Fear for the Druze—or for Assad?
16 July 2015
By Diana Moukalled
Lebanese politician Wiam Wahab's recent warning regarding the possibility of
the Druze seeking refuge in Israel to escape the takfirist threat did not
provoke the ire of the anti-Israel resistance ranks, whether on the media or
the political level. Wahab, who has appeared on several TV channels yelling
and threatening since the Al-Nusra Front killed 30 Druze in Syria, said:
"When people sense danger, they'd even go to the devil"—meaning Israel.
His statements went unnoticed, just like the statements of Rami Makhlouf, the
Syrian businessmen and Bashar Al-Assad's cousin, once did. Makhlouf had at
the beginning of the Syrian revolution said that Israel's security will be
threatened if the popular uprising is not restrained in the country. Wahab's
statements were not considered to be issued by a "foreign agent" and were
thus met with consent, just like Makhlouf's statements were met back then.
During the four years separating the two remarks, so-called anti-Israel
resistance figures have made plenty of statements that profess enmity to
Israel when in fact they harbor other intentions.
The truth is that the Israeli media has been abuzz with talk of concern over
the Druze situation in Syria.
This concern was marketed as worry over the fate of Syrian Druze who are
closely connected to Israel's own Druze community. Israeli military
preparations and further security measures in the Golan Heights have now been
Arab media followed up on this propaganda campaign by Israel and the
resistance who also used its media outlets to exaggerate fear of takfirists
and to warn of a potential massacre of the Druze. It is as if we are back to
square one four years ago: stability is linked to the survival of
authoritarian repressive regimes whose interests intersect with those of
There is no doubt that the recent developments have brought back questions
regarding the situation of the Druze minority in Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and
Jordan. What one group of Druze went through in Syria has directly affected
the Druze of Lebanon and Israel.
This brings into question the idea that in order for minorities to feel
secure they have to remain loyal to authoritarian regimes.
We must not make the mistake of undermining the threat which takfirists pose
to minorities. However, one should not forget the risk posed by authoritarian
regimes, like the Ba'athists in Syria, who use minorities as a means to
protect themselves. The Syrian regime's exploitation of these minorities
threatens the latter's existence just as much as the takfirists do. This is
not to mention that the Syrian regime has always used scaremongering over
takfirism to gain legitimacy. Israel adds a new factor to the scene and
complicates the whole situation. That Druze clerics have appeared on Israeli
television channels to accuse Tel Aviv of negligence to protect their
co-religionists in Syria is a new indication of the extent to which
fundamentalists from both camps, the anti-Israel resistance and the
takfirists, have pushed us and of how far the Syrian regime can go to employ
the Israel card.
Diana Moukalled is a prominent and well-respected TV journalist in the
Arab world thanks to her phenomenal show Bil Ayn Al-Mojarada (By The Naked
Eye), a series of documentaries on controversial areas and topics which airs
on Lebanon's leading local and satelite channel, Future Television. Diana
also is a veteran war correspondent, having covered both the wars in Iraq and
in Afghanistan, as well as the Isreali "Grapes of Wrath" massacre in southern
Lebanon. Ms. Moukalled has gained world wide recognition and was named one of
the most influential women in a special feature that ran in Time Magazine in