‘We betrayed the legacy of the Holocaust’: Professor Yair Auron pushes Israel to confront complicity with Bosnian genocide

Israel/Palestine
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“We betrayed the legacy of the Holocaust when we’re committing acts like this,” Professor Yair Auron said. “To sell weapons to Serbia or to Rwanda during the genocide is similar to selling weapons to Nazi Germany during the Second World War. No country has the right to do it and especially not Israel.”

Yair Auron, a professor of Holocaust and genocide studies at the Open University of Israel is on a mission to bring Israeli officials complicit in the Bosnian genocide to account.

Under the public’s right-to-know, Auron and Jerusalem-based human rights lawyer Eitay Mack submitted a petition requesting the state to reveal its documents regarding Israel’s complicity in the Bosnian genocide.

The two presented their collected evidence, which they say proves that the Israeli government trained Serb forces and supplied them with weapons during the war in Bosnia.

Last month Israel’s Supreme Court rejected their petition claiming it would damage the state’s security and foreign relations. But Professor Auron says they’ll submit another claim- this time against specific individuals involved in supplying arms.

“I’m not expecting them to decide that they’re criminals. They’ll find one way or another to avoid the issue. But for me this is a basic moral issue. It’s a crime. And somebody who commits a crime like this needs to be punished,” Auron said.

His friends call him Don Quixote and some say he’s too naïve, but for Auron, this is simply his duty.

“I’m first a human being. But I’m a Jew. As part of a victim group, we have even more of a responsibility to try to avoid present and future killings. But we are doing the opposite,” Auron said.

Attorney Mack explained that even if the Supreme Court rejected their petition, the decision is still significant since the judges didn’t deny the existence of evidence of arms exports and also admitted that they have the documents to prove it.

Worst atrocities committed in Europe since the Holocaust

The breakup of Yugoslavia that started in 1991 with Slovenia and Croatia first seceding, escalated into a war in Bosnia & Herzegovina that culminated in a genocide and the worst atrocities Europe had witnessed since the Holocaust.

From 1992-1995 Serb forces waged a war in Bosnia & Herzegovina to ethnically cleanse Muslims in the region for a “Greater Serbia.” 250,000 Bosnians were killed and an estimated 20,000-60,000 Bosnian women were raped. Others were wounded and tortured in concentration camps.

On July 11, 1995 Serb forces systematically killed around 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men in the supposedly UN-protected enclave of Srebrenica under the command of General Ratko Mladic who is currently on trial at The Hague accused of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The following is evidence that Auron and Mack have collected from open sources including testimonies from journalists and human rights activists. Among the conclusions is that Israel was supplying weapons to Serb forces even after the UN Security Council established an arms embargo in September 1991.

Training Serb army

In a trial at the International Criminal Tribunal of Former Yugoslavia, Dusan Kovacevic, the former Bosnian Serb defense minister stated he was visiting the Greek prime minister in March 1995 when he was contacted by Israel’s Mossad and offered military aid.

“It wasn’t something that happened at my request. It was the Israeli intelligence service who contacted me during my visit to Greece while I was visiting these ministers… More specifically, the Mossad,” Kovacevic said.

“They informed me about quite a large number of Mujahedin being dispatched to Bosnia-Herzegovina.  They told me all about the channels along which this operated and all about who was bank-rolling the whole operation… They offered both weapons, a minor amount albeit, and to train our men for free, but this was only to apply to fighting the Mujahedin.”

Ratko Mladic also wrote in his diary: “From Israel – they offer joint combat against Islamic extremists. They offered to train our men in Greece at their expense. They offered us special weapons for 500 men – snipers for free…”

Supplying weapons

Dr. Cees Wiebes documented an arms deal between Israel and Serbia in a report prepared for the Dutch government’s investigation regarding Srebrenica:

“Traditionally, Belgrade considered Israel, Russia and Greece as its best friends. The state of Israel had in fact always taken a strongly pro-Serb position. In the autumn of 1991 Serbia had successfully placed a large secret arms order in Israel.

