is a Druze
The Druze are an esoteric, monotheistic religious community, found primarily in Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan, which emerged during the 11th century from Ismailism. The Druze have an eclectic set of beliefs that incorporate several elements from Abrahamic religions, Gnosticism, Neoplatonism...
village in the northern part of the Golan Heights
, in the southern foothills of Mt. Hermon. Since the June 1967 Six-Day War
The Six-Day War , also known as the June War, 1967 Arab-Israeli War, or Third Arab-Israeli War, was fought between June 5 and 10, 1967, by Israel and the neighboring states of Egypt , Jordan, and Syria...
, the village has been controlled by Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...
, first under martial law, but since 1981 under Israeli civil law, and incorporated into the Israeli system of local councils.
The name Majdal Shams is thought to be of Northwest Semitic origin meaning "tower of sun".
Majdal Shams is the largest of the four Druze villages in the Golan. According to the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics
The Israel Central Bureau of Statistics , abbreviated CBS, is an Israeli government office established in 1949 to carry out research and publish statistical data on all aspects of Israeli life, including population, society, economy, industry, education and physical infrastructure.It is headed by a...
, as of September 2005 Majdal Shams's population was 8,800. The population growth rate is 2.5%. The ratio between men and women is 951 women for every 1,000 men. The village is politically and spiritually governed by the Abu-Salah and Safdie families. The inhabitants of Majdal Shams are considered to be Syrian citizens by the Syrian authorities, but since 1981 they are also considered to be permanent residents in Israel by the Israeli authorities. They are entitled to full Israeli citizenship upon request, however only few opted to become Israeli citizens. Israel does not recognize the inhabitants' Syrian citizenship, and after debates and deliberations with the Israeli government, it was agreed they would be defined in the Israeli records merely as "residents of the Golan Heights". Majdal Shams inhabitants are not enlisted to the Israeli army, and unless applying for Israeli citizenship, they cannot vote or be elected to the Knesset
The Knesset is the unicameral legislature of Israel, located in Givat Ram, Jerusalem.-Role in Israeli Government :The legislative branch of the Israeli government, the Knesset passes all laws, elects the President and Prime Minister , approves the cabinet, and supervises the work of the government...
, and are not entitled to an Israeli passport. Instead, they travel abroad with laissez passer issued by the Israeli authorities. Being "permanent residents" Majdal Shams inhabitants are free to work and study in Israel and receive state's services like health insurance. They are also free to change their residence and live inside Israel. Nevertheless, many of them maintain contacts with Syria and travel there, when possible and with the aid of the Red Cross, to visit family or receive university tuition, which is available for free for Syrian citizens.
The village is surrounded by apple and cherry orchards.
During winter, villagers also sell or hire ski equipment to visitors of the Hermon ski resort.
One kilometer east of the town center, on the other side of the valley, is the Shouting Hill
The Shouting Hill is a hill in the Israeli controlled portion of the Golan Heights. The hill is situated near the Druze village of Majdal Shams in the area of the Golan that is occupied by Israel. During the Six Day War, Israel captured the majority of the heights...
, where Majdal Shams' Druze line up with bullhorns to make small-talk with relatives on the Syrian side. The Shouting Hill near A-line is situated at 4.5 km southwest of the village of Hadar at 1,100 m above sea level.
Majdal Shams was the village featured in the award-winning film, The Syrian Bride
The Syrian Bride is a 2004 film directed by Eran Riklis. The story deals with a Druze wedding and the troubles the politically unresolved situation creates for the personal lives of the people in and from the village...