By Simon Fischler
This weekend a watershed event in Middle-East politics occurred.
The Druze community of the Israeli Golan Heights, led by their Sheik Taher Abu Salah, asked the Israeli government to allow their co-religionists living on the Syrian side of the border entrance and refuge in Israel!
It is of great importance that one understands the differences between the Druze of Israel, who are some of Israel’s greatest defenders and patriots, and the Druze living on the Israeli Golan Heights.
The Druze of the Israeli Golan Heights lived in what was then Syria, until 1967 when Israel liberated the Golan in the Six-Day War. Until the Syrian civil war began two years ago, 90% of the Golan Druze kept allegiance to Syria and even had Syrian citizenship, despite also living comfortably in what was now part of Israel.
However, this continued loyalty to Syria was built largely on the fear Israel would eventually transfer the Golan Heights back to Syria for Peace, or at least that word on a piece of paper.
The Druze people and their leaders are no fools and know clearly what would become of them if the Assad regime viewed them as traitors. Does anyone need more information than 100,000-plus civilians killed in two years, the use of chemical weapons on a civilian population and the use of terrorist militias like Hezbollah to explain why the tiny Druze community wanted to maintain the appearance of loyal subjects?
Things have changed though: since the start of the civil war in Syria this once loyal group has seen a several-hundredfold increase of Druze youth requesting Israeli citizenship.
That alone is an historic event in the dynamics of Middle Eastern politics..
Things just got more exciting this weekend. Over 100 of the Golan Druze leadership and their Sheik, Abu Saleh, sat down with the Israeli government and formally asked for Israel to grant entry to the Druze population on the Syrian side of the Golan Plateau.
Almost as important as the meeting is the timing of this grand, Druze council with Israel -- ONE DAY after American Secretary of State John Kerry sat down with the Friends of Syria Front and worked out Western arming of the Syrian rebels.
This means the fighting in Syria will only get worse in the short term. The minor gains against the rebellion -- only achieved by the introduction of 5,000 Hezbollah fighters, Russian armaments and Iranian Republican Guard soldiers -- can be halted and possibly even reversed.
The Syrian Druze once enjoyed great safety and prosperity, not to mention very beneficial commerce with their brethren living on the Israeli side of the Golan Heights. Now this has come crashing down around their heads.
Whether they would openly admit it or not, this meeting and request to the Israeli government is an admission by the Golan Druze that Israel is their country and benefactor now.
It is a signal by the Golan Druze from both sides of the border (because this meeting would never have happened without the acceptance of the leadership on the Syrian side) that the illegitimate Assad regime can no longer protect them and they are in the market for Israeli protection. Lastly, and probably most importantly it means the Golan Druze would welcome an Israeli incursion and annexation of the whole Golan Plateau.
Blatant opportunism? Perhaps. But once the Druze people cement their allegiance, they are among the most loyal and patriotic on the planet.
The cards are now in the hands of the Israeli government. This is a moment wherein Israel should be equally opportunistic.. We must show the world why all those against Israel are truly nothing more than anti-Semites, by stepping in and assisting the Druze in their time of need.
It is time to welcome the majority of the Druze into Israel by annexing the whole of the Golan Plateau and setting up an autonomous Druze state under the protection of Israel -- from Majdal Shams into the Eastern Golan!
It is time to for Israel to put her cards on the table!