Op-Ed via Al Jazeera English

The Druze and the nation-state bill

The passing of the "nation-state" bill last month, affirming the Israeli state's Jewish character and downgrading the Arabic language, has reignited a conversation among the Palestinian citizens of Israel especially with regards to their precarious position within the state. In particular, it has sparked intense conversations among the Palestinian Druze community in Israel. In addition to several resignations from Druze officers currently serving in the Israeli military. On August 4, 50,000 Druze rallied against the bill in Rabin Square in Tel Aviv waving both the Israeli and Druze flags. The image of the square flooded with the multicoloured Druze flag and the Israeli one side by side highlights the different relationship the Palestinian Druze community has with Israel to that of the other Palestinian citizens.

Following the creation of the state of Israel in 1948, the Zionist leadership sought to divide the surviving Palestinian community through notions of particularism - in other words, highlighting religious and traditional differences among them. The Zionists turned their attention to the Arabic speaking Druze community (the Druze religion developed out of Ismaili Islam with adherents concentrated in Lebanon, Syria and Palestine).

By 1948, some Druze had already been recruited to the Haganah under the promise of being able to harvest their lands - something denied to other Palestinians at the time. In 1956, Druze leaders agreed to a deal of compulsory conscription into the Israeli military in return for protection of the community as a minority.

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