How Muslim Refugees from Tsarist Russia Became Loyal Israeli Citizens

Dec. 27 2021

Circassians—a people from the northwestern Caucasus who speak a language related to Chechen and Georgian—first came to the Middle East as mamluk soldiers in the Middle Ages. But during the bloody conquest of their homeland by Russia in the 19th century, Circassians fled en masse to the Ottoman empire, and some settled in the Land of Israel, where their descendants remain to this day. Shir Aharon Bram describes the history of their two main communities in the Jewish state, Kfar Kama and Rehaniya.

Throughout the 19th century, the eastern Lower Galilee, where Kfar Kama was founded, was under the de-facto control of Bedouin tribes. The Ottoman government tried to impose its rule over the region in various ways, settling Maghrebi migrants from Algiers there and sending Kurdish battalions to confront the Bedouin, but with little success. The arrival of the Circassians changed things and effectively paved the way for Jewish settlement in the area about twenty years later.

Wherever they went, the Circassians often brought modernization along with them. Besides the Galilee, they established thirteen settlements in the central Golan Heights, while also settling across the Jordan River, where they established the modern city of Amman. They introduced advanced construction methods, metal- and woodworking techniques, and a mixed economy, and also incorporated European architectural styles, such as the famous “Marseille tiles” still visible in their villages.

In the 1948 war, the Circassians chose to fight alongside the Jews, and ever since then they have fulfilled their compulsory service in the IDF. . . Every Circassian child learns Hebrew, English, Adyghe [their native tongue], and Arabic, and some also study Russian and Turkish. The schools in Kfar Kama and Rehaniya are the only ones in the world where the students are Muslim and the language of instruction is Hebrew.

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Read more at Librarians

More about: Circassians, Israeli history, Jewish-Muslim Relations, Ottoman Empire

How European Fecklessness Encourages the Islamic Republic’s Assassination Campaign

In September, Cypriot police narrowly foiled a plot by an Iranian agent to murder five Jewish businessman. This was but one of roughly a dozen similar operations that Tehran has conducted in Europe since 2015—on both Israeli or Jewish and American targets—which have left three dead. Matthew Karnitschnig traces the use of assassination as a strategic tool to the very beginning of the Islamic Republic, and explains its appeal:

In the West, assassination remains a last resort (think Osama bin Laden); in authoritarian states, it’s the first (who can forget the 2017 assassination by nerve agent of Kim Jong-nam, the playboy half-brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, upon his arrival in Kuala Lumpur?). For rogue states, even if the murder plots are thwarted, the regimes still win by instilling fear in their enemies’ hearts and minds. That helps explain the recent frequency. Over the course of a few months last year, Iran undertook a flurry of attacks from Latin America to Africa.

Whether such operations succeed or not, the countries behind them can be sure of one thing: they won’t be made to pay for trying. Over the years, the Russian and Iranian regimes have eliminated countless dissidents, traitors, and assorted other enemies (real and perceived) on the streets of Paris, Berlin, and even Washington, often in broad daylight. Others have been quietly abducted and sent home, where they faced sham trials and were then hanged for treason.

While there’s no shortage of criticism in the West in the wake of these crimes, there are rarely real consequences. That’s especially true in Europe, where leaders have looked the other way in the face of a variety of abuses in the hopes of reviving a deal to rein in Tehran’s nuclear-weapons program and renewing business ties.

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Read more at Politico

More about: Europe, Iran, Israeli Security, Terrorism