A Futile Cry Ends Search for Identity

The large attendance at Yelena Bosinov's funeral in Kedumim Friday afternoon did not reflect the reality of her life in Israel. Bosinov, 54, set herself ablaze August 17 at an anti-disengagement protest in Netivot, and died of her wounds.

Bosinov, an engineer by profession, came from Odessa five years ago with her elderly mother, who since died, and lived alone in the West Bank settlement. Acquaintances described her as a modest woman who enjoyed helping others. Bosinov was preoccupied with issues of Jewish identity, occasionally audited courses on these subjects at Bar-Ilan University, and published articles on Russian-language Web sites. Lately, she had become intensively active in extremist circles among right-wing Russian speakers.

"She exhausted every avenue of legitimate civic protest," her colleague, Asia Antov of Karnei Shomron, told Haaretz. "She worked for a referendum, went to demonstrations and parlor meetings, wrote letters to the Russian-language newspapers. She also went to protests at junctions, and was twice detained for questioning. She did everything, but had the feeling that nobody was listening. Recently, we discussed how the insensate regime in Israel was beginning to resemble that in the Soviet Union."

Antov said Israelis were wrong to call Bosinov's self-immolation "un-Jewish." "Yelena took a desperate measure, but one suitable to the immensity of the event of expelling Jews from their land. All other measures we took turned out to be irrelevant. She did the only brave and relevant thing."

"Fellow immigrants from the former Soviet Union have said that her sacrifice might not alter reality, but she has restored our self-respect," Antov added.