Intermarriage among people of different religion has become a common phenomenon during the last two decades and in the past 50 years (Cohen & Spector, 2003) not necessarily in the Jewish society but also in the Arab one in general, and in the Druze sector in particular. The data are changed in the Arab society, for it is divided to sub ethnical groups who hold different opinions towards intermarriage, thus, among Muslims and Christians Arabs one can identify a mixed trend in attitude by both the women and men, while among the Druze society, the trend seems consistent, proving of gender inequality between men and women also in relation to intermarriages, hence, only Druze men dare to defy their society codes and marry women out of the Druze congregation and the local religious format.
The Druze congregation is unique and religious (Falah, 2016) a Druze by definition is, a person who is born to Druze mother and father. The Druze religion strictly prohibits its men to marry women from other religion or community and vice versa, a man who deviates from this principle is banned from the congregation, therefore, they are forced to abandon their village, their nuclear family, and their houses and to live outside the village. A study which was conducted in 1992 included more than 100 cases of Druze in an interracial marriage, 52 cases with Jewish women, 50 cases of marring Islamic women and 11 cases of marrying Christian women (Youssef, 2007) .
The questions this article seeks to determine are:
What are the implications of intermarriage on young Druze in Israel, and how these marriages affect the young Druze’s sense of belonging to the local society and to the environment?
2. Theoretical Background
Interracial marriage (intermarriage) is usually defined as a marriage between people of different religions, cultures, ethnicities or racial groups. It is a social phenomenon in which couples from different groups decide to raise a family outside the norms of their society (Collet, 2012) . These marriages place the couple out of their ethnic group, facing varied multicultural difficulties even within the extended family. The cultural transformation might isolate the couple from the family and to undermine the children’s identity as well (Faraj Falah, 2016) .
Intermarriage is a common phenomenon in most countries in the world, as a result, it creates a “new person”, furthermore, some perceptions support the notion that this “new person” who is a “product” of mixed cultures societies would not be sectarian or a racist (Hiersch, 2008) .
In many cases, intermarriage relationships suffer from interpersonal and psychological difficulties, the notion of “clash of cultures” often creates social barriers for integration, moreover, some people claim that it create weak genetic profile and cultural confusion, for growing between two worlds leads to identity confusion. Others, on the contrary, believe that intermarriage creates a stronger and healthier genetics, in which, people are more attractive (Edwards, Ali, Caballero, & Song, 2010) .
In France, the rate of intermarriage is extremely high due to the high rate of immigrants in the country and the support and belief of the French society in pluralism and equality, yet, the society does not always accept immigrants, even though they are married to French citizens, as full-fledged citizens. Therefore, only one of the spouses holds a citizenship and full civil rights, while the other spouse suffers restrictions in aspects such as accommodation, banking, political involvement, etc. (Collet, 2012) .
Despite the sense of rejection, most of the second generation in intermarriage perceive themselves as French and more, namely, ethnically belong to their parents’ country of origin.
These intermarriage patterns (in France) differ greatly than those of Israel. Social constraints have led Jewish men and women to choose intermarriage, a lack of Jewish women or local social patterns had led to civil marriage, not religious ones.
Since World War II, the phenomenon of intermarriage between Jews and non-Jews people has widely expended in the world, especially in the United States and the former Soviet countries, the racial relations have changed substantially as a result of several developments, as well as the growing awareness towards discrimination and the issue of civil rights, for example, “The African American National Association” for rights and annulment of school and public segregation in movies, TV shows, etc. These associations had begun to examine society values and the acceptance of the other and the issue of intermarriage. These modifications have laid the foundation for the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, in which, intermarriage has become common (Beltrán & Fojas, 2008) .
Among the Jewish nation, since middle Ages, and despite the worldwide immigration of Jews, they did not intermarriage, in order to maintain the congregation unit. Since the 19th century, especially in the second half of the 20th century, the Jewish communities have undergone mass transformations, in which he trend of intermarriage has become common. The modifications were created due to social changes in status and the process of urbanization, which had led to religious alienation in Europe. With the establishment of the State of Israel and becoming the majority in the country, the social trend has changed, the Israeli Jews had taking care of religious and social bonding. However, the state of the Jews in the diaspora, outside Israel, was different, for the Jews were a minority group in the Christian society, as a result of a relatively reduction in the natural growth and increase of death. Moreover, intermarriage was common in the former Soviet countries, especially among Jewish men to Christian women. These families had a secular liberal life style that had created a change in the 90ies following the mass immigrating to Israel, especially towards Judaism. It had led to social, cultural and political change in the State of Israel, for some of the immigrants were not considered Jews by the Jewish Law (Halacha), for many mixed families.
