Out of nowhere, on Aug. 1st appeared a seemingly out-of-place news item in the UK Jewish Chronicle, delivering a stale and inaccurate bit of information concerning Alex Cvetkovic, the subject of my Algemeinerarticle this week:
An Israeli court has ruled that a Bosnian Serb should be extradited to face trial for war crimes during the Srebrenica massacre.
Aleksandar Cvetkovic is wanted for his involvement in the 1995 atrocity, which saw more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys killed by the Serbian Republic Army.
Cvetkovic has a Jewish wife and gained Israeli citizenship after he moved to the country five years ago.
But in January the 42-year-old was arrested following an extradition request from the Bosnia and Herzegovina government. He has until the end of the month to appeal to Israel’s Supreme Court.
Small things first: Serbian Republic Army? It’s actually the Bosnian-Serb Army. And it’s “Serb Republic,” not Serbian Republic, which would imply that something is of or within Serbia.
Stranger, though, was this outdated update suddenly appearing at this time. Observe the last line: “But in January the 42-year-old was arrested…He has until the end of the month to appeal to Israel’s Supreme Court.”
The January that Cvetkovic was arrested in was January 2011. And it was after his August 2011 hearing that he had “until the end of the month to appeal to Israel’s Supreme Court.” As we know, his appeal is already in progress, and the Supreme Court is poised to rule on it.
Knowing now that whoever is behind this Jewish Chronicle lacks basic journalistic skills, I was intrigued and looked found and found the following Aug. 2nd article:
There are not many Muslim politicians in the world who openly admire Israel. In fact, Emir Suljagic, an author and former member of the Bosnian Social Democratic party, may just be in a minority of one.
To understand why, one word helps above all others: survival. Mr Suljagic evaded death during the massacre of 8,000 Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica in July 1992 thanks to a piece of good fortune that echoes many near-miss tales from the Holocaust.
Well the first reason he may have evaded it in 1992 is that the supposed massacre didn’t happen until 1995. So again, these people can’t even get the year right. And notice that no editor or reader caught the error. One merely had to go back to the previous inaccurate article — from just the day before — and compare years, as that one did have “1995.”
When he was 17, he fled the ethnic cleansing taking place in the Drina Valley and took refuge in Srebrenica. As the town fell to Serb forces and the round-up of Bosniaks began, Mr Suljagic encountered none other than the Serb general, Ratko Mladic.
Mladic asked Mr Suljagic who he was, upon which he produced his identity card. The general looked at the card and let him go, only because was a UN-employed translator.
Yes, let’s take Mr. Suljagic at his assumption that this was the “only” reason Mladic didn’t just snuff him out right there. (Though one wonders what the reasons are for the thousands of other Muslims Mladic didn’t kill. They couldn’t all have been 17-year-old translators.)
In his book, Postcards from the Grave, Mr Suljagic wrote of his bemusement at having been spared, a clear case of survivor’s guilt and one that can be found in the accounts of many who lived through the Holocaust. Most other members of Mr Suljagic’s family were killed.
Under what circumstances, we’re not told.
Today, Mr Suljagic speaks with the lexicon of a survivor. While he stresses that what happened to the Jews during the Second World War was on a scale far beyond the attempt to wipe out Bosnia’s Muslims [which, if that had happened, would have been on a scale far beyond a few thousand dead Muslim soldiers, which is what “Srebrenica” actually was], Srebrenica has become the symbol of a long battle for the survival of a people and, just as that struggle is not over for Israelis, nor is it over for Bosniaks.
“Like Israel, we are a small group in a hostile environment. Like Israel, our neighbours would be happy if we ceased to exist. We are still fighting. Look at the recent comments of the Serbian president, Tomislav Nikolic, who denied that a genocide was committed in Srebrenica,” he said.
Projection, anyone? Bosnia’s Muslims are the at-risk group even as they breach the Dayton agreement and impose their religion on the Catholic Croats and Christian Serbs? [See links below about education curricula in Sarajevo, and Sir Alfred Sherman’s piece.] It’s the Bosnian-Muslim hostility that has Croats and Serbs alike wanting to secede from fast-Islamicizing Bosnia. And no one is talking about the Muslims ceasing to exist, or else Muslims and Serbs wouldn’t be bringing Ramadan and Christmas trays over each other’s houses — as many more were doing before the West ‘helped.’