“The intermediary in this was Jezdimir Vasiljevic, a banker and a confidant of Milosevic. In October 1991, he reached an agreement with Israel, and after that transactions went via the Croat Boris Krasni and the state companies Jugoeksport and Jugoslavija Publik.”

Dobrila Gajic-Glisic, a former official of the Serbian Ministry of Defense confirmed this in her book, The Serbian Army:

“Certainly one of the biggest deals was made by Jezdimir Vasiljevic in October 1991 in Israel. For understandable reasons, the details of that deal with the Jews were not made public at the time. It was a complicated and difficult deal. But it was made successfully.”

The Netherlands Institute for War Documentation noted allegations that in 1992 Bosnian Serbs allowed the Jewish community in Sarajevo to leave the city in exchange for arms supplies from Israel.

Wiebes noted more indications of Israel’s involvement: “At the end of 1994, an investigation into the remains of a mortar grenade on Sarajevo airfield revealed that it bore Hebrew letters, and in August 1995, a news program on Israeli television reported that private Israeli arms dealers were supplying the VRS [Bosnian Serb army]. This must have taken place with the consent of the government.”

Joel Weinberg, an Israeli who had volunteered for a humanitarian organization in Bosnia also testified that he saw Serbs carrying Israeli-made Uzi guns.

Legacy of the Holocaust

Last April the Supreme Court also rejected their petition to reveal state documents regarding arms exports to Rwanda during the genocide. The court similarly claimed it would not advance the public interest and would harm state security and foreign relations.

“They’re making me a criminal because I’m a citizen of the state of Israel who commits this crime,” Auron explained. “I am not Sancho Panza in Don Quixote. They have to know there are people in Israel who will not let them to continue with this crime.”

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Israel was ranked as the eighth largest arms exporter in the world in 2015, a significant achievement for a small country. Amid the refugee crisis in 2015, Israel’s weapons sales to Europe more than doubled, Haaretz reported.

Auron says he’s the only professor in the entire country who teaches genocide studies with a universal approach, without the Jewish, Zionist perspective. Much of Israeli policy and society are mired in racism, the one necessary component for any genocide to occur, Auron explained.

“For me, the legacy of the Holocaust is the holiness of human life and the equality of human life. As human beings we are different but we are all human beings. As Bosnians, Serbians, Jews and Palestinians, we are all the same,” Auron said.

“The life of a Palestinian is the same as the life of a Jew. We are not superior to them. We were born equal. This is the most significant lesson from the Holocaust for me.”

About Mersiha Gadzo

Mersiha Gadzo is a multimedia journalist. Her articles have appeared in Al Jazeera, CBC, Canadian Dimension and the Middle East Eye. She tweets at @MersihaGadzo.

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13 Responses

  1. Jackdaw
    December 13, 2016, 2:05 pm

    “They offered both weapons, a minor amount albeit, and to train our men for free, but this was only to apply to fighting the Mujahedin. ”

    That’s it? That’s all they got! That’s Israel’s contribution to a ‘genocide’?

    ROFLMAO.

    • K Renner
      December 19, 2016, 11:18 pm

      @Hasbarat

      ““They offered both weapons, a minor amount albeit, and to train our men for free, but this was only to apply to fighting the Mujahedin. ” ”

      The testimony of a Serbian genocidaire. A lying, conniving, Eastern Orthodox supremacist snake.

      I mean, stands to reason that you’d see someone like that as trustworthy in what he says. For normal, non-sociopathic people, though…

      ” That’s it? That’s all they got! That’s Israel’s contribution to a ‘genocide’? ”

      Figures that you’d actively try and deny that the Serbs were genocidal or what they did amounted to attempted genocide, lol.

      Absolutely disgusting to see you snigger at the attempted extermination of the Bosniaks, as well as a mass culling of the Croatian people. But they’re “only” Muslims and Catholics, right?