It should be noted that in intermarriages, one spouse makes a gradual transformation towards adaptation to the culture of his/her spouse, this transformation generally occurs by the spouse with the lower status, or in cases of immigration to another country, usually women are the immigrants. As a result, the social and cultural differences lead also to gender conflicts within the family (Faraj-Falah, 2009) .
Intermarriages between Jews and Christians around the world are more common, indeed, intermarriage in Israel has grown since the 1990s with the arrival of former USSR immigrants, yet, Israel had fought against these marriages in order to meet the religious Jewish laws, and to implement the Jewish spirit among those immigrants. As a result, intermarriage to non-Jewish spouse is illegal in Israel, thus, one of the spouses is forced to convert his/her religion, an act which has tremendous significance religiously and nationally in order to meet the Jewish codes otherwise it would affect the values of the Jewish religion and identity furthermore, there is a gap between the forma, legal position that demolishes comprehensively intermarriage and cultural norm of the ancient Jewish society since the period of the Bible, who treated women’s marriage to non-Jewish men severely. According to studies, the decision of most couples to live in Israel have increased their sense of belonging to Israel, highlighting gender roles in the family, especially the equality among the middle class, in contrast to the Russian society, in which women are responsible fully for the household and taking care of the children in addition to working outside home. In the Arab society the situation is similar in relation to domestic responsibilities, the intermarriage of non-Jewish men to Jewish women had changes the male stereotypes towards gender roles within the family, in contrast to the former USSR Christian women who are married to Jewish men and had immigrated to Israel under the “Law of Return”. These women have embraced an Israeli identity by supporting the army service or radical civil and political attitude against the Arab population, although in general, culturally and socially their attitude is liberal, for they prefer to be part of the Israeli collective (Pergola, 2003) .
In the Druze community, intermarriages are prohibited, and the Druze cannot accept this phenomenon, therefore, Druze who choose to marry a spouse out of their congregation, are forced to leave the village and to move to mixed cities, to be apart and alienated from their family and religion (Dana & Bar-Nizan, 2011; Ramnik & Tabashi, 2012) .
Due to the fact that Druze do not accept intermarriage, most of them do not leave their village, only few families live in cities with small Druze community or with non-Druze population at all. The marriage issue and the fate of their descendants has first discussed by the Druze Law in 1977. The attitude towards those men in intermarriage is hostile. Druze consider this kind of marriage sever religious offence, accompanied with a sense of disgrace and humiliation, as a result, one of the prominent findings prove of ending of the marriage after a short period, some are apart after decades. The majority of the Druze men who chose to end their marriage and to return to their religion and nuclear family in the village, claimed that their “leaving” the Druze society and religion were a direct result and lack of awareness to their unique identity. This group included also fathers that as a result of returning into their Druze roots had been forced to abandon their offspring and renounce them. The open interaction system in intermarried is relatively new and were unfamiliar to the Druze (of Israel) in the past. The exogamy causes braking up of relationships and weakening the ethnic loyalty. According to Druze leaders and religious figures, exogamy leads to separation, conflicts and contrast, endangering the community’s existence and uniqueness, for the Druze community already stands on less than 2% of the population of Israel. As stated above, the Druze community has not yet changed its attitude towards interracial marriage, it still blames the youngsters who choose intermarrying, violating the ethnic and religious endogamy, hence, many Druze youngsters prefer to avoid the religious and social ban. Thus, the number of young Druze in intermarriage is relatively small in relation to other Arab groups, such as the Muslims or Christians Arabs.
As noted above, the phenomenon is not widespread among the Druze community, although there is a trend of loosening of social and traditional boundaries due to the change in the employment structure (the friction with the Jewish population, working outside the villages and serving in various security services). From 1950 to 1990, 115 cases of Druze intermarriage were counted, 50 cases of marriage between Druze men and Jewish women, 46 cases of marriage between Druze men and Muslim women, 11 cases of marriage between Druze men and Christian women, and 8 cases that the women’s religion is unidentified.
