Druze Society in Transition
Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

Druze Society in Transition

For many years, the JCPA has been working with leading members of the Druze community to help this community help themselves acquire a more equal position in Israeli society and to handle their own specialized social problems. To this end we have together developed and implemented an unprecedented, multi-faceted program in which Druze leaders active in education and local government are an integral part. To date, this program has included the following activities:
  • Publication of a 60-page booklet in Hebrew, The Druze in Israel, explaining the history, religion, culture, traditions, and contemporary social aspects of the Druze community, to provide young Jews with greater background knowledge. Written by Dr. Nissim Dana, the booklet was published in 2000 in cooperation with the Israel Information Center of the Prime Minister's Office.
  • Publication of a special report in Hebrew and English on The Israeli Druze Minority in the Mid-1990s by Prof. Gabriel Ben-Dor
  • Organization of the first-ever nationwide conference on "The Druze Educational System" BOOK PHOTO
  • Organization of a nationwide conference on "Israel's Druze Community: Toward the 21st Century" and publication of the conference proceedings in Hebrew
  • Conducting the first-ever Survey of Higher Education in the Druze Sector and publication of the findings in Hebrew and English
  • Formation of a Steering Committee for Promoting Higher Education, which is seeking ways of overcoming the linguistic-cultural disadvantages faced by Druze students when taking the pre-university psychometric examinations
  • Sponsorship of a series of talks by Druze role models speaking at Druze high schools on the importance of higher education
Ongoing Activities: Activities currently underway as part of this program include measures to increase Israel's Jewish population's awareness of the Druze community:
  • Organization of a nationwide lecture series by Druze leaders in Jewish high schools on the culture, traditions, problems, and challenges of the Druze community
  • Publication of a booklet in Hebrew for dissemination in high schools, within the army, and among the general public to provide young Jews with greater background knowledge of the Druze community. This booklet is being disseminated to all high schools and public libraries in Israel at no charge.
  • From May to July 1998, JCPA conducted a pilot project designed to train social workers working in the Druze sector to enable them to better deal with the special problems in this community. These problems arise as the very traditional Druze society undergoes pressures for change as it meets modern Israel society and seeks to integrate into that society. Special problems arise involving the Druze family and the place of women in modern society as an increasing number of Druze women enter the workforce and/or pursue academic degrees. A high incidence of birth defects and retardation among children has been noted as a result of marriage among close relatives, which is common in the community. Particularly difficult problems arise for war widows in this strongly patrilineal society, where a young widow who remarries loses custory of her children to her former husband's family.
Grant-providing institutions that have supported various facets of JCPA's "Druze Society in Transition" program include the Jewish Federation of San Francisco, the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, the Jewish Agency for Israel, the Milken Institute, and the Israel Government Information Center.