      ” ROFLMAO”

      Repulsive.

      • Mooser
        December 20, 2016, 11:28 am

        “Absolutely disgusting to see you snigger at the attempted extermination”

        Mr. “Renner”, I will apologize for “Jackdaw”. The knowledge that there are 2 billion Jews on earth makes us a little insular, and somewhat overconfident.

      • Keith
        December 20, 2016, 5:22 pm

        K RENNER- “Figures that you’d actively try and deny that the Serbs were genocidal or what they did amounted to attempted genocide, lol.”

        Figures that you would regurgitate the imperial propaganda used to justify a brutal imperial intervention. You have done this before. I know, I know, if you can’t trust the imperial MSM to provide the unbiased truth, who can you trust?

      • Sibiriak
        December 20, 2016, 10:31 pm

        @Keith

        K Brenner appears to be some kind of fanatical anti-Russian bigot.

        How else to explain comments like:

        A lying, conniving, Eastern Orthodox supremacist snake. [emphasis added]

        Nasty vilification of the Eastern Orthodox church is a hallmark of a malignant Ukrainian-style hatred-driven ethno-nationalism.

        Or:

        [K Renner: ] Opposition to boorish, potato-faced Russian ethno-nationalists is about the only thing the likes of McCain and Lindsey Graham get right when it comes to geopolitics. [emphasis added]

        http://mondoweiss.net/2016/12/israel-advocates-trumps/#comment-862953

        Potato-faced ” Wtf? I have no problem listening to a rational critique of Russian policy in Ukraine, Syria etc. even if I disagree with it. But the “potato-faced” slur is just despicable anti-Russian racism.

        [K Renner: ] I for one would have no problem with Ukrainian atheletes refusing to shake hands with Russians, or spitting at Russians, or hitting Russians, because of the war in Donetsk. [emphasis added]

        http://mondoweiss.net/2016/08/milestone-the-olympics/#comment-852453

        Advocating physically assaulting individual Russian athletes at public events? K Renner is a raging anti-Russian bigot of the worse kind, completely unable to control his/her violent emotions.

        [K Renner: ] As Israel is responsible for the conflict with the Palestinians, Russia is responsible for the situation in East Ukraine.

        The analogy is completely wrong, of course. But given K Renner’s raging bigotry and demonstrated inability to engage in rational discourse, I think it would be a waste of time to get into a factual debate with him/her. YMMV.

  2. gamal
    December 13, 2016, 3:17 pm

    “I’m first a human being. But I’m a Jew. As part of a victim group, we have even more of a responsibility to try to avoid present and future killings. But we are doing the opposite,”

    and it’s ongoing in South Sudan, where Israel is joined by the US, Qatar and Saudi in betraying themselves and the rest of us.

    http://landdestroyer.blogspot.ie/2014/01/the-plundering-of-south-sudan.html

    And as regards atrocity i wonder might Americans consider getting their government to ratify the ICC and cancel the US’ 38 bi-lateral agreements to avoid its regimen and until then to be silent about their opponents war crimes as it is the US/EU which has bankrupted the ICC morally that is…

    “Africa, Russia, United States Imperialism and the Bankruptcy of the International Criminal Court

    …..

    Imperialists War Crimes Should be Investigated and Prosecuted

    Just over the last decade-and-a-half, the U.S., Britain, France and other imperialist states have committed horrendous war crimes in Afghanistan, Iraq, Haiti, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Sudan and other geo-political regions. These crimes are related to the intervention and occupations of nation-states based on false pretenses designed to eliminate independent governments and the seizure of their resources.

    As a direct result of these massive bombings, invasions, occupations and partitions, tens of millions of people have been displaced, impoverished and disenfranchised. Millions have died in combined military actions against Afghanistan, Iraq, Haiti, Libya, Syria and other countries.