The intermarriage between Druze men and non-Druze women can be divided into four groups. The first group includes 50 cases of intermarrying to Jewish women, a third of the Druze men convert their religion in order to avoid religious duplication in the family, whereas the other two thirds chose civil marriage or shared living in “Common Law Marriage”. The second group includes 46 cases, of intermarrying Muslim women. The third group includes 11 cases of intermarrying Christian women. The fourth group consists of 8 cases, in which it is hard to identify the women’s religion. During the last forty years there has been found 115 cases of intermarriage between Druze men and non-Druze he relatively large number of intermarrying Jewish women (more than half of the cases) is related inter alia, to the military service of the young Druze men and working in various security services, which provide plenty of opportunities to meet Jewish women/spouses (Trigger, 2007) .
In religious and economic terms, urbanization process gradually poses the traditional nature of the Druze society, with a tendency to assimilate and imitate their Jewish or Arab neighbors. As a result, the religious affinity is weakened and intermarriage has become a growing phenomenon. In remote villages of the Galilee, where the village population is of Druze population only, the problem is less evident than in those villages of the Carmel that are close to the mixed city of Haifa (Nasira-Din, 2002) .
3.1. The Research Method
In light of the background on phenomenon, the aim of this article is to examine these youngsters-men’s experiences in some aspects, from the aspect of the men. The study is aimed to explain their life experiences and perspective in their marriage to non-Druze women, who are called “sinners” for leaving their religion and community.
The chosen method is qualitative-phenomenological approach, a method which is well known to examine the importance of the experiences. The phenomenological approach fits the unique status of the population, which is socially and religiously neglected. This method was also chosen for it allows understanding and documenting the experiences of the participants, and the manner they perceive their world. Adopting of the qualitative approach enables tracing the consequences of exceeding the boundaries of endogamy in intermarriages, especially the religious and social isolation they live in for many years.
The study design is based on qualitative half-structured depth interviews, allowing studying the deviation from the endogamy norm of the Druze society.
3.2. The Study Population
The study includes 17 intermarried couples, who were recruited by relatives and acquaintances in the Arab communities, and in mixed cities in Israel, in 9 of the couples, the women are Jewish, 5 are Muslims, 2 are Christian and 1 is a Bahia. Despite the efforts, it was difficult to recruit Druze women who married non Druze men, due to a lack of balance between marriage pattern for men and women, and the strict rules towards intermarriage for Druze women. 15 couples have children, 2 couples without children, 12 couples have academic education, and thus, the spouses’ education is similar.
All couples describe that the relationship at the beginning was secret, a relation that had begun in the army or at the university or workplace, both spouses were afraid to expose their relationships. All men interviewees left their village, moving in with their woman in her city/mixed city. Neither of the men left living in his village or even close to his village. The interviews were conducted in the subjects’ home, 3 of the interviewees preferred to remain anonymous.
3.3. The Research Process
I applied the participants by phone, asking their permeation to participate my research; I introduced myself explaining the research goals in detail, so they would clearly understand the subject. After receiving their consent to participate in the research, we settled the time and place for the interview. They all preferred their home.
3.4. The Findings
The interviews created some interesting findings:
1) Meeting with the spouse: the introduction of each male-subject with his spouse was different, yet, they all share a common ground―they did not plan to meet the wife, surely not marrying her, for example, Suleiman describes his first meeting in this manner: “We were serving in the army together, she was a receptionist and I was the new lieutenant. At first, I couldn’t stand her, the feeling was mutual, until the ‘ice was broke’ and we found ourselves in love... I had a rented apartment in Tel Aviv because of the distance of my village from the military camp... We started dating and our relations got stronger. She finished her service and flew to Thailand for two months... and since then we’re together.” Yusuf describes that “There was no prior acquaintance, but I met her in the neighborhood in TLV, where I worked as a contractor... I renovated her neighbor’s apartment. Over time, we started dating; she was in the army so it was obvious that her parents were against this relationship... We kept going out until we decided to live together... and the rest is history”. Sami describes “I met her when I was an intern in Afula Hospital, she was the new nurse... From the first moment I lay eyes on her, I knew there’s something between us... We dated almost three years before we got married”. Magid says: “I met her in Officers Course (in the army)... We dated for two years and then rented an apartment together for another two years, then we have decided to get married”. Fuad describes complicated relationship “I got to know her during my military service... and after the service we had two-year break... I began studying Law in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and we started dating again... after two years we broke out, I returned to my village and got married... My marriage lasted three years and I eventually divorced... I’ve decided to go back to TLV... and then one day I bumped into her... She also became a lawyer... We started dating again for two years and then got married”.
