Bosnian Muslims find haven in Israel

IN A bizarre twist in Israel's process of 'in-gathering', a lost tribe of Muslims was yesterday welcomed on to Jewish soil. Nearly 100 Muslim refugees from Bosnia arrived to take up Israel's offer of asylum, pending the end of hostilities in their homeland.

But they did not arrive to find all was sweetness and light. The Israeli gesture has caused uproar among Israeli-Arabs and Palestinians, who accuse the government of staging a cynical propaganda stunt to draw attention away from the December deportation of some 400 other Muslims, alleged Hamas supporters.

It was primarily the timing of the Israeli offer that embarrassed leaders of the 700,000-strong Israeli-Arab community. For several months mayors of Israeli- Arab towns campaigned for Bosnian Muslims to be allowed into Israel, but were rebuffed. Now, they say, Israel has accepted 84 refugees just when it needs to improve its international image, ahead of the first visit to the region by the US Secretary of State, Warren Christopher.

'We have 400 Palestinian Muslims deported. In the West Bank and Gaza, Palestinians are being killed and watching their homes blown up. All this ugliness on our doorstep only makes us believe the offer to Bosnian Muslims is a gimmick,' said Walid Sadik, an Israeli-Arab leader and member of the left-wing party, Meretz.

Earlier this week the Israeli- Arabs said they would not, therefore, be associated with the arriving Bosnians. As a result the Bosnians are spending their first few weeks on a kibbutz.

Yesterday, however, with assurances from Bosnian authorities that Israel's gesture was welcomed by them, the Israeli-Arabs promised to help assimilate their fellow Muslims. 'Now they are here, whether it was for public relations or not, we will offer solidarity. We will visit them regularly starting next week when Ramadan starts,' said Mr Sadik, referring to the start of the Muslim month of fasting.

But the question is: how easy will assimilation be? The Bosnians belong to a different Islamic tradition than Israeli-Arabs. Bosnian Muslims are European Slavs who in the 12th century belonged to a Christian sect. In the 14th century, under the Ottoman Empire, they converted to Islam.

The Bosnian Muslims will not be staying forever: they have signed an agreement to go home when the war ends in Bosnia.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
Sainsbury's could roll the lorries out across its whole fleet if they are successful
tech
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
Ojo Onaolapo celebrates winning the bronze medal
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Rock band Led Zeppelin in the early 1970s
musicLed Zeppelin to release alternative Stairway To Heaven after 43 years
Arts and Entertainment
Tracey Emin's 'My Bed' is returning to the Tate more than 15 years after it first caused shockwaves at the gallery
artTracey Emin's bed returns to the Tate after record sale
Environment
Neil Young performing at Hyde Park, London, earlier this month
environment
News
i100
News
Prince Harry is clearing enjoying the Commonwealth Games judging by this photo
people(a real one this time)
Sport
Lionel Messi looks on at the end of the final
football
Extras
indybest
News
Richard Norris in GQ
mediaGQ features photo shoot with man who underwent full face transplant
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Project Coordinator

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: The Organisation: The Green Recrui...

Project Manager (HR)- Bristol - Upto £400 p/day

£350 - £400 per annum + competitive: Orgtel: Project Manager (specializing in ...

Embedded Linux Engineer

£40000 - £50000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Embedded Sof...

Senior Hardware Design Engineer - Broadcast

£50000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Working for a m...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell