Likud party members, including myself, were not thrilled with the recent
election results. But for the first time, the Likud received more minority votes
than Labor or Meretz. This dramatic reversal, which has not occurred since the
creation of the State of Israel, will be etched in the country’s leaders’
memories for many years to come.
The Likud received 20,000 minority
votes, mostly from the Druse community. Labor received 14,000, Meretz 12,000,
Kadima 10,000 – and if I had been higher up on the list, it is likely that the
Likud would have fared even better.
Minority Likud candidates, especially
among the Druse, lacked the funding available to Labor, Meretz and Kadima
candidates who ranked higher on their parties’ lists.
tendency among minorities to vote for leftwing parties, apparently my thorough
work helped bring about this change in spite of harsh criticism coming from the
Arab parties.The Arab parties that recognized my potential did not attack any
candidates from the Zionist parties and concentrated on supporting us. MK Gideon
Sa’ar recognized my potential to bring in 15,000-20,000 minority
Israel’s minority population is made up of various groups: Sunni
Muslims, Druse, Christians, Beduin, Circassians, Alawites and Samaritans, which
together amount to 1.7 million of the 8 million people living in Israel. Some
700,000 of them have voting privileges, and 375,000 exercised this right in this
past election. 300,000 of these voters voted for Arab parties and the remainder
voted for Zionist parties. Ninety-five percent of Druse voters voted for Zionist
parties, which is also typical of the Circassian, Samaritan and Alawite
On the other hand, the Sunnis, Beduin and Christians mostly
voted for the Arab parties.
I focused on each group in the Arab community
separately, with increased focus on the Druse and Beduin communities, and as a
result, the Likud received a much higher number of votes from these
ONE NEEDS to remember that the Druse people believe they are
the descendants of Yitro, Moses’s father-in-law.
The Druse believe that
they served as high priests in the first and second temple periods and that
hundreds of years ago, they were the first ones to help the Jews and as a result
When Israel became a state, most of the Druse youth
volunteered to serve in the IDF well before there was an official draft. Since
then, hundreds of Druse have been killed defending Israel’s borders.
research study about minorities’ DNA that was carried out at the Technion in
Haifa shows that the Druse have similarities in their DNA to that of Jews, a
finding that has strengthened the belief that the Druse were at one point part
of the Jewish people.
There are numerous holy personages in Druse lore
that also appear in Jewish scripture: Jethro, Zebulon, Judah, Elijah, Job and
Druse live mostly in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and of course in
Israel. The Israeli national anthem was composed by Naftali Herz Imber in
Daliat-el-Carmel, the largest Druse village in Israel, and the government
established Beit Yad Labanim there as a memorial of fallen Druse
The outgoing Knesset has six Druse members, one of whom was a
minister. This granted increased power to the Druse community, which has
suffered from social discrimination, even though the percentage of Druse youth
who serve in the army is higher than among Jews.
Following the recent
election, the Druse community will have only one representative in the 19th
Knesset – MK Hamed Amer from Likud Beytenu – which has been a tremendous
disappointment for Druse youth. As a result, many articles against the
government have been published, and this could even affect the Druse youth’s
morale and attitude toward serving in the IDF.
THIS IS the time to call
upon Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to appoint a Druse minister in his
government and thereby reduce tensions and prevent the Arab parties from trying
to bring the Druse over to their side. We must not let the Druse and other
minorities for whom the future and safety of the State of Israel is important to
feel that they are only good for cutting down trees and drawing water. This
could rip apart the pact between the Druse and Israel, a situation that Israel’s
enemies would thoroughly enjoy.
Israel’s minorities are torn between two
worlds; on the one hand, they recognize that civil rights in Israel are
respected as opposed to the situation in Arab countries, especially since the
Arab spring. On the other hand, minorities in Israel can see that the villages
of Druse, Circassian and Beduin, all of whom serve in the IDF, are even more
neglected than other Arab villages. In other words, equality for all people
living in Israel, which was a part of the original vision of the founders of the
state, has not been achieved.
Affirmative action needs to be implemented.
Druse need to be represented in each Knesset, as Ze’ev Jabotinsky aspired to
when he said, “I hope that one day a Jew will be prime minister and a non- Jew
deputy, and vice versa.”
If this were to occur, it would change world
public opinion of Israel and counter those who claim that Israel is an apartheid
Minorities are clearly represented in all of the dictatorships in
the region, yet Israel, which is considered liberal and open, is behind in this
area as a result of internal party politics. The absurdity in this situation is
that Druse command entire divisions in the army and participate in the most
significant security decisions, yet when it comes to government participation,
there is no place for Druse.
This untenable situation should be keeping
all the party leaders awake at night.
There needs to be a new legislative
initiative that would ensure proper representation in the Knesset by Druse and
other minorities in Israel, especially among the communities that desire a
strong Israel that will last for many generations to come.
The author is
a former deputy minister for regional development.