2) The first period of the new marriage life: all the interviewees described the new life after the marriage as ordinary and calm, practically the same to the previous period-of dating, some of them describe it positively, as a really nice one, in which they felt it was the right thing to do, sooner the better. They describe living with their spouse before marriage. In relation to their nuclear family, they describe catastrophe, for example, Yusuf argues “My wife and I lived together before marriage and nothing has changed after it... My wife’s family treated me well, it seemed that they have reconciled with her choice, life was rather comfortable even though my family already troubled us... Not that there was not trouble before marriage, but after the wedding things have become extremely difficult. My family alienated me, especially my mother; she won’t speak with me for over 15 years. My father died, I came alone to the funeral after getting my brother’s consumption... I tried to talk with my mother but she refused seeing me”. Suleiman describes “There wasn’t significant change... Life continues and even improves when you have a child, beautiful as mine... The drastic change happened in my relationship with my nuclear family, I have some relationships with my two brothers, but my dad, mom, sisters and the second circle have nothing to do with me... They alienated me. First they threatened me that if I would marry, dad would cut me off as his son and mother would take the marriage very hard”. Magid thinks that “After I was married officially, my life was good in many aspects, also my future seemed good, yet, when it comes to my nuclear family, the relationship is a mess, my parents and brothers alienated from me... the situation is very hard for me”. Fuad describes “My relationship with my wife were proven, the sense that you have your own family is good and strengthening, the notion that you have married out of love... give her children... feeling that you live your life your own way... My parents, especially my mother seized our relations and no longer consider me her son, some of my brothers still call me and some refuse to talk to me. I was excluded from the heritance, this is fine with me, except for the fact that my mom has cancer and I can’t be with her... it hurts me tremendously”. Sami thinks that “In the martial plane there is no special change, my relation with my wife’s family is proven, they finally approve our marriage and there is no stress on her. But my nuclear family―my parents, sisters and brothers, uncles, the change is for the worse. I practically have no contact with them... Six months ago my uncle died, I wanted to come to the funeral but they refused”.
3) The difficulties and coping with them: The interviewees argue that every relationship suffers conflicts and difficulties. The interviewees have faced, more than once, the possibility of divorcing or separating; yet, they chose to face the problems and tension that follows intermarriage and children with two different religions, and to manage overcoming the conflicts. The interviewees specify the reasons for these conflicts as natural processes in family’s life, second factor is the relations with the wife’s family, another one is the immediate surroundings who believe the marriage is irregular, and also the men’s nuclear family once in a while. Interviewees noted that marriage involves many difficulties and sacrifices, which not everyone is able or ready to deal with. The interviewees had to make far-reaching concessions, for the return to the Druze community is extremely difficult, not to mention having a new family and the fear from separating it. According to them, leaving your family is far more difficult. The interviewees make great efforts to maintain the family balance; they are willing to make many concessions in order to avoid deterioration, separation or divorce. An additional source for conflicts for some of the interviewees is the issue of children’s education and identity; they claim that each of the spouses would like the children to adopt his/her identity, to entail his/her culture. For example, Yusuf describes “There will always be difficulties and rows... Family life is characterized by quarrels and declines... I’m trying to maintain the family unit as much as it is possible, especially when it involves children. My wife also makes concessions in order to preserve our family. Recently we had a quarrel about the children’s education, we have a daughter and my wife allows her to live free life, much more free than I’m willing to accept. I cannot imagine my daughter would not marry a Druze one day, but deep inside me I know what would happen”. Suleiman describes that “A month before he had a quarrel with his wife Shiran for he did not like the way she behaved at the wedding of her friend. Maybe I was jealous, but the way she had dressed and behaved was in exaggerated... One of her family members teased me for being a primitive Arab and if I don’t like it I should go back to my village”. Sami claims that “I live in peace with my wife but our close