Netanyahu says Druze community ‘dear to heart’ after Ben-Gurion incident

President Rivlin says Israel has a ‘covenant of life’ with Druze which we must always be worthy of.

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August 5, 2019 00:23
3 minute read.
Netanyahu says Druze community ‘dear to heart’ after Ben-Gurion incident

Druze Sheikhs and supporters carry Druze flags in Beirut, Lebanon, September 2015. (photo credit: MOHAMED AZAKIR / REUTERS)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin and Foreign Minister Israel Katz all gave backing to Israel’s Ambassador to Panama Reda Mansour on Sunday, a day after he detailed in a Facebook post what he viewed as a humiliating security check at Ben-Gurion Airport.

All three leaders called Mansour, a veteran Druze diplomat who served previously as Israel’s consul-general in Atlanta and also as ambassador to Brazil, and praised him for his service.

Mansour wrote on his Hebrew Facebook page – but not his English/Spanish page – that the van in which he and his family were traveling to the airport was pulled to the side, and a scanner asked him questions and looked at his family in a way that made him “want to vomit.’

Netanyahu, according to a statement put out by his office, told Mansour that he has a deep appreciation for the way he represents Israel.

“The Druze community is dear to our hearts and we will continue to work in every way to strengthen our brotherly covenant with them,” the prime minister said.

Rivlin said it was impossible to remain “indifferent” after reading Mansour’s emotional post, and that even if the incident was currently being looked into, “what is important is what you feel, and if you feel that offended, then we need to address that. The covenant between us and the Druze community is a covenant of life. We must ensure that we are always worthy of it, and not just during times of crises and war.”

Katz, meanwhile, thanked Mansour for his dedicated service, and said, “I embrace you, your family and the entire Druze community. I will act to ensure that these types of incidents don’t happen again.”

Israeli Druze are the only minority in the country who are drafted into the IDF, while many members of the community volunteered for military service in 1948 during the War of Independence, and many others have risen to senior positions in the IDF ranks.

Mansour was supported on Sunday by radio presenter Shibel Karmi Mansour, who said he nearly fell out of his seat when he read the airport’s official statement, claiming that it does not have a security policy which is racially discriminating.

Shibel Karmi Mansour said he experienced discrimination when going abroad and that in other countries, like the US, all people are examined in the same way.

Also on Sunday, head of the Democratic Union Party, MK Nitzan Horowitz, went to Ben-Gurion Airport to record a video message, which he posted on Facebook.

“We all know Ben-Gurion Airport, but for some of us, this is a place of humiliation and burns their heart for the rest of their lives,” said Horowitz, describing Mansour as “one of the most dedicated workers” in the Israeli foreign service.

“He was humiliated in front of his family and children just because he is Druze, and this is what happens to Arabs and others too,” he said. “It’s called profiling, where they evaluate a person according to his appearance, [ethnic] background and religion and this must stop.”

The Democratic Union leader claimed that the incident was also connected to the contentious Nation-State Law, which large parts of the Druze community argue discriminates against them, and said that the law constituted “discrimination from above” which is what had hurt Mansour.

“The Nation-State Law turns people like Mansour into second-class citizens,” said Horowitz, and vowed to repeal the law once his party was in government.

Jerusalem Post Staff contributed to this report.


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