…The relevance of the Holocaust for the Bosnian Muslim public was apparent at last month’s memorial to commemorate the 17th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre.
New York Rabbi Arthur Schneier, whose entire family was murdered at Auschwitz, was invited by the Grand Mufti of Sarajevo to speak at the event.
When I wrote about this tool’s visit to the memorial last month, I hadn’t realized he’d been invited by the Islamo-supremacist Mufti Mustafa Ceric himself. I would have spent an extra page making fun of this “rabbi” if I had known that. Ceric is friends with the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, Sheik Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah — who in March issued a fatwa that it is “necessary to destroy all the churches of the region.” The two are fixtures at “interfaith” and “cultural” “dialogues” that Muslims use to further their ambitions over infidels. It’s significant that the chief imam of the “moderate” Bosnian Muslims has such friends, all the while being welcomed by gullible Westerners on his tours visiting synagogues and churches here.
“I personally know the pain that you have endured and that you continue to suffer. I am a survivor of the Holocaust,” he told the audience.
“The reaction was unbelievable,” he said, adding that the Muslim crowd mobbed him after the speech.
Of course they did. He just gave them what they’ve been hankering for: equating the deaths of their Islamic fighters with the Jewish Holocaust.
For those who are having difficulties understanding Israel, the story of Bosnia’s Muslims should be recommended reading.
Yes, take it from a publication that doesn’t know its ass from its elbow in the Balkans, on how to view Israel vis-a-vis Bosnia. Self-hating Jews much?
Then again, they’re also Brits. So they’re predisposed to Muslim-love and self-destruction.
The judgment of the Jews behind this rag is seriously in question before we even start, given their fascination with Bosniaks — and their credulousness toward Balkan-Muslim shills. It’s precisely when there’s such a historical and intellectual void that Islam rushes in to fill it. And so we have the next set of duped Jews.
Here’s where things get even stranger. The mufti whom Suljagic stumps for here — Ceric — is the same man who forced Suljagic out of his job as provincial minister of education in March. Having tried to make religious instruction classes optional (thus endangering the sinecures of hundreds of imams), he resigned after his mother got a live bullet in the mail, from the peace-loving, multi-culti Bosnian Muslims. Gee, Suljagic, whatever you need to tell yourself about Mladic and Serbs to make bearable the cognitive dissonance of your existence. Here is an item about the threat:
After a death threat last month, the Minister of Education in the Sarajevo canton resigned. Emir Suljagić’s offence was to have proposed that the mark for religion should not count (towards the average) in the schools of the canton, so as not to discriminate against those students choosing not to study it at school. His proposal set off furious reactions….One of his chief antagonists was the powerful head of the Islamic community in Bosnia Herzegovina, the Reis-Ulema Mustafa Cerić who today in Rome will receive an important award for his contribution to Peace.
Emir Suljagić is one of the few [sic: many] Bosnian Muslims to survive the siege and fall of Srebrenica. Having taken refuge in that town in Eastern Bosnia at the start of the war, he became an interpreter for the UN forces, thanks to the fact that he spoke English. He was the youth seen in the film at the Hague tribunal as he translated for the meeting between Mladic and the leader of the Dutch forces after the town had fallen…The author writes of the ferocity of the siege, of the crimes committed by the Bosnian Serb army and of the genocide. But Suljagić does not avert his gaze from the crimes committed by his “own people” — he describes the exploitation, misappropriations and corruption which prevailed in a town subject to the discretion of its military leaders…After the war, as a journalist, Suljagić covered the trials in the Hague Tribunal. Finally he entered politics, with the Social Democrats, becoming a Minister in January 2011.
