“Adygea” by Ahmed Nagoev

Circassians in photo-session made by photographer Ahmed Nagoev, named “Adygea”

Circassians – Discrimination in Israel

source: Israel National News

In the XIX century, after a century long war against Russian occupation, over 400.000 Circassian had been killed and over 1.000.000 were subjected to forced expulsion. As a result, a Circassian minority can now be found in Israel and Palestine.

Israel boasts about having one of the broadest anti-discrimination laws of any country.

However, this doesn’t stop Circassians (and other minorities) from being discriminated. The reasoning behind the discrimination  is supposedly the Muslim religion of Circassians.

Circassians in Israel

Circassians in Israel


Druze, Circassians protest State’s discrimination

July 2 2009 – Israel, a country with reasonable resources, is subjecting its minorities to humiliating conditions such as electricity and water shortages – blamed by the prime-minister on “international economic crisis”.

Dozens of Druze and Circassians protested against what they called the State’s continued discrimination against them on Thursday by driving slowly and disrupting traffic from Akko to Rosh Pina in the north.

“The way we are treated is part of the State’s policies of contempt. We will continue to step up our protest,” said chairman of the Forum of Heads of Druze and Circassian Local Authorities, Salah Fares.
The council heads are demanding the erasure of their municipalities’ debts, the creation of employment for their constituents, and additional funds. The protest’s organizers threatened a full-fledged “intifada” (uprising) if their demands are not be met. Earlier this week similar demonstrations were held at central intersections in the Galilee region.

“We are citizens of the State of Israel. This is our only country, but we are not granted the same rights as the other citizens,” Fares added.”As far as we’re concerned, this is a dark day for the entire Israeli nation. It’s time that the Israeli government wakes up and stop this policy of contempt towards the Druze and Circassian population.”On Wednesday Ynet reported that the Finance Ministry and Dexia Israel, which extends credit to local councils, recently reached an agreement to increase credit lines to Druze councils and to transfer NIS 53 million ($13.5 million) to them.

Fares dismissed the report, saying, “These leaks from the Finance Ministry are a travesty, and are indicative of the continued policy of contempt.”Last week the Druze sector held a violent protest outside the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem. Following the rally, during which seven police officers were injured, a number of Druze council heads met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Interior Minister Eli Yishai.

Sajur Local Council Head Hamud Jabar said Netanyahu had promised to appeal to the Finance Ministry in an attempt to secure the funds they requested, despite the current financial crisis.”I explained to him that we serve together, live together, and sometimes die together, and what can we do, we are asking to be equal. We demand a schedule for the steps to be taken, not just niceties.”

Netanyahu heard testimonies regarding water and electricity shortages, as well as insufficient funds for the payment of municipal employee wages.


Israel MP says Christian citizens “not Arabs,” pushes for discriminatory policy

January 8, 2014

A member of the Israeli Knesset is pushing forward legislation that would discriminate between Christian and Muslim Palestinian citizens of Israel, media reported on Wednesday.

MK Yariv Levin, the coalition chairman for the governing conservative Likud-Yisrael Beitenu faction, is proposing a series of bills over the status of Palestinian Christian citizens of Israel, notably identifying them as “not Arabs,” Maariv newspaper reported.

One of the suggested bills would give Christian Arabs the possibility to put down their nationality as simply “Christian” on their Israeli identification papers, as opposed to “Arab Christian.”

“My legislation will award separate representation and a separate frame of reference to the Christian public, distinguishing them from Muslim Arabs,” Levin said, in a statement translated by the Palestinian al-Ray news agency.

“This is an important, historic step that could introduce balance to the State of Israel, and connect us [Jews] with the Christians,” he added. “I make sure not to refer to them as Arabs, because they’re not Arabs.”

Another bill up for discussion would give Christian citizens of Israel different representation in municipal and government councils than Muslims, Maariv reported.

Israeli law discriminates between Jewish and non-Jewish citizens, as well as between non-Jewish citizens themselves. For example, Druze and Circassians citizens are subjected to mandatory military service, unlike Christians and Muslims.

According to CIA statistics, 123,000 Arab Christians live in Occupied Palestine, and another 226,000 reside in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Churches in the West Bank are often targeted in anti-Christian “price tag” attacks by Israeli settlers.

Palestinians and Arab citizens of Israel are also frequently victims of racist incidents in areas under Israeli control, and their perpetrators are rarely prosecuted.

Levin is one of ten finalists in the running to receive the Israel Democracy Institute’s 2013 “outstanding parliamentarian” award, The Jerusalem Post reported on Tuesday


Circassian Royal Guards

In the 19th century, large numbers of Circassians were exiled and deported by Russian empire to the Ottoman Empire after a century old Russian-Circassian War. Others resettled in Turkey, Jordan, Syria.

In most places, Circassians have enjoyed acceptance and respect.

In Jordan in particular, the very capital of the country – Amman, was first settled by Circassians in 1878.  Since then, Circassians have significantly contributed to the development of Jordanian society, which in return granted them the position of personal trusted Royal Guards in the King’s Palace.

Adyghe people traditional costume (Circassian men, women)

adyghe traditional costume men Kabardino-Balkaria Karachay-Cherkessia

Adyghe people (Circassians) are people of the historical Circassia. In the XXth century, the Soviet authorities divided the region into different republics  – Adygea, Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachay-Cherkessia. The Soviet authorities also divided the Circassian ethnicity into different categories: Kabardins (Kabardino-Balkaria), Cherkess (Karachay-Cherkessia), Adyghe (Adygea republic).

A significant part of the Adyghe population was killed during the Russian-Circassian war and other Circassians were displaced to the Middle-East following forced migration.


Below is a rare first-hand outlook on the Circassians as seen by a British traveler in the 1830’s (before the expulsion of Circassians from the Caucasus).

Click on link Tales of travellers; A view of the world (published in 1838)


“The Circassians, who dwell in the mountain valleys, are a martial people, trained from infancy in the midst of arms and early habituated to systematic plunder, their exploits in which confer renown. The sole pursuit of the Circassians is predatory war against their neighbors: hence their courage, though individually unquenchable, and formidable in masses, is undisciplined. 

The warlike qualities are kept alive, moreover, by the incidents attending the political division of Circassians into distinct tribes, jealous of, and often at variance with, each other, which produces feuds, inroads, reprisals, all of which are esteemed honorable. Slaves are one of the principal objects of their barter-trade with the Turks. […]

The nation is now considered to consist of 10 principal states or tribes, compromising a population of about 2 millions. These tribes, though not bound by any federal policy, but existing in a state of mutual repulsion, sacrifice all feuds and jealousies and unite as in one common cause when the independence of their country is threatened from without.”

wedding-costumes circassia

 After the Russian expulsion, Circassian women were sold as sex slaves by Circassian men to the Ottoman empire, when the term of “Circassian beauties” was born.

Read more on the subject in an 1856 article Horrible Traffic in Circassian Women—Infanticide in Turkey,” New York Daily Times, August 6, 1856

.Costumes were made of fabrics woolen and animal skin. More sophisticated fabrics appeared after year 1900.