surrounding is sometimes cruel and rude... I hear lot of teasing from my neighbors, even in my workplace in the hospital, I’m a doctor, they call me an outsider, for not being part of the Jewish society and not being converted to Judaism... I expect problems and quarrels later on regarding our children’s identify and education”. Magid believes that “There is no such thing as perfect family life, problems and conflicts will always emerge and interfere... From time to time at my work in the army, people throwing jokes about haven’t yet been converted to Judaism... my wife also pressuring me to convert, to seize the opportunity that conversion in the army is easier and would last less than a year”. Fuad describes “There are always fights, quarrels have many reasons... I am relatively old, in my late 1950s... I had witnessed many quarrels from my side of the family, in my neighborhood or from my children’s parents’ friends”. The interviewees indicate that they do not have much support from the family; few of them reminded their wives, friends, acquaintances, psychological consultant and couples counseling. For example, Yusuf says that “We’ve already been in couples counseling, we also got help from close friends at time of crisis”. Suleiman describes “Common friends come in occasionally support us and move on... I also see in our family the most important asset, this is why I try to maneuver as much as possible and to avoid crisis in my marriage”. Sami claims “My wife greatly supports me, and the fact that we have children helps me to be strong enough to face the hostile environment”. Magid believes that “The thought of destroying the family unit had prevented me of giving up; moreover, it makes me more stubborn in my battle against the threats of nuclear family (parents/brothers)... my friends from the military help and support me a lot”. Fuad “My wife and my family is my source of support... I do whatever I can to keep my family together... My wife supports me... We’ve been through a lot already, we’ve seen it all and we’ll continue facing the challenges together”.
4) The change in attitude over time: Some of the interviewees describe a change in their worldview, among three of the five interviewees this modification is more apparent, they also older. Yusuf emphasizes “...I find myself wondering from time to time about my future... wondering where I would be in old age... Where would I be buried...? What is the state of my parents, brothers and sisters? ...I haven’t seen them for three years and I miss them and my old friends... It is very hard for me. Today I am bound and I can’t leave my children and wife”. Sami, similarly, claims that “I want to be buried in a Druze cemetery with my parents and relatives... I long for my family and my village friends... I think about it a lot”. Fuad also reinforces these previous statements by saying “I am old, I already think about the future... What would happen... The truth is that I fed up with urban life... I miss my nuclear family a lot... I’m troubled with the fact that I don’t know my brothers and sisters’ children... Nobody told me that one of my nephews is an officer in the Paratroopers. I miss my mother badly, the house I grew up... Today I’m in a loop and I cannot go back, to leave my wife and kids”. Suleiman says “For now, I’m living in the present, I wanted this life and I don’t want to change them... The future is unknown so it is useless to think or rather plan it... I chose this life and I will keep it as it is”. Magid describes “The future is here, I chose it and I will continue living it... I believe that one should be free and to look to the future, to live fulfilling satisfying life... I’ll start my own family and live with my wife”.
5) Suggestions for mixed couples who about to be married: the interviewees hesitated and even remained silent, only three of them were willing to talk. They recommended giving up intermarriage. Yusuf suggests “My best offer is not to marry, to leave this silly idea for it would cause them a lot of suffering”. Fuad recommends “To get off the train (of the wedding) before it gets on the road”. Magid says that “I don’t know whether it is recommended or not, it is subjective matter, the way to heaven is paved with good intentions, yet it contains great difficulties”.
The majority of the interviewees, despite their differences in religion, mentality and customs, have managed to maintain healthy marriage, partly due to the fact that some of them converted their religion in order to marry their wives. The process of conversion was made only by the Druze men, for a Druze who obeys the strict laws of the Druze religion and marrying non-Druze spouse is called “Istishra” (in Arabic)-استشرع person who does not worthy to be a Druze and obliged to leave the village as soon as one gets married. The family and village friends alienate him and his children. His offspring would not be able to marry a Druze, and he would be deprived of the inheritance, in case of death, he would not get to be prayed or being mourned. His death would not be published among the Druze settlements.
