‘When our lands were taken we didn’t go to the barricades’

January 19, 2016  

In an interview with Arutz Sheva, Druze Zionist Council head Yosef Nasaridin expressed his anger with the leaders of the fight against the creation of a planned Druze community between Kibbutz Lavi and Tiberias.

Nasaridin explained the the creation of the community is a necessary response to the young Druze population, partly because “the last Druze community that was created in Israel was hundreds of years ago. Together with World Zionist Organization Chair Avraham Duvdevani, and after consulting with young Druze people, we came to the decision that the Druze community leaders are not succeeding in expanding the scope of the communities.

“God blessed us with our communities in that all are in parks and nature reserves, and all are enclosed, so it is impossible to expand the communities. Released soldiers return and want to build homes, but they cannot.”

Nasaridin added that, for the Druze community, tradition is important and because of this people do not leave their villages, families, and parents. The youths don’t leave the existing communities, and this requires a solution. “We are looking to find solution. One solution is to create a new Druze community.”

Responding to claims that they could have built the community in a different site, without using the lands of Kibbutz Lavi, he said that the Druze are located in three centers – the Golan, the Galilee, and the Carmel. Much of the housing problem is in the Golan and the Carmel, so the proposed solution was Khirbat Inbal, near Nahariya, but there is a quarry at the site “and you cannot set up a community next to it. We also tried by Avdon, but the land is very hilly and we would need to remove woodland trees. The third spot was next to Karnei Hitim, near the grave of Yitro. That location was planned to be an airport and the National Council would not approve of the plan, so we accepted the alternative that we were offered.”

Nasaridin expressed his anger over published statements opposing the creation of a minority community in a Jewish region, and casting suspicion on the national implications of such a move. He described his role as someone who wants to bridge the divide between Jews and Druze, and he does not like rhetoric which could distance Druze youths from their traditional identification with the State of Israel and its authorities.

The interview then turned to comments made by Yair Reimann to Arutz Sheva, in which he claimed that his views have no connection to the ethnic makeup of the population, but rather focus solely on the creation of a new community that will change the fabric of the local villages and the fact that the decision was mae without consulting people fro Lavi and Beit Rimon, whose farming lands were taken away.

Nasaridin stated that the community will not look urban but rather like a communal village. “The Settlement Division, through the Prime Minister Office, made the plan, and the National Council approved the plan 10 days ago. The opposition was only from archaeological and environmental people.”

As for the claims by members of Kibbutz Lavi, he explained that the State of Israel is the true owner of the lands, and it can and must decide what to do with them. “The lands belong to the Israel Lands Administration. This is not private land, and today there is a need to create a national item on this land which symbolizes the Druze attitude towards the grave of Yitro.

“In the several visits we had with the Settlement and Planning Division, no one told us that the land belongs to someone. Instead, they said that it was state land which was planned for an alternative airport and at the end there is an archaeological site,” he added. “The state has taken hundreds of thousands of dunams for settlement and security, and we did not go up to the barricades. Highway Six, power lines, water, and more pass through our lands. Anyone who feels harmed by the state or their neighbor can apply to the courts.”

And what about the future? Nasaridin does not think that the tension created now between those who are opposed to the plan and the Druze community will undermine their neighborly relations once the community is created. “We have no problem at all with Kibbutz Lavi or any Jewish communities. We only want a solution for the youths who are looking for somewhere to live.”

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