Fighting Misinformation
by Jared Israel

July 25, 1999 - Note from the Editor: Serbs are being killed under the complacent eyes of KFOR and we can do nothing. Romas are being killed and we can only watch when NATO is much too preoccupied with clearing the place for the benefits of our business vultures. Comes Winter and the tragedy will deepen to an unheard proportion. The ecological damages unleashed by our senseless and criminal bombing campaign will reverberate for many years, perhaps decades… Will people ever listen? Shall we ever understand the power games that only profit the super, immensely rich robber barons (10 percent of American households possess over 75 percent of America's wealth)? Anyway, I am rumbling and wasting your time… This week, Swans publishes two articles-thanks to Rick and Roland-which illuminates the deception, the misinformation and the injustice. You will find Jared Israel's letter particularly compelling.

Last week the Northern California Jewish Bulletin published an op-ed piece by one Brad Blitz which made outrageous charges against the Serbian people. I and other Jews see this as a campaign, vigorously pursued since the early 90's, and unfortunately supported by powerful Jewish leaders, to turn Jews against the Serbs, historically our allies. Below is my reply to Mr. Blitz, followed by his piece. - Jared

Northern California Jewish Bulletin
225 Bush Street, Suite 1480
San Francisco, CA 94104-4201

To the editor:

As a Jew and a progressive (i.e., I'm on the left) I reject Brad Blitz's mix of innuendo and misinformation ("Unveiling connections between Sacramento, Kosovo," July 9, 1999) aimed at smearing Serbs as Fascists. Blitz simultaneously suggests and denies he is suggesting that Serbs caused the racist bombing of California synagogues. The whole editorial reminds me of -- anti-Semitism.

To justify NATO's nine year policy of dismembering Yugoslavia and its 78 day obliteration of places of worship, schools, factories, markets and other civilian facilities as well as the use of antipersonnel weapons (cluster bombs), openly justified as an attempt to pressure (terrorize) the Serbs into submission, and to obscure the current wholesale assault on multiethnic life in Kosovo, the press has engaged in massive Serbophobia. Lying through use of rumors, unconfirmed reports, evidence deemed reliable by NATO, ludicrously illogical conclusions, suppression of counter evidence, the uncritical reporting of NATO-instigated fabrications and the silencing of critical opposition views, the media remakes the Serbian people: Fascists.

Blitz says Serbia has "renounced [ethnic] inclusion]...and crushed minorities." Nonsense. Serbia's pride is its 26 national groups with schools and media in their own languages, funded by the government. Nine languages are mandatory in Court proceedings. It is Albanian secessionist organizers who enforced an Albanian boycott of schools, hospitals, courts, etc., in their language during the '90s.

"Serbia has never had only Serbs living in it. Today, more than in the past, members of other peoples and nationalities also live in it. This is not a disadvantage for Serbia. I am truly convinced that it is its advantage."

That's a quote from the 1989 Kosovo Field speech by Milosevic The speech has been misrepresented along with everything else about the Serbian government as chauvinist. Milosevic goes on to warn that nationalism is being promoted by outside Powers to destroy Serbia and Yugoslavia. When the bombing began, the Serbian parliament increased the penalties for hate crimes. (You can read the whole speech at The Emperors Clothes )

The KLA is rooted in a long-standing racist, secessionist movement. As far back as 1982, the NY Times described the secessionist program as:

"first to establish what they call an ethnically clean Albanian republic [in Kosovo] and then the merger with Albania to form a greater Albania. " (NY Times, July 12, 1982.)

Alas, the pro-Nazi Kosovo Albanian organizations in W.W.II were mass-based; these men (women are largely excluded from leadership among the secessionists) and their sons formed the secessionist movement when the Partisans drove them from power at the end of W.W.II and they first "popularized" the term "ethnic cleansing" to describe what they wanted in Kosovo. Now, while NATO troops watch "helplessly" the KLA expresses its program in action, murderously purging Kosovo of Serbs, Roma ("Gypsies"), Goran (Slavic Muslims), Turks, and especially ethnic Albanians who support multiethnic Serbia. All documented. The secessionists' "greater Albania" existed only under Fascist & Nazi rule, during W.W.II, when their forbears' regime slaughtered and evicted Serbs, Jews, Roma, leftists, etc. This Greater (?) Albania is being recreated under NATO protection today.