These laws have affected gender orders within the family. The interviews reveal that the Druze men feel lonely for the lack of their family’s support. They long for their nuclear families, feelings that lead to helpless and powerless modes sometimes, their children are more connected to their mother’s family, celebrating the holidays and getting closer to the other religion. The Druze man is socially and culturally passive, the wife and her family are the initiative factor and the mother’s culture is dominant, for instance, in the Druze society daughters are forbidden to go out with men before the wedding but in cases of intermarriage, where the woman is Jewish, the man and has to adjust different cultural and social formation, much different from the Druze mentality. Furthermore, the children are drawn to the dominant culture―the Israeli―Jewish one, rather than to the inferior culture of the father. In many cases when their daughters asked to go out with friends, the father found it difficult to agree, for his Druze tradition is still part of his being, as two of the interviewees describe, it is getting them upset and frustrated, to lose their control in a range of anger. The difference between the two societies―the Druze and the Jewish one is great, one is patriarchal while the other is liberal. In the Druze society the father is the dominant indisputable figure. The situation is quite different in cases of marrying Muslim women, for the mentality and social codes are similar. Thus, the Druze men do not feel socially and mentally isolated, the religions also resemble. Thus, the Druze men do not suffer a cultural change or inferiority for being isolated from their family or not supported by them. It also should be noted that their children also feel closer and part of their mother’s family, customs and religion. Recently, one of the interviewees have died, his family refused to bury him in the village and did not participate his funeral. This situation illustrates the complete refusal of the community to accept marriage outside the Druze religion, even death do not resolve a person from being ostracized. In this case, the man’s family-wife and children cuts off the strains with the father’s family, thus, they do not try to relate to the Druze tradition, they continue following their mother’s religion and culture. As stated above, most of intermarriage relationships have led the Druze men to a loose their identity. This great loss of culture is a result of internal and external constrains of strict laws which cannot be questioned. Religious Druze figures explain this rigidity in order to maintaining the Druze religion pure, and out of fearing of assimilation. According to them, this is the only chance of a small community to survive in the future.
The Druze congregation in Israelis is a rural society. Until three decades ago, the Druze society was conservative. Today; the Druze society is undergoing changes that affect its characteristics and are emphasized by undermining of the traditional leadership and authority. The young Druze generation is exposed to the world outside the village, overtaking the traditional position and perception with new political, economic, academic and security perspectives (Youssef, 2011) .
The research reveals that Druze men meet their non-Druze wives in the city, during studying, working or serving in the army. The openness towards modernity and the expose to the Jewish society in the cities and in the security services, the major dominant, modern and liberal government of the Jewish state, leads to an increase in friction and to the weakening in the relation to religion and tradition, hence, the process of assimilation becomes short.
The Druze husbands undergo a social adaptation and implementation of the new values immediately after their marriage. It was found that the husbands are well adjusted to the new society and culture. It is only natural that the new society encourages them and supports the marriage, and the Druze man becomes anti his former tradition society, and very supportive of the new one. The Druze man raises power to cope successfully and rapidly with the modification, it is done by embracing positive conception of the new reality and ignoring the difficulties. As for the relationship with his parents and other family members, the process is reversed, the family alienates him, especially finds it difficult to accept his new life and marriage to a non-Druze wife, the meaning of this act of alienation is that his family and a friend become hostile, for they feel contemptible and humiliated religiously and personally, especially the mother, she often feels as if she had failed educating her son to tradition and Druze values.
As time passes, the sense of longing to the nuclear family increases, as it is reflected among the older interviewees. Examination of adaptation models specified in the review, indicates that although the Druze men are already in a phase of integration, their inability to be part of their old society, creates negatives synthesis between these feelings and the feelings towards the new society and culture that he is living in, in which the former processes are not internalized. In this phase, the Druze man might develop a pathological regression, in which one might leave his wife and children and return to the Druze village, back into the fold. The break up from their family forces them to abandon their offspring and to deny responsibility. There are many cases of young Druze men who have left their wives and children.
In today’s reality with the adaptation of modern western life, the Druze traditional life style is in a state of erosion and its unique traditional characteristics are in decline, intermarriage is one example for this, the community tries hardly to avoid and to eradicate the spreading of the phenomenon.
As the Druze people do not accept intermarriage in their villages, most Druze marry within the community and do not leave their villages. Only few families live in the mixed cities with small Druze community or in cities without Druze population at all.