The Bosnian-Palestinian Friendship Society just formed in Sarajevo. Bosnian mufti Mustafa Ceric [who last year was hosted by an Atlanta synagogue for one of those interfaith dialogue routines] called for an end in killing between Hamas and Fatah.
“Reis-ul-ulema Dr. Ceric congratulated the [Palestinian] ambassador [to Bosnia & Hercegovina Dr. Zuheira Alšena] on the formation of this society, and said it is a significant event for Bosnia & Herzegovina and Palestine,” according to the report.
In contrast, the Serbian-Jewish Friendship Society was formed in Belgrade in 1987.
Here is a snippet from an interview with Betsy Lalich, the Jewish head of the Chicago chapter of the Society, taken in the middle of our 1999 assault on Yugoslavia:
She recalls that during World War II, Belgrade was bombed for six straight days and suffered tremendous civilian casualties. The bombing began on April 6, 1941. “A lot of Serbs are remembering that now” because of the congruence in dates, she says. “We never forget what the Nazis did.” The constant suffering “has made people defiant,” she says. “When they feel attacked, they become a warlike nation.” Lalich believes that Jews, in particular, should understand this mindset.
It was partially for that reason that the Serbian-Jewish Friendship Society was formed in Belgrade some 10 years ago, when the Soviet Union fell and Yugoslavia began to break up into separate countries.
When that happened, Lalich says, “there was a big campaign to separate the Serbs and the Jews, because people knew there was a common history and a lot of historical parallels.”
The “friendship” in the name of the society is no accident, she says: Serbs and Jews have had a long-standing and friendly relationship, and in Belgrade, where the largest Jewish community was, Jews enjoyed cordial relations with non-Jewish Serbs.
“(Former Yugoslav dictator Marshall) Tito had not taken a favorable view of Israel,” she says. “He sided with the Arabs, and a lot of the Serbian people didn’t go along with that. The Serbian people never had ill feelings for Israel.”
The Friendship Society has more than 5,000 members worldwide, Lalich says. Many are non-Jewish Serbs. In the United States, there are some 500 members, with about 100 in Chicago. There also are chapters in the New York area and in Los Angeles. The largest number of members are — or were — in Yugoslavia, particularly Belgrade.
If there is any doubt that for decades now, Israelis have pulled off a systemic and systematic eradication of the Palestinians in their Palestinian homeland, all the while terrorizing the entire Middle East, one need only read the sermon given last Friday [21 July] by Mustafa Ceric, the religious leader of Bosnia-Hercegovina Muslims.
Even as the entire civilized world, aside from the United States and Tony Blair, is appalled by the massive Israeli crimes in Lebanon and Gaza, the Bosnia-Hercegovina reisu-l-ulema “led the prayers at the Gazi Husrevbegova mosque in Sarajevo”, after which he gave a sermon. In it, according to Dnevni avaz, he “called on the world to stop the war in the Middle East” and to “end the suffering of innocent civilians in Lebanon, Palestine and Israel”. He then expressed to the assembled worshippers his disappointment with the “lethargic conscience of humanity”, which cannot be awakened even by “the hundreds of bombs dropped on Lebanon and Gaza, nor by the hundreds of rockets fired at Israel”.
Ceric also explained to the worshippers “no one has a greater right, or obligation, than we in Sarajevo to raise our voices against the bombardment of Beirut and the rocket attacks against Haifa, because we know best what it means to live in a city under siege, without water and food, without electricity and defences against shells”.
Precisely because they experienced first-hand the full hypocrisy of the international “appeals for an end to the war in Bosnia-Hercegovina”, the equation of the bloodthirsty aggressor with the helpless victim…for that very reason it is incumbent on Sarajevans most of all to be ashamed of Reis Ceric’s quoted sermon.
Reis-ul-Ulema Mustafa Ceric, Islamic Community leader in Bosnia-Herzegovina, in his address to the faithful on the first day of Bairam in Sarajevo’s central mosque, sent a political message for an umpteenth time.
Ceric said that “the Muslims in B-H have experienced having to move, and jihad”. He asked them “to pay respect to those who died for their faith, that is, to shahids,” thereby recognizing that the Muslims waged a religious war in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Political analyst Tanja Topic… [said] we should not forget that the religious institutions and their leaders are very influential in Bosnia-Hercegovina, and their words carry much more weight than those of the politicians.
“The best illustration of this is the recent election. By openly supporting Haris Silajdzic [who doesn’t believe there is a terrorism problem as such], Ceric ensured him a seat in the B-H Presidency, because Ceric’s words have the strongest influence on the Bosniaks [Muslims],” Topic has said.
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