Circassians in Israel

Following the mass deportation from their homeland, a small number of Circassians settled in Palestine and set up three settlements one of which was abandoned in 1910 due to a cholera outbreak. The remaining two villages, which are both in Galilee region, found themselves within the borders of the newly independent state of Israel in 1948. The larger of the two, Kfar Kama has a resident population of around three thousand consisting solely of Circassians while Rihania, the smaller village, is home to approximately a thousand Circassians who live alongside a small number of Arab residents.

Of the contemporary Circassian communities in the Middle East, Israeli Circassians are generally perceived to be the most successful in terms of preserving the Circassian ethno-cultural identity and language. Circassian is one of languages of education in these settlements where almost all residents are fluent in Circassian, Hebrew, Arabic and English.

Circassians are considered to be an exemplary Muslim minority with which the Israeli government has established a healthy and stable relationship based on mutual respect. Unlike the Arab citizens of the state, Circassian males, and those of the Druze, are conscripted to the army. The government has been sponsoring and supporting many educational and cultural activities and programmes designed to sustain Circassian language, culture and identity in Israel which enables the Israeli Circassian community enjoy a peaceful and stable existence.

There is a Circassian Heritage Center ( in Kfar Kama and a museum in Rihania.