Kfar Kama – Kfar Kama, Israel - Atlas Obscura
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Kfar Kama, Israel

Kfar Kama

One of only two towns in Israel populated by Circassians, a sect of Sunni Muslims who are also devoted to Israeli military service. 

Kfar Kama is one of the homes of the Circassians, a Muslim minority that draws a strict line between belief and nationalism, allowing them to devote themselves to both.

This small town in the Galilee region of Israel may date as far back as the 4th century according to some tombs found in the region, and has been known by many names over the centuries, however it was not until the late 1800’s that the current incarnation of the city was established. After fleeing persecution in the Russian Caucasus, just over 1,000 Circassian immigrants settled in what would become Kfar Kama, beginning a new life based around raising animals.

Today the village is still exclusively populated by Circassians, although their economic culture has shifted towards agriculture. There are now around 2,900 Circassian citizens in the village, accounting for the lion’s share of the Muslim sect in the country. In fact the only other place members of the sect can be found is in the smaller village of Rehaniya. 

Unlike Arab-Israeli citizens, who make up the majority of Israeli Muslims and are not included in mandatory conscription, Circassians are one of two minority groups drafted into the Israeli Defense Forces (the Druze being the other). While a significant number of Bedouins opt to serve in the Israeli military, the Circassians are the only Muslim group conscripted. This unique and seemingly contradictory existence can be explored in the Circassian history center located in the village.