In 1967, Israel occupied the western section of Syria’s Golan Heights, expelling some 130,000 of its inhabitants and leaving a few thousand people scattered across five villages. Severed from Syria, this residual and mostly Druze community, known as the Jawlanis, has been subjected to systematic policies of ethno-religious identity reformulation and bureaucratic and economic control by the Israeli regime for half a century. This essay offers an account of the transformation of authority, class, and the politics of representation among what is now the near 25,000-strong Jawlani community, detailing the impact of Israeli occupation both politically and economically. During an initial decade and a half of direct military rule, Israel secured the community’s political docility by restoring traditional leaders to power; but following full-on annexation in 1981, new forces emerged from the popular resistance movement that developed in response. Those forces continue to compete for social influence and representation today.
From the BlogsMuna Khalidi–September 30, 2022English