A beautiful and amazing story from Israel

Tolerance is the solution to most conflicts in the world.

From the French—language website newsmagazine proche—orient.info comes an incredible story of friendship and human dignity.

The story starts in Sarajevo at the beginning of WWII. Mustafa and Zaneiba Hardagan were a very tolerant Muslim couple who had a lot of Jewish friends, especially the Kabilio family. When the Germans occupied Sarajevo, the Gestapo's Headquarters were situated across the street from the Hardagan's residence. The Hardagans warn their Jewish friends many times about the upcoming arrests of Jews by the SS. Mustafa begged his friend Yossef Kabilio to come and stay with them telling him 'You are our brothers. This is your home.'

Yossef accepted, but later had to arrange for the departure of his whole family because the situation of the Jews was becoming worse by the day. Unfortunately, the Gestapo arrested him, while his family was safe. Zeineba made a point of visiting him every day, bringing him food and clothing. But after a month, she decided that she was not doing enough and took upon herself to ask the Gestapo Head for Yossef's release. He was obviously very surprised that a Muslim would risk so much to save the life of a Jew. In the end, after generously bribing the officer, she obtained Yossef's liberation. Yossef escaped safely to Italy in 1943.

Zeineba is not the only courageous member of her family. Her dad, Ahmed Sahdik, a Muslim originally from Salonica, Greece, hid many Jewish families during the war in his own residence. Unfortunately he was denounced and then sent to a concentration camp, where he died in 1945. Sahdik's name, albeit a Muslim one, is listed today on the Sarajevo memorial dedicated to the deported Jewish victims.

The Kabilios made it back safely to Sarajevo after the war and Zeineba gave them back the jewels they had left with her. They embarked on a ship going to Palestine, where they started a new life, but never forgot their Muslim friends during all these years.

The Kabilios decided to honor Zebeina's courage by having the Yad Vashem museum in Jerusalem include her as one of the 'Righteous among the nations' for her role during the Shoah. She was then invited in 1985 to Israel to be recognized as the first Muslim ever to hold that title. She spent two wonderful months there, where she was impressed by the warmth and the welcome of the Israeli authorities.

Obviously she had no idea that a few years later, the irony of history would save her family's life. In fact in 1992, while Yugoslavia was in the midst of a bloody civil war, Zebeina's family was in mortal danger because of the numerous bombings in their neighborhood in Sarajevo.

Yossef Kabilio's children worked endlessly to save their saviors. They obtained directly from Israel Prime Minister Rabin a special authorization to bring the whole Hardagan family to Israel, along with members of the Jewish community of Sarajevo. So, in 1994, they settled in Israel: Zebeina's daughter Aida got a revelation upon entering Jerusalem. She said that she did not feel like a stranger but rather it was like coming back home. She then converted to Judaism and was renamed Sarah. She added that until her death in October 1994, her mother Zebeina was very supportive.

Zebeina Hardagan, the first Muslim 'Righteous among the nations' was buried in the Jewish cemetery of Bet Zait according to strict Jewish law. Even the hard—line rabbis accepted bending the rules because of her story.

Today, Sarah is a firm Zionist, and this is what she has to say about Israel:

'I do not know of a single country in the world who would have welcomed us like Israel did. We were Muslims and it is the Jewish state, which embraced us with love and affection. The entire world witnessed what happened in Sarajevo and only Israel came to our rescue. This is the true state of Israel and not what foreign TV networks show you every night. If Israel was a racist state, how come they took care of Muslims like us? Our story is a message for those who really want to live in peace in the Near East.'

If all the symbols were not enough, Sarah has been working for the past ten years at the Museum of Yad Vashem, the Shoah memorial.
 
Sarah's daughter, Esther, who was born a Muslim in Sarajevo, great granddaughter of Ahmed Sahdik who died in deportation while saving Jews, granddaughter of Zeneiba Hardagan the first Muslim Just among nations, is now a 21—year—old officer in the Israeli air force.

This incredible story spanning generations, continents and religions, is the ultimate remedy for accusing Israel of being an apartheid state. It is very easy and convenient to blame Israel, the only democracy in the region, for all the problems in the world. The International Court of Justice's decision to condemn Israel for the construction of the self—protecting fence is only the latest example of this phenomenon.

But it is high time to remember that Israeli Arabs remain far the best off among the Arabs of the Middle East. In fact, Israel is still the only place where the condition of women is one of fundamental equality, and where they can vote. So, instead of always pointing the finger to the most tolerant country in the Middle East, why is the UN not taking care of more pressing issues in Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia or Sudan, where Christian minorities were and still are being slaughtered day in the millions?

