How Muslim Refugees from Tsarist Russia Became Loyal Israeli Citizens

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.

Read more at Librarians

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

To Save Gaza, the U.S. Needs a Strategy to Restrain Iran

Since the outbreak of war on October 7, America has given Israel much support, and also much advice. Seth Cropsey argues that some of that advice hasn’t been especially good:

American demands for “restraint” and a “lighter footprint” provide significant elements of Hamas’s command structure, including Yahya Sinwar, the architect of 10/7, a far greater chance of surviving and preserving the organization’s capabilities. Its threat will persist to some extent in any case, since it has significant assets in Lebanon and is poised to enter into a full-fledged partnership with Hizballah that would give it access to Lebanon’s Palestinian refugee camps for recruitment and to Iranian-supported ratlines into Jordan and Syria.

Turning to the aftermath of the war, Cropsey observes that it will take a different kind of involvement for the U.S. to get the outcomes it desires, namely an alternative to Israeli and to Hamas rule in Gaza that comes with buy-in from its Arab allies:

The only way that Gaza can be governed in a sustainable and stable manner is through the participation of Arab states, and in particular the Gulf Arabs, and the only power that can deliver their participation is the United States. A grand bargain is impossible unless the U.S. exerts enough leverage to induce one.

Militarily speaking, the U.S. has shown no desire seriously to curb Iranian power. It has persistently signaled a desire to avoid escalation. . . . The Gulf Arabs understand this. They have no desire to engage in serious strategic dialogue with Washington and Jerusalem over Iran strategy, since Washington does not have an Iran strategy.

Gaza’s fate is a small part of a much broader strategic struggle. Unless this is recognized, any diplomatic master plan will degenerate into a diplomatic parlor game.

Read more at National Review

More about: Gaza War 2023, Iran, U.S. Foreign policy