Well – it seems we are having holiday after holiday here in Israel… people in the park, people on the street, and of course we just had Passover and Easter, but here's as holiday that you may not know much about!
The Festival of Nebi Shueib. This is a Druze holiday. The Druze officially have no rituals or ceremonies. Nor do they really have any sanctification of physical places. But in Israel they do gather at significant sites to discuss community affairs. Over time, these get-togethers have taken shape as a type of annual religious holiday. The Festival of Nebi Shueib is held at the tomb of Jethro, who was the father-in-law of Moses located near the Horns of Hittin in Galilee.
Most Druze villages are in upper and western Galilee. Also in the Golan and on Mount Carmel. There are actually about 40,000 Druze who live in North America. But it is hard to tell because it is a secretive faith.
According to Druze tradition, The Moslem conqueror Saladin had a dream the night before his battle against the Frankish Crusaders at the Horns of Hittin. In the dream an angel promised him victory on condition that after the battle he would gallop westward on his horse. The angel then promised that where his horse would stop – that he would find the burial site of Jethrol. When the dream came true, the Druze built a tomb at the site, next to which is a rock having a footprint upon it, believed to be from Jethro himself.
And speaking of wars, Israel honored the memory of the 22,570 men and women who have fallen in its wars. 'Remembrance Day' events began in the evening with a minute-long siren at 8:00 PM and a ceremony at the Wailing Wall. Then, the following day at 11:00 there are numerous ceremonies at the various military cemeteries throughout the State. The following day marks Independence Day – so the day of mourning becomes the day of celebration.
There were two interesting editorials that caught my eyes – one on Remembrance Day and one on Independence Day. The first suggested that Israel return to it's Declaration of Independence and remember that the right of all peoples to self-determination is the basis of Zionism. Those who try to deny national-self determination to a people – in the name of citizens' rights or in the name of a religious precept to settle in the land – are the greatest opponents of both Zionism and democracy. A loaded statement indeed… and apparently aimed at Israel's new Foreign Minister, the controversial Avigdor Liberman.
Onto the second, Independence Day, the second editorial said; “Everyone knows that even if the coming year will be an incomparably good one, there will yet be those who will pay the price for everyone, and thus it will be year after year until the day when the right of the Jewish People to its land is recognized.”
This writer must also be a supporter of Mr. Liberman who has said everyone must sign a statement of allegiance to the Jewish State.
It has been said that until a declaration of loyalty is formulated, it's possible to offer Mr. Liberman another document. For example, as we are talking about Israel's independence, why not give him the State's the Declaration of Independence? The Foreign Minister himself, could sign that document, but first a warning! In it one will find the term “equal rights for all”. This would include Jews, Muslims, Christians, Druze, Bahis, and the other religious representations here.
And to top it all off – tomorrow is May 1st – another holiday here. It is a hot topic over here with the economic crisis. Many workers complain that workers' rights in Israel are being eroded, especially by the growth of personnel agencies and independent, freelance employees just like in America. The threat here is that all of the labor movement's achievements, bar none, have been made thanks to the use of the power to unionize. The unions over here see May 1st is a good opportunity to reemphasize this – so – it's another day of people in the street on a holiday (or in some cases on strike) here in Israel.
Middle East Correspondent