Druze people take part in a rally over U.S. President Donald Trump's support for Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, in Majdal Shams near the ceasefire line between Israel and Syria in the Golan Heights March 23, 2019.
(photo credit: AMMAR AWAD/REUTERS)
On Sunday, Syria’s Sana state news agency celebrated the few dozen protesters who gathered on Saturday in Druze villages throughout the Golan Heights. It claimed that they gathered in Buq’ata, one of several Druze towns in the Golan. The photos published in Damascus show some men waving Syrian regime flags and ostensibly protesting the US decision to recognize the Golan as part of Israel.
Protesters included men from Majdal Shams, Masa’ada and Ein Qiniyye – the other major Druze towns and villages on the Golan. “They affirmed their adherence to their Syrian identity and to their homeland, and that they will remain in their lands and homes, which the Israeli occupation seeks to seize by force,” Sana claimed. The people of the occupied Syrian Golan denounced US President Donald Trump’s declaration about the Golan, saying it is void and meaningless, and asserting that the Golan is an integral part of Syria.”
This is the Syrian regime narrative, but the situation is more complex. Annexed in the 1980s, the Golan Druze can receive Israeli citizenship. However, Israel Hayom reported that in 2017 only 69 Druze sought citizenship, compared to 183 in 2016.
Druze villages and towns in the Golan were able to vote last year for the first time in municipal elections, but only a few hundred turned out to vote from a population of almost 30,000, according to reports. This illustrates a community that does not turn out in large numbers either to vote in Israeli elections or to protest against decisions regarding the Golan, preferring a middle path, despite what the Syrian regime seeks to claim.
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