A distinct ethno-religious group that resides primarily in Syria and Lebanon, with smaller communities in northern Israel
and Jordan. The Druze population’s religion stems from an eleventh century offshoot of Shi'a Islam, and originated in Cairo. Considered by the Druze to be a new interpretation of the three main monotheistic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) as well as incorporating elements from Gnosticism, Neoplatonism, and Pythagoreanism, the Druze religion is secret, closed to converts, and includes the notion of reincarnation. The Druze population in Israel in 2009 was 124,300. Unlike most other Arabic-speaking citizens of Israel, Druze citizens are required by Israeli
law to serve in the army. The Druze population in Israel maintains that they are discriminated against with regard to welfare services, development assistance and appointment to senior official positions. However, the vast majority of the Druze community in the Golan Heights
, which was captured from Syria by Israel in the 1967 war
, considers themselves Syrians (less than 10% have accepted Israeli citizenship) and are not drafted into the Israeli army. See "In the Golan Heights, Anxious Eyes Look East,"
Isabel Kershner, The New York Times, May 21, 2011.