New Article: Halabi, Invention of a Nation: The Druze in Israel

Halabi, Rabah. “Invention of a Nation: The Druze in Israel.” Journal of Asian and African Studies 49.3 (2014): 267-81.





Ethnic and national identities are shaped and evolve in the context of complex negotiations sustained among multiple players, each with its own and often contradicting interests. This study focuses on one unique cultural group, the Druze in Israel, and examines a multifaceted identity constructed as a direct result of policies and expectations of members and institutions of majority groups. My aim is to explore how this identity is defined within the complex intergroup context, the various components and their inter-relations (congruent or conflictual), and the way its boundaries are shaped through interaction with other identities in Israel. The analysis of the interviews conducted with 50 Druze university students in Israel yielded three major content categories: ‘Druze by blood;’ ‘Arab, but less so;’ and ‘Being Israeli.’ The Druze identity is constructed in primordialist terms, and a central role is assigned to the belief in reincarnation. The Arab identity is categorized primarily as a national one, and it is strongly affected by the negative attitude of Arabs toward the service of the Druze in the Israeli army. Three major aspects emerged in relation to the Israeli identity of the Druze: the fact of their being citizens of the State of Israel, the attitude of the state and of Jews toward them, and the army service. Our study portrays a highly complex and problematic constellation of group identities, shaped as a delicate adaptation to the unique position of a group subject to multiple political forces in the past and present.

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