The Druze people are recognized in Israel as a separate religious and ethnic community. While the culture is Arab, and their language is Arabic, the Druze opted against mainstream Arab nationalism in 1948, and have since been actively serving in Israel Defence Forces, and it’s Border Police
The connection between Druze and Jewish soldiers is commonly referred to as “a covenant of blood” symbolizing the prosecution both communities faced throughout the years.
The visit began at the Peki’in village, with an overview of the Galilee region by Col. Ramiz. Maj Gen. Nehushtan then visited the cave of Rabi Shimon Bar-Yohai, followed by historical tour of the village.
At the tour, Col. Ramiz discussed the historical ties between Jews and Druze, and mentioned the protection Jews received from the Druze during the Arab revolt of the late 1930s. Later, Maj. Gen. Nehushtan was updated on the state of Druze soldiers, and their integration in the IDF in general and the air force in particular from the early days and in present time. Col. Ramiz told Maj. Gen Nehushtan that he is a second generation to be serving in the IDF, and proudly told about his son, who is now serving in “Golani” Brigade, an elite infantry unit.
Currently, over 83% of the Druze community aged 18-21 volunteer for service at the IDF, a ratio that is even higher than that of the Jewish sector. Druze soldiers received 106 honorary citations (Tzalash in Hebrew), honouring their acts of heroism. There are presently five Druze soldiers at the high Colonel Rank, both in infantry as well as intelligence units. The air force boasts 11 Druze Majors, one pilot, and four cadets at various stages of training.
“The air force did the right thing when it allowed Druze people into its flight academy” says Col. Ramiz. He also refereed to project “Blue Steel” that encourages members of the community to join the air force.
“This is the first visit of this kind to our village, and it demonstrates the appreciation of our contribution to the army”, said the head of the region. “As a community, we tied our fate and future to the fate and future of the Jewish community. We have demonstrated our commitment to this bond. I will be delighted to see the young members that are here with us today, one day graduating from the IAF flight academy”, he concludes.
“This is one of the most emotional visits I ever had”, said Maj. Gen. Nehushtan. “It is a great honour for me to be here. The Druze community is a symbol of excellence, commitment, and sacrifice. The high rate of recruitment in your community, excellence, and great achievements during the service are a source of pride both to your people and the state of Israel. The covenant of blood between us is unbreakable. We are living through difficult times, both politically as well as financially. The only way to overcome these challenges is by working together – and this is perhaps the most important purpose of this visit: to demonstrate that we are in fact, together”.