druze pita makingThe Druze are an Arabic-speaking ethnoreligious group established in the 11th century CE in Egypt. Numbering more than a million, the Druze’s most significant communities are in Syria, Lebanon, and Israel.

The Druze living in Israel are unique among the local Arab communities for being loyal to the state. They serve in the Israeli Defence forces and have a unique standing in Israel’s political and military spheres.

The History of the Druze

The Druze faith stemmed from Shiite-Isma’ili Islam in Egypt during the 11th century. In 1017 CE, the Fatimid Caliph of Egypt, Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah, declared himself a prophet. He disappeared in 1020 CE, which his early followers perceived as proof of his divine nature. However, the Muslim authorities considered them heretics, so the Druze fled from Egypt and settled in mountainous areas in the Levant. Their Druze proselytized for only a short period, and since the 1050s, it has been closed to outsiders. In 1925, the Druze Leader Sultan al-Atrash led a revolt against French rule in Syria to form a Druze nation. Defeated at heavy loses, the Druze gave up their national aspiration. Instead, they adopted a policy of being loyal to the country where they live.

The Druze and Israel


A Monument in memory of Al-Atrash and the Druze revolt in 1925 is located in Majdal Shamsh, the Golan Heights.

In the 12th century CE, the Jewish traveler Benjamin of Tudela recorded the Druze in Galilee as mountain-dwelling warriors who sympathized with Jews, as both groups were persecuted. In the Israeli-Arab war in 1948, the Druze, in most cases, refrained from taking part in the conflict. Today, the Druze are unique among the Arab communities in Israel for being unequivocally loyal to the state. Moreover, since 1956, the Druze are the only minority conscripted to serve in the Israeli Defense Forces and the border police.

Over the years, the Druze developed a unique standing among the country’s minorities, and some of its members reached high-level positions in the Israeli political, public, and military spheres. New genetic research suggests a DNA link between the Druze and Ashkenazi Jews. As of 2020, about 120,000 Druze live in the Galilee, 20,000 in the Carmel, and 20,000 in the Golan Heights. For years the Syrian regime solicied the Druze in the Golan Heights to preserve their loyalty to Syria. However, in recent years, they are gradually acknowledging the Israeli sovereignty of the Golan Heights and its benefits.

Druze Tourist Attractions in Israel

The Druze villages of Isfyia and Daliyat el-Carmel, in the Carmel, are known for their local markets and restaurants. Especially on the weekends they get crowded with Israeli shoppers and diners. Kfar Yasif in the Galilee, which is mostly Druze, is also known for its shopping centers. Several Druze families offer home cooked meals for groups, as well bed and breakfast rentals in their villages. They are very welcoming and happy to explain threir unique history and religion. The holiest Druze site in Israel is Nebi Shu’ayb, in the lower Galilee. The site is a major Druze gathering site, and especially during their annual festivals, in late April.  Other significant Druze sacred sites are the tomb of prophet Sabalan in the Galilee, the tomb of Nabi al-Khadr near Caesarea-Philippi, and the tomb of Al-Ya’afuri in the Golan Heights.

A visit a Druze Village can be combined with a day tour in the north.

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