An NBC news correspondent reported, with bizarre cheerfulness:

PRIZREN, Yugoslavia, June 18 - I was at dinner with a kind Kosovo Muslim family the other night when talk turned to the German NATO troops that rolled into town to make the city the headquarters of its peacekeeping district. The patriarch of the family, a man old enough to remember the last time German troops rolled into Prizren, said they all felt safe now. "The German soldiers are excellent," he said. Then he added, "I should know, I used to be one." Then he raised his arm in a Nazi salute and said, "Heil," and laughed merrily. (end NBC story)

Blitz dismisses as right wing propaganda the KLA's link to Islamic Fundamentalism and the heroin trade. It's actually worse. As Prof. Michel Chossudovsky (a socialist economist) has shown, the KLA is a CIA creation from gangster material, much like the contras, but meaner. (Chossudovsky's KLA: Grim Origins can be read at The Emperors Clothes )

Yugoslav Jews are virtually unanimous in condemning our media's "unrestrained anti-Serbian propaganda, raging during all this war, following the Nazi model, but much more efficient means and in a much more sophisticated and more expensive way." (See letter from Danon Cadik, Chief Rabbi of Yugoslavia, at The Emperors Clothes )

The Serbs, who lost 750,000 to Holocaust extermination camps because they refused to help Hitler round up the Jews during W.W.II are justifiably appalled that some Jewish organizations have helped demonize them. Amazingly, this has not yet produced widespread anti-Semitism. When I spoke at a protest rally in Washington, April 24, to a crowd including perhaps 10,000 Serbian Americans, I began my speech by saying: "I am a Jew." What I can only describe as a roar of welcome sprang from 10,000 throats. I condemned the war and the avalanche of anti-Serb lies in the press. After the speech I was thanked by literally hundreds of people. Many told me how their families had hidden Jews from the Nazi's how they had been taught that Serbs And Jews are brothers. My writings attacking the Protocols Of Zion are universally approved by Serbs. These people are anti-Semites? Right, and I'm the Easter bunny.

The Chief Rabbi of Yugoslavia said: "Even American Jews were not able to withstand this propagandistic poison, although they were especially expected to resist. Unfortunately, they did not recognize the Nazi and racist nature of the Serbophobic dogma. They did not identify Serbophobia as a twin sister of anti-Semitism, this being not unknown in the United States."

Mr. Blitz' notion that neo-Nazi's are pro-Serbian is nonsense. There have been several groups of non-Army foreigners fighting in the Balkans. The documented evidence: Israeli's, Russians and Bulgarians have fought on the Serbian side in Kosovo. German neo-Nazi's and Islamic Fundamentalists (including bin Laden's boys) have helped the Bosnian Fundamentalist government and the KLA. As for Internet posturing, please Mr. Blitz. You can find all parts of the political spectrum on both sides on the Kosovo Issue on the Web.

One of the monuments NATO bombed consisted of a line of Orthodox crosses met by a line of Stars of David in a park near the spot where the Nazi's forced 3000 Jews and Serbs onto the Danube ice, then broke the ice. Jews and Serbs died in one another's arms. Until the monument was destroyed by NATO bombing (was it US or German planes?) it was common to see Serbs sitting at this spot and weeping. And indeed, there is much about which to weep.

Mr. Blitz is totally misinformed, or he is an awful liar. Would he care to debate? Any time, any place.

Respectfully yours,
Jared Israel

Here is what I was replying to:

Northern California Jewish Bulletin
July 9, 1999

Unveiling connections between Sacramento, Kosovo

I was not surprised when I learned that three synagogues in Sacramento has been firebombed by suspected white supremacist groups. Nor was I stunned to discover that the arsonists had targeted the Jewish community, blaming Jewish individuals in the media and government for steering NATO's actions in Yugoslavia.

