Cite: Geller, Conscription of Circassians into the IDF

Geller, Randy. “The Recruitment and Conscription of the Circassian Community into the Israel Defence Forces, 1948-58 .” Middle Eastern Studies 48.3 (2012): 387-399.



This article examines the process leading to the draft of the Sunni Muslim Circassian community into the Israel Defence Forces beginning in 1958. While the Circassians were the second and final minority group to be drafted into the IDF (following the Druze in 1956), the background to and implementation of the draft of this community in Israel has been virtually ignored by previous researchers. This article is the first to examine the process leading to the Circassian draft based on original documentation, and argues that the small number of Circassians enabled the army to incorporate them without threatening the army’s fundamentally Jewish character; it also enabled the state to demonstrate its commitment to democracy and equality by incorporating a (second) non-Jewish minority group into a central state institution. Additionally, Circassian service would theoretically engender divisions between Circassian and Arab Muslims, and finally – perhaps – would garner the sympathy of highly placed Circassians in the governments and armies of neighbouring Arab states.