As ISIS advances in Syria, Israel tightens its grip on the Golan Heights

The Economist: IS’s advance is prompting the 20,000 Druze who inhabit the Golan Heights, alongside a similar number of Israelis, to shift their allegiance. For decades under Israeli occupation they professed their loyalty to Syria. But now, as adherents of an esoteric offshoot of Islam that IS and Jabhat al-Nusra excoriate, they are quietly loosening their ties to Syria. They have stopped exporting their apples there—and their brides. Druze applications for Israeli citizenship have risen sharply, says the Israeli-appointed mayor of Majdal Shams, the biggest of the four Druze towns. Many Druze now look to Israel (and particularly to its Israeli Druze soldiers stationed on the heights) to protect their secular world, where women walk and drive their cars unveiled.

This raises the hopes of those in Israel’s hawkish government who want to extend the annexation of the Golan Heights indefinitely. Whereas a more dovish Israeli government in 1999 came close to a land-for-peace deal with Syria, few Israelis nowadays contemplate such a thing. Indeed, Israel’s current leaders often remind their voters how vulnerable Israel would have been to the threat of jihadists if its border with Syria had been realigned along the shore of Lake Galilee, as was mooted.

An army division, newly equipped with drones, and a new iron fence, are meant to secure the border. The nearby vineyards look set to provide Israel with excellent, if expensive, wine for some years to come.

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