Guardian misleads on Israeli Druze, part 1: False claims

Phoebe Greenwood’s May 31 report in the Guardian, ‘Golan Heights braces for war as tensions rise between Syria and Israel‘, contained two false claims regarding Israeli Druze in the Golan Heights town of Majdal Shams. (An additional post will fisk the broader misleading narrative advanced in Greenwood’s report.)

A brief summary of Majdal Shams and the Druze population in Israel

  • Majdal Shams is one of the four Druze communities in the Golan Heights, with a population of about 9,000.  The town sits high on the slopes of Mount Hermon.  
  • Golan, captured by Israel during the Six Day War in 1967, was effectively annexed when the state extended Israeli law to the territory in 1981.  Israel offered all the Druze people living there citizenship—an offer most turned down. However, they all carry Israeli ID cards.
  • Most Druze in Majdal Shams have family on the Syrian side of the border.
  • There are roughly 1 million Druze in the world, mostly in Israel, Syria and Lebanon.

Factual errors in Greenwood’s report:

False population statistics

Greenwood makes the following claim:

The Golan Heights is home to more than 80,000 Druze…

This is not accurate.  There are only 41,800 people living in Golan in total, of which 20,300 are Druze according to the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics.

Mischaracterization of the Druze religion

Greenwood makes the following claim: 

[Druze represents] an esoteric Islamic sect whose insular, self-governing communities are accommodated by governments across the Middle East.

Greenwood’s claim that Druze is an “Islamic sect” is also flatly untrue. Druze is a unique monotheistic faith which emerged during the 11th century from Islam and consider their faith to be a new interpretation of the three monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam.  In addition, Druze incorporates several elements of Gnosticism, Greek Philosophies and other ideologies. The Druze community in Israel is officially recognized as a separate religious entity with its own courts (with jurisdiction in civil matters), and spiritual leadership. The Druze religion is secret and closed to converts.

Whilst the second post we’ll publish on Greenwood’s report will detail the misleading narrative regarding the political views of the Druze of Majdal Shams, these last two specific claims noted above are unambiguously false and not open to interpretation. 

19 replies »

  1. Characterising Druze as being part of Islam is probably extremely offensive to the Druze as well.

    Disgraceful. The BBC should know better.

  2. How can a reporter for a so-called quality newspaper get the simple facts so wrong? Does the Guardian assign its most incompetent staff to report on Israel, or the most shamneless liars?

    Perhaps we will never know.

  3. The Golan cannot be annexed by anyone without:

    1) the agreement of its people (armed squatters not included)

    2) agreement of neighbouring states (Lebanon and Jordan, probably also Turkey and Iraq).

    Nothng like that is going to happen and anyone holding Israeli citizenship who has a family there is practicing reckless endangerment and probably using their own children as human shields.

    • Turkey and Iraq?
      Heck, “Palestine” and Egypt are closer to the Golan than Iraq or Turkey.

      wonder if your knowledge of international law is as good as your knowledge of Geography?

      • And another thing Nickadler, The Golan is closer to Saudi Arabia than to Egypt and both are closer to the Golan than the golan to the Syrian city of Hammah.

      • You’re quite right – Egypt also would have to agree if Israel were to be allowed to annex the Golan heights. (Just as they agreed that Jordan be given the West Bank, at least as “trustee”, in 1950).

        That’s not going to happen either, the Golan will remain under an occupation from which Israel is compelled to withdraw. No valid title can be acquired by anyone, and any settler putting your family there looks like reckless endangerment of their kids.

        • It was pretty reckless for my grand parents to leave europe in the early 30’s to the swamps of the British mandated Palestine.

          Mind you, I guess i wouldn’t be around if they hadn’t thanks to the civilised Europeans.

        • nickadler: “any settler putting your family there looks like reckless endangerment of their kids.”

          We can read this sanctimonious left-wing bullshit two ways. Nick has no sympathy when Jewish kids are murdered in Israel. Or living in a society where there are plenty of Nicks – ie Europe, will put your Jewish kids in the path of a malign, malicious European mentality, whose murderous intent and lust for Jewish blood has been satiated on many previous occasions.

  4. I am a druze citizin, lives in this part of the world and validate all the details Mentioned in this report

    • Can you tell us more?

      Can you also tell us how many Syrians were ethnically cleansed by Israel in 1967 – was it around 80,000?

      • It was closer to 80 million – don’t underestimate us please….
        Nick sadly you are giving a brand new horizon to the expression “a dumb Jew hating loser”.

        • I’m sure Hitler thought it was a joking matter to throw 600,000 Jews out of Germany.

          And aggress his neighbours in the name of “Lebensraum”.

  5. Hitler aggressed his neighbors? With the help of the Nazi Wunderwaffen everything is possible. Naturally the neighbors digressed without a fight.
    I’m sure Hitler thought it was a joking matter to throw 600,000 Jews out of Germany.
    File under Nick the Great Historian.

    • Hitler invaded a neighbouring country and seized half of it.

      He sent his planes over the capital of this neighbouring country and bombed it.

      I trust you condemned him and your country declared war on him for this aggressing of his neighbours?