“Leave Allah and his religion alone, or the hand of the faithful will strike you.” This was the message Suljagić found in an envelope in his letter box last February 8. Inside there was a 7.32 calibre bullet. Already the previous year his proposal to reduce the weight given to religion in schools had roused strong reactions leading him to offer his resignation. His Party (SDP) colleagues, however, at the head of the Sarajevo Canton, had given him their support and convinced him to remain. This time, though, he was alone and, after such a serious threat, decided to give up.
Criticism of his position came mainly from the leader of the Bosnian Islamic community, Reis-ulema Mustafa Cerić. In May last year, in a particularly biting speech to 30,000 faithful at Blagaj, Cerić attacked the Minister’s proposals, warning that the Muslims would take to the streets and create a “Sarajevo summer”…affirming that “the schools are ours” and condemning “those who want to do in Sarajevo what had been done in Srebrenica”, that is genocide. [NOTE: So a non-privileged, non-supreme status for Muslims in education is equivalent to the Srebrenica “genocide.”] In the same speech Cerić accused Vera Jovanović, President of the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Bosnia Herzegovina, who had backed Suljagić, of “hatred” towards Muslims. [NOTE: Being anything but Muslim is considered hatred toward Muslims. We learn further down that his objection to Jovanovic is that she’s Serb, not that she’s “anti-Muslim.”]
Following this, the Minister and his family had started to receive threats and hate mail. The episode of the bullet was the last of a long series. In his letter of resignation published on the Canton government website, Suljagić wrote, “those who hide behind religion to threaten me and my family use (religion) to keep the power and privileges they illegitimately acquired.”
After his resignation was announced, slogans appeared on the walls of the capital in favour of the Minister. The most frequent phrases, reported in the local newspapers, were, “We are all Emir”, “Dignity instead of ministerial posts” and “Beware of bullets”. A large banner stated that Suljagić was not “Minister for Obscurity” as he had been defined by a well-known Bosnian daily paper, but “the Minister for the teachers and their pupils” (Oslobodjenje, 14 February). In mid February in Sarajevo, some hundreds of people, including many teachers, took part in a demonstration in support of Suljagić. But the Minister did not go back on his steps. Some say he had already left the country.
…The signatories of the petition [against giving Ceric the Italian award]…describe Cerić as “a person who spreads hatred and intolerance on the basis of religion and one of those responsible for the radicalisation of believers in Bosnia Herzegovina”.
The President of the Foundation, Paolo Ducci, has however declared to OBC that “arguments and diatribes concerning the internal situation in Bosnia do not come into, and must not come into, the evaluation by the scientific committee (of the Foundation) which is restricted to the contribution made by Cerić at the international level as the promoter of inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue”. President Ducci also recalled the considerable recognition already awarded to Cerić in an international context and his participation in important initiatives like the International Commission for Peace Research and the World Council of Religions for Peace.
In other words, when we have the luxury of local evidence demonstrating that a Muslim leader is fooling us Westerners, classify it as “irrelevant,” since it gets in the way of our being fooled. Then cite other useful idiots he’s fooled, to justify the continuing charade.
Earlier that March, a few days before Ceric’s friend Mufti Aziz issued his anti-church fatwa, this item related to the above appeared in the Italian newspaper Il Piccolo:
The decision by Italy’s Ducci Foundation to award Grand Mufti Cerić its peace prize for his contribution to reconciliation in Bosnia-Herzegovina has sparked a wave of protests from those opposed to his divisive and provocative statements.
…A prominent Italian institution, the Ducci Foundation, has decided to honour him for his “contribution to peace and reconciliation” by granting him its peace prize next March, at Rome’s Campidoglio. But there is a setback – according to some Bosnian human rights activists, Cerić is nothing less [than] a fundamentalist, hidden under a fake image of tolerance.
This was repeated for Il Piccolo by Refik Hodžić, an influential activist for human rights and a leading documentary film-maker. Cerić “has been and is playing an increasingly important political role among Bosniaks, that often surpasses that of any politician”, explains Hodžić. “He is perfectly aware of that power and uses it often…in the continuation of wartime-like discourse of division and mistrust between Serbs and Bosniaks. Cerić…[portrays] Bosniaks as constantly under threat of repression and physical elimination, drawing on the suffering they endured during the nineties, and the Islamic Community and himself as their sole defenders”, illustrates the activist.
