By Maxine Dovere/JNS.org –
JULIS, Israel—The enclaves of one of Israel’s most loyal and ardently Zionist indigenous populations lie not far from the coastal city of Acre. This community is no historical remnant—it is a modern group of Israelis whose service and sacrifice for the Jewish state is legendary. Residents are lawyers and doctors, entrepreneurs and merchants, teachers and engineers, and political activists. The community’s young men serve in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) with great honor, and its young women are beginning to enter national service.
That description applies not to one of Israel’s Jewish communities, but rather to the Druze village of Julis, one of the smallest of the Druze communities in northern Israel.
Makif, the village’s high school, sits at a high point in the village, providing an extraordinary view that extends all the way to Lebanon. As the school’s headmaster speaks, pictures on the wall to his right, of current Israeli President Shimon Peres and late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, seem to smile upon his words. The headmaster, Dr. Yousef Hassan,
says Rabin and philosopher Yeshayahu Liebowitz are his heroes. A red loose-leaf binder resting on his desk is filled with selections from their writings.
Education is at the core of the development of Julis’s future.
Click photo to download. Caption: The El-Mona Garden in the Druze village of Julis. Credit: Avishai Teicher/PikiWiki Israel.
“With both the boys and the girls, our aim is to make them good citizens,” Hassan tells JNS.org.
Hassan describes the high school’s development of Atsama, a program dedicated to the empowerment of women. Structured as an adjunct program to regular academic studies, it works with the young women of Julis to develop self-confidence and readiness for employment, and provides them with counseling regarding higher education, job training, and social services. Hassan notes that about 25 percent of Julis’s high school graduates continue to university, a percentage he is seeking to increase. Seventy percent of university students from Julis are women.
“The difference in the family of an educated woman is a distinct improvement of the family situation. Educated women have smaller families; the children of educated women are better educated,” Hassan says.
Druze history began in or around the year 1014, when the faith’s precepts were formalized by a group of scholars and leaders in Egypt. The Druze call themselves al-Tawhid, meaning “the People of Monotheism,” or al-Muwaḥḥidūn, “the Unitarians.” Their beliefs incorporate elements of Abrahamic religions, Gnosticism, Neoplatonism, Pythagoreanism, and other philosophies. The Kitab al-Hikma (Epistles of Wisdom) is their sacred