Ever hear of the Druze?They are the Unitarians of Syria, Lebanon and Israel. A distinct ethnic community, the Druze are believed to be descended from Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses. In Israel, they speak both Arabic and Hebrew and, highly loyal to the country in which they reside, voluntarily serve in the Israeli army. The Jews consider them Arabs, so I don’t quite understand how this works.
Many things about Israel baffle me. For instance, I can’t quite grasp the distinctions between Zionism, Nationalism and Judaism. As a New York Jew, I have to admit I feel pretty safe from anti-Semitism. As a traveler, I certainly am aware of the hatred that exists against my people, and have even felt the sting of such hatred. However, I can’t help but wonder why Jews who choose to relocate to Israel feel safer in a place where suicide bombs are an actuality.
I asked our guide in Israel to help me understand the distinction between Zionism and Judaism. He said, “I am a Zionist, but not a religious Jew.” I rebutted, “So? Take away your Judaism, are you still a Zionist? All the Zionists I know are Jewish." Is this Nationalism, and not Judaism?
We agreed on one thing. The problem lies with extremists on both sides of the Wall.
Still I wonder, if the Druze can peacefully and neutrally exist in Israel, why can’t everyone else?