The actor, Fedja Stukan – one of the performers in Angelina Jolie’s latest movie, “In the Land of Blood and Honey” – is also fighting against the decision of the Ducci Foundation. Stukan, a Bosniak like Hodžić, is promoting an online petition to ask for the award to be revoked. Why? “Cerić has two opposite faces. One is his foreign policy, where he is a peace-preaching, and a peace-prize-winning Muslim leader. But in his own country, he is promoting everything but peace. He invites Muslims to hate the “godless”, and threatens them, very directly and publicly, with violence…
According to Stukan, several NGOs were threatened by Cerić, “such as the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights, and the CNA (Center for Non-Violent Action), that put a real effort into reconciling war veterans from all three sides. These NGOs were publicly marked as ‘Islamophobic’”, continues Stukan. In this way, Cerić “gives an open hand to his followers to attack, and that is exactly what happened a few years ago, when there was an attempt to organize a Gay pride parade in Sarajevo. All guest[s] and organizers were brutally beaten”.
Cerić is surely not the only culprit for increasing ethnic tensions in the country, “but his public statements around the issue of religiouseducationin Sarajevo Canton – a decision was made by the cantonal government to make religious education a non-binding subject in primary school, currently it is on par with maths, language and science – overstepped the mark”, clarifies Hodžić. “He publicly threatened violence unless the decision was withdrawn, saying that the government will have a ‘Sarajevo Spring’ on its hands unless it backtracks, and publicly berating the head of Helsinki Committee of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Vera Jovanovic”. She was speaking about the government’s decision in the context of human rights, but according to Cerić, “she had no business interpreting what Bosniak human rights are, as she serves the interests of Belgrade and those intent on destroying Bosniaks. This supposedly because she has a Serb name”. Although complaints about hate speech were made by several NGOs, no measures were taken against him at the time.
But who is Cerić really? A “radical”, as many activists state, or “the most liberal Grand Mufti in the world”, as his supporters depict him? “Grand Mufti Cerić’s call for Islamic Sharia law to be incorporated into Bosnia and Herzegovina’s constitution is one of the most divisive and illiberal statements of recent times; drawing sharp criticism, even from many moderate Bosniaks. In addition, prior to the terrorist attack against the US Embassy in Sarajevo last October, Cerić had failed to take sufficient steps to stem the growing influence of Wahhabism in Bosnia. Such instances severely weaken Cerić’s supposed liberal credentials”, explains Ian Bancroft, a commentator for The Guardian on Balkans and co-founder of TransConflict, an organization undertaking conflict transformation projects and research.
In relation to the peace award, Bancroft’s opinion is unambiguous: “As with Mufti Zukorlic in neighbouring Serbia, Cerić has too often undermined the separation of politics and religion. The latter has a key role to play in bridging inter-ethnic divides, but has instead often been employed for political ends. The influence of religion over Bosnia’s governing institutions continues to blight the prospects of sustainable peace. Rewarding [Cerić] will therefore be interpreted as a victory for those opposed to secularism”.
In the meantime, in Rome, an echo of the controversy reached the Ducci Foundation. “We based our decision for conferring the Peace prize on the judgment of our Scientific Committee…” declared Ambassador Paolo Ducci… “Grand Mufti Cerić is otherwise a member of the World Conference of Religions for Peace, and last year received the UNESCO Felix Houphouet-Boigny peace prize, together with Cardinal Etchegaray”, he adds.
[Stukan] promises…he will not give up in his fight, despite the heavy daily threats he is receiving.
“WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM ANNUAL MEETING 2009 - DAVOS-KLOSTERS/SWITZERLAND, 30 JAN ‘09 - Lord Carey of Clifton (VLTR), Archbishop of Canterbury (1991-2002), UK, Jonathan Sacks, Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, UK, Mustafa Ceric, Grand Mufti of Bosnia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Jim Wallis, Editor-in-Chief and Chief Executive Officer, Sojournes, USA, captured at the press conference ‘Religious leaders call for the peace in the middle east’…”
One can only shake her head that the Suljagic article and the Cvetkovic item come to us from supposedly the same London Jewish Chronicle that on September 2, 1994 knew at least this much:
‘Sarajevo Jews Arrested’
Sarajevo Jews have been hit by an apparent campaign to discredit the community and its leaders, the JC learned this week.
