DTEC center to empower Druze veterans to integrate into hi-tech sector
The planned Druze High-Tech Empowerment Center (DTEC).
(photo credit: DRUZE VETERANS ASSOCIATION)
The dream of Koftan Halabi, the founder of Israel’s Druze Vets Association, the accelerator aims to break ground this summer in Usfiya.
The first Druze High-Tech Empowerment Center (DTEC) will break ground on July 25 in Usfiya, a Druze-majority town and local council in the North. It will later open its doors to more than 140,000 members of Israel’s Druze community.The center was the dream of Druze Veterans Association founder Koftan Halabi. It will empower thousands of Druze to integrate into the hi-tech sector rather than the usual military, police or other security-related fields, he said.Halabi founded the Druze Veterans Association in 2009. Since then, he has secured scholarships and found jobs for hundreds of Druze youths who after their discharge from the IDF were looking for meaningful employment, he told The Jerusalem Post.Many Druze have succeeded in the legal, medical and military fields, but Halabi saw the need to push for more Druze in the hi-tech sector “since all Israelis deserve to enjoy the benefits of the Start-Up Nation.”
The goal of the association is to increase access and fully integrate Druze veterans into all aspects of Israeli society, he said.DTEC will raise Druze veterans’ motivation to enter the world of technological innovation and significantly reduce the number of them who drop out of university, Halabi said. It will provide mentorship and generous financial assistance, he added.The center also will encourage Druze women to strive for a career in technology, something few have considered until now, Halabi said.“DTEC will provide the capabilities, mentors and more so that veterans will succeed in their education and then have the door opened wide for jobs and opportunities that were closed before,” he said.The center will be located on top of a hill in Usfiya, Halabi said, pointing out how it overlooks northern Israel. It will be three stories high, with the first floor for educational and administrative space and the second floor for hi-tech industries and partnerships. The third floor, which will be built when the necessary funds become available, will be rented out to additional small industries and will have a kosher restaurant for visiting groups. Several government officials and leaders of Israel’s hi-tech community are supporting the project, Halabi said, adding that he hopes to meet soon with Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi to promote DTEC in the military.Last year, the Druze community, one of the smallest minorities in Israel, was in an uproar over the proposed Nation-State Law, with many saying it broke the traditional “blood alliance” between Israel and the Druze.Supporters of the controversial Nation-State Law said it enshrines Jewish and democratic values. But critics said it discriminates against minority communities such as the Druse and Israeli Arabs because it downgrades the Arabic language from official to “special.” Like Jews, members of the Druze community are drafted in large numbers into the IDF, and many serve in elite units. There are several high-ranking Druze officers, and the first Druze to become a pilot received his wings in June 2019.But since the controversial Nation-State Law, there has been a decrease in motivation to serve in combat units, Halabi told the Post.“We felt betrayed,” he said, adding that nevertheless, Druze would not stop serving in the IDF.