Tolerance is the solution to most conflicts in the world.

From the French—language website newsmagazine proche—orient.info comes an incredible story of friendship and human dignity.

The story starts in Sarajevo at the beginning of WWII. Mustafa and Zaneiba Hardagan were a very tolerant Muslim couple who had a lot of Jewish friends, especially the Kabilio family. When the Germans occupied Sarajevo, the Gestapo's Headquarters were situated across the street from the Hardagan's residence. The Hardagans warn their Jewish friends many times about the upcoming arrests of Jews by the SS. Mustafa begged his friend Yossef Kabilio to come and stay with them telling him 'You are our brothers. This is your home.'

Yossef accepted, but later had to arrange for the departure of his whole family because the situation of the Jews was becoming worse by the day. Unfortunately, the Gestapo arrested him, while his family was safe. Zeineba made a point of visiting him every day, bringing him food and clothing. But after a month, she decided that she was not doing enough and took upon herself to ask the Gestapo Head for Yossef's release. He was obviously very surprised that a Muslim would risk so much to save the life of a Jew. In the end, after generously bribing the officer, she obtained Yossef's liberation. Yossef escaped safely to Italy in 1943.

Zeineba is not the only courageous member of her family. Her dad, Ahmed Sahdik, a Muslim originally from Salonica, Greece, hid many Jewish families during the war in his own residence. Unfortunately he was denounced and then sent to a concentration camp, where he died in 1945. Sahdik's name, albeit a Muslim one, is listed today on the Sarajevo memorial dedicated to the deported Jewish victims.

The Kabilios made it back safely to Sarajevo after the war and Zeineba gave them back the jewels they had left with her. They embarked on a ship going to Palestine, where they started a new life, but never forgot their Muslim friends during all these years.

The Kabilios decided to honor Zebeina's courage by having the Yad Vashem museum in Jerusalem include her as one of the 'Righteous among the nations' for her role during the Shoah. She was then invited in 1985 to Israel to be recognized as the first Muslim ever to hold that title. She spent two wonderful months there, where she was impressed by the warmth and the welcome of the Israeli authorities.

Obviously she had no idea that a few years later, the irony of history would save her family's life. In fact in 1992, while Yugoslavia was in the midst of a bloody civil war, Zebeina's family was in mortal danger because of the numerous bombings in their neighborhood in Sarajevo.

Yossef Kabilio's children worked endlessly to save their saviors. They obtained directly from Israel Prime Minister Rabin a special authorization to bring the whole Hardagan family to Israel, along with members of the Jewish community of Sarajevo. So, in 1994, they settled in Israel: Zebeina's daughter Aida got a revelation upon entering Jerusalem. She said that she did not feel like a stranger but rather it was like coming back home. She then converted to Judaism and was renamed Sarah. She added that until her death in October 1994, her mother Zebeina was very supportive.

Zebeina Hardagan, the first Muslim 'Righteous among the nations' was buried in the Jewish cemetery of Bet Zait according to strict Jewish law. Even the hard—line rabbis accepted bending the rules because of her story.

Today, Sarah is a firm Zionist, and this is what she has to say about Israel:

'I do not know of a single country in the world who would have welcomed us like Israel did. We were Muslims and it is the Jewish state, which embraced us with love and affection. The entire world witnessed what happened in Sarajevo and only Israel came to our rescue. This is the true state of Israel and not what foreign TV networks show you every night. If Israel was a racist state, how come they took care of Muslims like us? Our story is a message for those who really want to live in peace in the Near East.'

If all the symbols were not enough, Sarah has been working for the past ten years at the Museum of Yad Vashem, the Shoah memorial.
 
Sarah's daughter, Esther, who was born a Muslim in Sarajevo, great granddaughter of Ahmed Sahdik who died in deportation while saving Jews, granddaughter of Zeneiba Hardagan the first Muslim Just among nations, is now a 21—year—old officer in the Israeli air force.

This incredible story spanning generations, continents and religions, is the ultimate remedy for accusing Israel of being an apartheid state. It is very easy and convenient to blame Israel, the only democracy in the region, for all the problems in the world. The International Court of Justice's decision to condemn Israel for the construction of the self—protecting fence is only the latest example of this phenomenon.

But it is high time to remember that Israeli Arabs remain far the best off among the Arabs of the Middle East. In fact, Israel is still the only place where the condition of women is one of fundamental equality, and where they can vote. So, instead of always pointing the finger to the most tolerant country in the Middle East, why is the UN not taking care of more pressing issues in Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia or Sudan, where Christian minorities were and still are being slaughtered day in the millions?