Communal leaders contacted by telephone said police had arrested and interrogated a number of Sarajevo Jews, some of whom hold dual Bosnian-Israeli citizenship. They were later released. Police also reportedly seized passports and communal documents.
Local Jewish leaders are viewing the police action with grave concern — especially since the Jewish community has strived to maintain the trust of all parties in the conflict, providing humanitarian assistance to whoever needed it.
The campaign reportedly began on July 14, when a car with four Jewish passengers was searched and its occupants detained for “informative talks.” Later, the vice-president of the community, Danilo Nikolic, was reportedly held for five days, during which he was interrogated 10 hours a day. Sonya Elazar, head of a Jewish women’s organisation in Sarajevo, and the niece of the late Lieutenant-General David “Dado” Elazar, the Israeli chief of staff during the 1973 Yom Kippur War, has also been questioned.
Ivan Ceresnjec, president of the Sarajevo community, said the police seemed intent upon establishing that Jews had been conniving with the enemy. “They are trying to discredit leading persons in the community. We are a totally unpolitical organisation,” he said.
Mr. Ceresnjec said allegations by Bosnian officials that Jews were acting against Bosnian national interest were “totally unfounded. We are helping civilians on all sides. All parties have expressed their gratitude for what we are doing. We have been literally risking our lives to save lives,” he said.
Is it really the same Jewish Chronicle that published the late Sir Alfred Sherman, close adviser to Margaret Thatcher, on Sept. 30, 1994 with this:
…Shortly before his trip to Washington in a bid to work out common policy with the US Administration, President Alija Izetbegovic of Bosnia visited Zenica, de facto capital of Bosnia’s Muslim heartland.
His purpose was to carry forward arrangements for the re-imposition of sharia — Islamic law — in the republic. This would restore unified religious authority such as existed in Ottoman days.
Among measures proposed are the restoration of polygamy, which existed before Bosnia’s incorporation into the Yugoslav monarchy in 1918 (to be limited to a maximum of three wives per man); the criminialisation of marriage of Muslim women to non-Muslim men (the reverse is permitted); and the prohibition of alcohol.
Western media reports of the war in the former Yugoslavia have led us to believe that a majority of Bosnian Muslims were always enlightened and Westernised. Journalistic gullibility apart, this was a half-truth at best.
True, some middle-class Muslims wanted to fit into the secular-cum-Christian world of Yugoslavia. But Mr Izetbegovic’s minority government was backed by a fanatical and brutal militia, and thousands of militants from abroad, in alliance with that section of the old Communist Party which chose to stay put. Heterodox Muslims — or Yugoslavs of Muslim descent, as some put it — had the choice of joining the bandwagon, keeping their own counsel, or leaving, whether for Serbia, as thousands have done, or abroad. The changed world balance-of-power has meanwhile encouraged the Muslim leadership in Bosnia to press for a fully Muslim polity, and for maximalist territorial ambitions, now evidently supported in Washington and Bonn.
Discerning support in Washington for Muslim claims on the former Sanjak of Novi Pazar…Mr Izetbegovic is working actively to create a “Green Corridor” from Bosnia through the Sanjak to Kosovo. [As in Islamic green.]
This would separate Serbia from Montenegro and Greece and facilitate Albanian pressures on Montenegro and Macedonia, with their Albanian minorities, many of them illegally resident there.
With US support, Germany is in effect fostering this Islamistan, and developing increasingly close working relations with Iran, whose rulers are keen to establish a European base for their politico-religious activities.
By contrast, Washington is keen on involving its NATO ally Turkey, which has been moving away from Ataturk’s secularist and Western stance back to a more Ottomanist, pan-Muslim orientation, and is actively helping the Muslim forces.