Over the past few months, some fellow academics and I had been monitoring the rise of hateful propanda in which the Jewish conspiracy line has been used to draw sympathy for the Serbs and boost ultranationalists organizations. From our perspective, it was only a matter of time before the infection spread from Serbia to the West.

In spite of the contact between Serbs and neo-Nazis over the internet, there has been virtually no discussion of the Serb's complicity in the hateful propaganda that preceded last month's bombings. The Sacramento Bee reported that the leaflet found by one of the buildings mentioned the Serbian cause, but it quickly rejected any notion that there was a connection between events in Kosovo and Sacramento.

Instead, it focused on how the community reacted to the bombings. For over a week, the Bee continued to present a sickening sweet picture of a multicultural city in which no one was to blame except a handful of hateful individuals, still a large. The paper condemned the idea of hate but chose not to take a deeper look in to last month's attack. I believe there is a connection between Kosovo and Sacramento--one that directly affects the safety of Jews and other minorities. No, I am not charging Serbs with the arson. The attacks have the markings of far-right groups. And, let me stress, there is no basis to believe that members of the Serbian-American community harbor anti-Semitic feelings or engage in terrorism.

But I do believe that the arsonists were encouraged by two things: the xenophobic rhetoric from Yugoslavia that is actively parroted by the Serbian disapora and, above all, by the hate crimes committed in the Balkans.

Let me explain. While many argue that white supremacists do not need excuses to bomb Jewish property, there is an additional point that needs to be considered. Far-right groups are opportunistic.

They look for events and dress up their crude anti-Semitism in contemporary themes as if to legitimize their illegitimate and hateful projects. In this case, Jews were not charged with murdering Christian babies. They were accused of directing American's and hence NATO's policies in the Balkans.

This is the first time that the Jewish conspiracy argument has been repackaged with Yugoslav wrapping, and at some level, one must ask where the groups that bombed Sacramento found such inspiration.

Without second guessing the arsonists, there are some facts that cannot be ignored--not least the degree to which neo-Nazi and Serbian organizations have been exchanging information and promoting each other's chauvinistic causes.

On behalf of the Serbs, rightwing groups have circulated anti-Muslim and anti-Albanian slogans. They have repeated the false accusations that the Kosovars are fundamentalists and have recast the wars in Bosnia and Kosovo as civil wars rather than admit the truth behind Serbia's occupation and genocidal programs.

On behalf of rightwing groups, the Serbian-American community has financed extremists who are also in the service of Europe's leading neo-NAZI politicians. They have attracted racists and given them public platforms from which they fashioned their prejudices into policies for southeastern Europe.

More important, however, are the ideological ties between Serbia proper and the far right. Ultranationalist groups throughout North America and Europe have cheered on the Serbian campaigns of ethnic cleansing. For the ultranationalists, ethnic cleansing makes sense. Reflecting the way they view the world, the Serbs enthusiasitically renounced the ideals of inclusion and proportional representation and crushed minorities in their way.

For ultranationalists, the war against Bosnia was hailed not only as a rejection of Bosnia's multiethnic existence, but as a rejection of multiculturalism in general. Now, neo-Nazis are celebrating the Serbs brave struggle against "Muslim barbarians" and have described the war in Kosovo as a battle for Christendom. In short, the Serbs have become the pin-up boys of the far right.

In this context, why is anyone surprised to see white supremacists acting out what their Serbian idols are doing overseas, by torching the sites of the minorities they hate? The leaflet acknowledges as much. Why can't we?


The writer is an assistant professor of political science at Lewis and Clark College, Portland Ore,, and co-author of a forthcoming book on U.S. foreign policy in southeastern Europe.


This Week's Other Article:

Will NATO be held accountable for war crimes? by Michael Mandel


Resources on the War in Yugoslavia and its Aftermath


Articles Published on Swans Regarding the War in Yugoslavia and its Aftermath

Published July 25, 1999
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