UPDATE 9:00 am Israel time Friday:
A violent and confusing night in Judea and Samaria: there are reports that Israeli motorists had their cars struck by Molotov cocktails thrown by Palestinians, and a report that a Palestinian taxi carrying a family of four between Bat Ayin and Gvaot was hit by a Molotov cocktail “presumably” thrown by a member of a Jewish community–resulting in “moderate to serious” injuries to the family and driver.
PM Netanyahu has condemned the latter attack this morning (despite their being no evidence whatsoever as to who threw the Molotov), but has said nothing about the former. Your humble servant wonders why the Prime Minister never says anything about the daily Molotov and “rock throwing” attacks on members of Jewish communities throughout Judea and Samaria.
Egypt moved more troops and weapons into the Sinai yesterday–without first consulting Israel as required by the Egypt-Israel peace treaty. It should be added that two days ago Egyptian Islamist President Morsi specifically announced that articles of the peace treaty which deal with the Sinai will need to be “rewritten” in order to “ensure Egyptian sovereignty”. This comes on top of Morsi’s demands as a candidate that other sections of the treaty having to do with sale of oil and gas to Israel would also have to be “rewritten”. In your humble servant’s opinion, the days of the Egypt-Israel peace treaty are numbered.
The ridiculous news from the Sinai this morning is that Hamas is now “helping” the Egyptian Army track down the perpetrators of the massacre of Egyptian border guards at Rafah–ridiculous because some of those perpetrators were members of Hamas’ “military” wing which obviously had the blessing of the Hamas “political” leadership (there is, of course, no difference in the “military” and “political” wings).
As has been blogged for the last three days, we have just had the interesting experience of staying with a Druze family in Beit Jann and talking with Druze from many different walks of life. Today, I will briefly conclude my reportage of our trip to the northern Israel by giving two final observations about the Druze.
1. There is a tendency in Israel and elsewhere to view the Druze monolithically as having the same political and national allegiance. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Druze in the Beit Jann area are fiercely Israeli–all of the men serve in the IDF (the women do not serve, though there is a recent movement among Druze girls–yet to be approved by Druze elders–to try to serve in an auxiliary capacity). As I related several days ago, the man in whose house we stayed is a full Colonel in the IDF. The man in whose Peki’in restaurant we drank coffee served in Lebanon, the Sinai, and Gaza and was wounded twice. So is the story everywhere.
Druze families in this area proudly fly Druze and Israeli flags from homes, and they consider themselves Israeli is every way. Back to the family we stayed with: we were surprised to find out that their children are named Karin, Shiran, and Moran. When my wife asked why they had Israeli names, the wife simply answered: “They are Israelis.”
Nevertheless, the farther eastward and northward one goes into the Druze villages along the Syrian border, the more tenuous the connection to Israel becomes with many men not serving in the IDF, many children being sent to Damascus for schooling, and, in places like Majdal Shams, Syrian flags flying from virtually every home. The Druze in the Beit Jann area explain this lack of loyalty to Israel by saying that the Druze in the villages closest to the Syrian border are unsure whether those villages will return to Syria one day–and they are “hedging their bets.” Your humble servant wonders if this is really the case.
2. There is a tendency to think of the Druze religion as a part of Islam. It most assuredly is not. According to the Druze, they are distinguished from other religions by their prophets (their main prophets are Jethro, Moses, John the Baptist, Jesus, and Mohammed)–but the Beit Jann area has several shrines dedicated to various “minor” prophets (none of whom you will have ever heard of). When I asked a Druze man in Peki’in about the population of the town, he divided the town into four parts: Druze, Christian, Muslim, and Jewish.
The most striking theological belief of the Druze is undoubtedly their fervent belief in reincarnation–a subject that came up with every Druze we talked to during our short stay. Let me conclude this blog today with the story I alluded to several days ago–and I will write it “in the words” of the man who told it to me. Maybe it will give you some insight into the Druze:
“My IDF unit had just crossed the border into Lebanon in 1982. A younger Druze man from a nearby village was with me out on the point when we reached a position that was no longer on our maps. I really didn’t know which direction to go, and told him that I thought we should wait until someone could tell us where to go.
He then told me not to worry because he knew exactly where we were and that we should head northeast because he knew the country very well. I asked him how he could possibly know where we were and where we were going. I told him that we had both grown up in the same area and had never been to Lebanon in our lives.
Then the soldier told me that he had grown up in a town a few kilometers away from our current position and that he was the reincarnated spirit of his uncle who had been killed years before he [the soldier] had been born by one of the same uncle’s cousins–who had been subsequently protected from arrest by the cousin’s family.
And so we followed him as he led us in precisely the right direction straight to the village. As we walked in, some of the villagers saw him coming and began running away, screaming the name of the uncle who had died years before. Eventually, we rounded them all up (those who had run away were all members of his “family”)–and the soldier, speaking as his long dead uncle, forgave them for what they had done.
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