Mr. Izetbegovic is mooting mass immigration of Turks into Bosnia from Anatolia. This would strengthen the new Muslim state’s demographic and military base for further rounds against the Serbs, and also against the Bosnian-Hercegovinan Croats.
Muslim-Croat collaboration suits Croatian President Tudjman, whose hatred of the Serbs virtually excludes other considerations.
In the opinion of Croats, and many Serbs, the root of the present conflict lies in the creation by the late Yugoslav leader, Tito, of a separate Muslim nationality, a regression to the system which had operated under Turkish rule.
So long as Islam is treated as a nationality in the former Yugoslavia, multi-faith, polyethnic entities are ruled out by the Muslim leadership’s drive to restore the sharia.
The Serbs and Croats, whether believers or not, wish for a more or less secular state in which religion is depoliticised and seen mainly as a private matter, permitting religious pluralism in areas where various religious groups cohabit.
In the Bosnians’ and world Muslim view, however, God’s hand is working on their behalf. Their diplomatic backing and their multi-million-dollar public relations campaign in America and Europe have left the Serbs as isolated as the Czechs at the time of Munich.
Why, oh why, is such historical amnesia — even of history as recent as the 90s — reserved for the Balkans, and always at the expense of the Serbs?
Even as early as 1992, London Jewish Chronicle was publishing Sherman’s warnings, as the Serb-American scholar Srdja Trifkovic reminded us in his Sherman obituary in August 2006:
As early as 1992, writing in London’s Jewish Chronicle, Sherman warned against the lapse of logic in confusing the present plight of Bosnian Muslims with that of European Jewry under Hitler. “It does us no good…when third parties in their own interests take the name of our martyrs in vain; Bosnia is not occupied Europe; the Muslims are not the Jews; the Serbs did not begin the civil war, but are predictably responding to a real threat”:
“Some years ago, I, among others, warned that, whatever the logic of establishing Yugoslavia in the first place, any attempt at hurried dismemberment, particularly along Tito’s internal demarcation lines, would lead to armed conflict, self-intensifying bloodshed and floods of refugees . . . Since 1990, the independent Croatian leadership — with its extreme chauvinist and clericalist colouring — and the Bosnian Muslim leadership — seeking, in its Islamic fundamentalist programme, to put the clock back to Ottoman days — have threatened to turn the Serbs back into persecuted minorities… The Serbs cannot forget that, in living memory, the ‘Independent Croatian State,’ set up by Hitler in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, massacred close on half of the Serbian population — which was then the largest of the three communities in Bosnia — and as many Jews as it could lay hands on . . . If there is any parallel with the Holocaust, it is the martyrdom of the Serbs in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, who account for a third of the Serbian nation.”
Both the Croatian and Muslim leaderships enjoy support and encouragement from Germany, Sherman noted, and from militantly Islamic governments of Iran and Saudi Arabia. On the other hand, though Serbian refugees from Croatia and Bosnia outnumbered Croatian and Muslim refugees combined, the media virtually ignore them:
“It reminds one of the late 1930’s, when most of the British press demonised the Czechs at Downing Street’s behest, denouncing them as a threat to European peace and for ill-treating their peaceful German Sudetenland minority; ‘Herr’ Hitler, by contrast was held up as a reasonable man . . . It is almost invariably the innocent who suffer in war. But that does not equate them with victims of the Holocaust, any more than being a Jew automatically qualifies one to pronounce on Yugoslavia. This needs to meet the Serbs’ legitimate claim to self-rule with religious and cultural freedoms, otherwise they will go on fighting even if the whole world is mobilised against them . . . This will not be achieved so long as European Community foreign policy is made in Bonn, whose agenda entails the reversal not only of Versailles, but also of the post-1945 settlement.”
Almost a decade ago, well before Iraq and 9-11, Sherman saw that Washington had “set up the cornerstone of a European Islamistan in Bosnia and a Greater Albania, thus paving the way for further three-sided conflict between Moslems, Serbs and Croats…Far from creating a new status quo it has simply intensified instability.” The U.S. may succeed in establishing its hegemony…“but it will also inherit long-standing ethno-religious conflicts and border disputes without the means for settling them.”
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