ICEJ reaching out to loyal Druze

ICEJ Aid

Printer-friendly versionSend by email
Posted on: 
23 Jun 2011
ICEJ reaching out to loyal Druze

 

Among Israel’s diverse population, the Druze are a truly unique minority. They trace their ancestry back to the biblical figure Jethro, but left the Sinai deserts a millennia ago when the Muslim mainstream rejected their distinctive brand of Islam. Instead, they settled in the highland areas of Lebanon and northern Israel, where they have managed to survive centuries of Muslim persecution.

Today, the Druze community in Israel numbers about 120,000 people living on the Carmel range, the Golan Heights and other scattered villages throughout the Galilee. Most have tied their fate to the Jewish state, although relations become strained from time to time for Druze towns along the border with Syria, who have relatives on the other side of the fence.

Druze loyalty to Israel includes a communal decision to accept mandatory induction into the IDF. This stems from the pre-states years, when the Druze were caught up in the Jewish-Arab struggle over the land and the Jewish underground, the Haganah, assisted the Druze in creating self-defence networks against recurring attacks by Arab marauders.

Their consent to compulsory draft into the IDF is a great source of pride for the Druze, and these young adults are currently integrated into all IDF units. Yet the full equality that exists for every Druze soldier within the IDF does not extend back to civilian life, where the Druze do not always receive the same rights and benefits as other sectors.

So despite their patriotism, the Druze have not had easy lives in Israel and are in need of outside assistance to help level the playing field and pave the way to a better future. Thus, the ICEJ has decided to help the community financially, so that young Druze can have better chances of success in the areas of education and work.

To accomplish this goal, ICEJ AID has partnered with the Lt.-Col. Saleh Falah Association to provide support for Druze schools. This association was founded by retired Druze IDF officers in 2008 with the goal of investing in Druze youth before their enlistment in the IDF. It also helps demobilised Druze soldiers to become integrated back into civilian life, through academic scholarships and job and housing placement. It also assists poor families, along with the elderly and disabled in the Druze community.

The association has several dozen activists, mostly volunteers, and is financed solely by private donations.

ICEJ AID joined the association in its efforts to improve education in Druze public schools by raising an initial amount of NIS 100,000 (US$ 30,000). Half of this donation was invested in the main elementary school of the mixed Druze/Christian town of Maghar.

The project’s main aim is to raise the number of Druze teenagers acquiring a marketable diploma and continuing on to higher education. Key elements of the program include capital investments in computers and science labs and regular informal activities during the school year. Ten special study spaces were also built in Maghar, each equipped with a computer and book stand.

Meanwhile, some NIS 30,000 was donated towards university scholarships and the remaining NIS 20,000 was dedicated to social assistance.

Please join with us in continuing this very worthwhile outreach to the loyal Druze community of Israel. Give to ICEJ AID today at http://int.icej.org/

 

Share this: