A first of its kind initiative designed to better integrate Druze citizens from the Golan Heights region into all units of the Israel Defense Forces was inaugurated this week in Majdal Shams.
The project is named for Maj. Salim Shufi, who fought in the IDF's elite special forces unit, Sayeret Matkal. Shufi died last year at 82 years old, and his family and friends joined in the inauguration of his namesake initiative.
Shufi was born in Majdal Shams in the northern Golan Heights, was recruited to Sayeret Matkal in the 1960s, and was quickly recognized as an outstanding soldier. He took part in countless missions and contributed significantly to the security of the State of Israel.
In one of his missions, Shufi helped save the lives of fellow soldiers under the command of Benjamin Netanyahu, now Israel's prime minister, penetrating deep into Syrian territory and helping Israeli special forces soldiers return home without being discovered.
After his discharge, Shufi was elected as mayor of Majdal Shams, where he represented the causes of Druze society. His many friends decided to continue his efforts, collaborating with the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews to create an educational program that helps young Druze integrate better into the IDF, academia and the economy. The program also promotes their involvement in voluntary educational activities to deepen their knowledge of Shufi's contributions to the country.
The scholarship for participation in the program will be awarded to 25 young Druze, who will be chosen by a committee including representatives from Shufi's family, Sayeret Matkal veterans and International Fellowship of Christians and Jews representatives. "I am proud of this project," said IFCJ President Yechiel Eckstein.