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October 8th, 2010
11:37 AM ET

Israel grants hundreds of Druze passage to Syria for first time

CNN’s Paul Colsey filed this report from Jerusalem:

Israel has granted permission for 300 Druze clerics to travel to Syria, an Israel Interior Ministry official told CNN Thursday, marking the first time the Jewish state has allowed so many Druze to visit Syria for a religious pilgrimage and to visit relatives.

Said Mudani, representative for minorities at Israel's Interior Ministry, said the move came in a response to a request by Druze spiritual leader Wafaq Tarif.

The Druze group is planning to leave in the next few days for a week-long long visit to Syria via Jordan.

The Druze are an Arabic speaking religious community founded about 1,000 years ago. Approximately 18,000 live on the Israeli-occupied Golan heights, which were annexed in 1981.

The village of Majdal Shamps on the border between the Golan Heights and Syria is famous for the shouting valley, in which families from both sides would gather to talk across the border, the only means of contact in the past.

About 120,000 Druze live in Israel and there are communities across the Middle East, mostly in Israel Syria and Lebanon.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Druze • Israel • Middle East • Syria

soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. Shiluva

    The real fly in the ointment here is what are Hizbollah's miratalycipabilities. There are rumors thatIran has equipped them with rocketscapable of reaching Tel Aviv. Onecan only guess where this could goif Tel Aviv was hit by missiles.Right now Israel is limiting itsresponse to Lebanon but that is anold tactic and not very effective.Knocking out Syria and taking outthat Mashaal character might be amore logical way to approach thismatter as well as putting a realhurt on Hizbollah and I do meana hurt. Not punitive raids but anextermination campaign. Do it fastthough before the world can react.

    July 30, 2012 at 3:45 am |
  2. hm

    virgin druzes? syria? sounds like trouble's a-brewin'!
    hide the whiskey and the ouzo!

    October 11, 2010 at 5:50 am |
  3. huh?

    I thought there was only one Drew Carey....

    October 8, 2010 at 10:09 pm |
  4. Frogist

    Thank you, Israel for allowing what would be a minority religion in your state to follow their traditions and meet with their families. With this act you have shown your confidence in yourself as a humanitarian force that respects those different from the majority.

    October 8, 2010 at 6:05 pm |
  5. Reality

    Talk about being Bred, Born and Brainwashed in a very odd religion!!

    The Druze-

    "Relatively small Middle Eastern religious se-ct. It originated in Egypt in 1017 and is named for one of its founders, Muhammad al-Darazi (d. 1019/20). Strictly monotheistic and based in Islam, particularly Isma'ili Islam, Druze beliefs include an eclectic mixture of elements from Gnosticism, Neoplatonism, Judaism, and Iranian religion. The Druze believe in the divinity of al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah (985 – 1021?), sixth caliph of the Fatimid dynasty of Egypt, and expect him to return someday to inaugurate a golden age. The Druze are divided hierachically into two orders — the sages, who are fully initiated in the beliefs of the religion, and the ignorant, who const-itute the uninitiated lay majority. They permit no converts, either to or from their religion, and no intermarriage. Their religious system is kept secret from the outside world, and they are permitted to deny their faith if their life is in danger. In the early 21st century they numbered about one million, mostly in Syria and Lebanon."

    October 8, 2010 at 1:14 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.