In honor of Israel’s Memorial Day, it is of critical importance to remember the sacrifices that the Druze community has made for this nation.
Today, the Israeli nation commemorates Memorial Day after the country suffered a barrage of 700 rockets which resulted in the slaughter of four civilians and damage being inflicted upon 21 homes. The Israeli people are still grieving, even though a cease-fire appears to have taken effect. At such a critical hour like this, when Israel is surrounded by hostile elements such as the Iranian regime who are actively working to harm Israel and to ignite an escalation in the conflict, it warms the heart to remember that the Jewish nation does have regional allies who care about Israel and one of those regional allies is the Druze nation. And for this reason, in honor of Israel’s Memorial Day, it is of critical importance to remember the contributions of Israel’s fallen Druze soldiers to this wonderful nation.
Recently, the Safadi Center for International Diplomacy, Research, Public Relations and Human Rights hosted an event in honor of Israel’s Druze citizens who sacrificed their lives for this country in cooperation with the Israeli cultural organization Mati. Mendi Safadi, who heads the Safadi Center, was accompanied to the event by former Druze MK Shachiv Shnaan who lost his son Kamil Shnaan in a Jerusalem terror attack on July 14, 2017.
During that particular terror attack, three terrorists opened fire on a group of police officers standing just outside the Temple Mount near Lion’s Gate. Shnaan together with Hael Sitawe, another Druze police officer, were hit. Both later died from their injuries. Sitawe left behind a wife and a three-week old son after he was murdered during his service in the Border Police. Shnaan did not even live long enough to get married and to have children. He was murdered after he just had signed up to be a career Border Police officer and was scheduled to have an engagement party for his girlfriend the week after his murder.
At the Safadi Center event honoring Israel’s fallen Druze soldiers, which was held in the US, former MK Shnaan lit a candle in memory of his son and declared to the audience, “I pray that there won’t be any more murders of people due to their faith and their religion. The communal bonds that ties the Druze people with the Jewish people in Israel also includes Jewish communities all over the world. America is the greatest and best ally of my country, Israel. You the American Jewish community are an incredible bridge that protects this important relationship. I turn to you and tell you to keep standing with us. If we remain united, we will remain strong. We are all in the same boat. I hope to strengthen ties between the Druze and the Jewish Diaspora. The coexistence and partnership between the Jews and the Druze started long before Israel existed. Let me tell you about myself. I was born to a family that paid a heavy price for their support of Zionism. In 1936, my grandfather was killed because he went shopping inside a Jewish market.” Former MK Shnaan also lost not only his son but also his cousin in the service of the country.
Indeed, both Sitawe and Shnaan served the country with love and sacrificed their lives for the State of Israel, even though neither of them is Jewish. They are not the only Druze citizens of Israel to do this. In 2014, Zidan Saif, a 30-year-old Druze police officer, was killed while trying to defend a Jerusalem synagogue from a terror attack. Four Yeshiva scholars were massacred in that particular massacre. Saif with his body managed to prevent a greater tragedy. He left behind a wife and a four-month-old daughter. The uncle of Israeli Communication Minister Ayoob Kara was also killed during the Arab Revolt of 1939. Another uncle of Kara was murdered by Arabs and two of Kara’s brothers were killed in battle in the 1982 Lebanon War.
To this day, out of all of Israel’s minority communities, only the Druze have demonstrated the depth of their love for the State of Israel by signing up for universal conscription into Israel’s armed forces and for this, we the Jewish people owe them special gratitude. As former Education Minister Naftali Bennett stated, “The Jewish people have an eternal bond with our brothers the Druze.” And on Israel’s Memorial Day, we should remember how the Druze nation has supported the Jewish people since the days of Jethro and the great sacrifices that they have made for the State of Israel.