational nuclear power, and there is no point in presuming any possibilities for a scientific investigation. Nonetheless, in national survival matters, prudence should take innovative forms, and the July 14, 2015 Vienna Pact (JCPOA) concerning Iranian nuclear weapons will not constrain Tehran indefinitely.
In the very early nineties, the Democrats were as obsessed with cocaine as they are now are with Russia. The cocaine in question was alleged to have been bought by Vice President Dan Quayle. The 1992 election was coming up. The decades of corruption, slime, and lies by the Clintons were about to pay off.
President George H.W. Bush was enjoying high approval ratings. Bill Clinton would weasel and claw his way to the front of the line largely because the election seemed like a lot of cause for the Democrats.
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“The CDU retains control of the beautiful-sounding, but in fact powerless, Ministry of Economy, the unpopular Ministry of Health, the crisis-prone Ministry of Defense and the shadowy existence of ministerial posts in the Chancellery, for education and agriculture. That is little for the strongest faction in the Bundestag.” — Editorial, Münchner Merkur.
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On Wednesday night Israelis received yet another demonstration of the country’s desperate need for legal reform.
The media in Israel – like their counterparts in the US – tout themselves as democracy’s watchdogs. But on Wednesday night, we saw once again that our fiercest journalists are actually the lapdogs of our unelected legal fraternity, whose members share their hatred for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and their general attachment to the ideological Left.