    The plight of the Palestinian people, subjected to nearly 70 years of Israeli occupation, has worsened while the imperialist governments have increased their funding, arming and diplomatic support for Tel Aviv. Gaza, popularly referred to as the largest open-air prison in the world, remains under de facto Israeli occupation along with other areas of Palestine and the Golan Heights in Syria.

    At some point these crimes must be legally addressed along with the development of the Atlantic Slave Trade, colonialism, neo-colonialism and the denial of full participation in the UN and other international bodies by the imperialist governments. The abolition of the effectiveness of the ICC should pave the way for a broader discussion on the creation of a genuine world body to pursue war crimes and the violations of the fundamental human rights of the majority of the world’s population.”

    http://www.globalresearch.ca/africa-russia-united-states-imperialism-and-the-bankruptcy-of-the-international-criminal-court/5558981

  3. YoniFalic
    December 13, 2016, 3:35 pm

    Such nonsense. The State of Israel was founded after Auschwitz (and after the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal) in post-Auschwitz genocide. EEuro Zios planned genocide already in 1880s. They put the plan into effect in 1947-48 and continue the genocide to this day. I participated by murdering unarmed Pali men, women, and children during Cast Lead. Auron is a Zionist fake academic, who works for Zio control of international discourse over genocide and the Holocaust.

    http://forward.com/news/135484/top-genocide-scholars-battle-over-how-to-character/

    • Stephen Shenfield
      December 13, 2016, 6:28 pm

      Yes, Auron demands that Israel take a principled stand on genocides in other parts of the world (he has also campaigned for Israel to recognize the Armenian genocide) not just on general humanitarian grounds but also by reference to the principle that ‘victim groups’ should show solidarity with one another. This means he is reinforcing the false claim that Jews as such, including Israeli Jews, are a ‘victim group’ — thereby helping to make Israel’s own victims invisible. If Israel behaved in the way Auron would like Zionist mystification would be even more effective.

      • Stephen Shenfield
        December 13, 2016, 6:54 pm

        I want to add that nationalist Serbs too can — and frequently do — claim to be a ‘victim group’ by referring to the mass killings of Serbs by the Croat fascist Ustasha regime during the war. This is an exact parallel to the claim of present-day Zionist Jews to the status of ‘victim group’ by harping on the Holocaust. In both cases the false consciousness of the ‘eternal victim’ facilitates atrocities in the present.

  4. bryan
    December 13, 2016, 6:03 pm

    In a long history of war-criminals selling arms to fellow war-criminals, Israel has sold arms to many of the worst offenders in the world: South Africa (under Apartheid), Iran (under the Shah), Romania and China (under Communism), Morocco, Turkey, Indonesia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Zaire – in fact anywhere that some other governments had scruples about permitting their arms dealers to trade with. Why should we be surprised that a regime that has always attempted to subvert the rule of international law and decent standards attempts to do so (any more than we would be surprised that Czechoslovakia, UK, France, USA sell to murderous regimes). No hope for humanity until governments can be restricted from selling arms to human rights violators. Anyone for a Middle Eastern nuclear Free Zone?

  5. Citizen
    December 14, 2016, 5:03 am

    “Aaron says he’s the only professor in the entire country who teaches genocide studies with a universal approach, without the Jewish, Zionist perspective. ”

    I guess the rest think they are Jews first, then human beings? My.

  6. ToivoS
    December 16, 2016, 4:18 am

    I hate to minimize the horrors of the Bosnian civil war but the number killed was half the number mentioned in this article. There were also many Serbs and Croats killed as well. The stories of mass, systematic rape were mostly just anti-Serbian propaganda. There were no concentration camps either.

  7. Keith
    December 20, 2016, 5:16 pm

    MERSIHA GADZO- “The breakup of Yugoslavia that started in 1991 with Slovenia and Croatia first seceding, escalated into a war in Bosnia & Herzegovina that culminated in a genocide and the worst atrocities Europe had witnessed since the Holocaust.

    From 1992-1995 Serb forces waged a war in Bosnia & Herzegovina to ethnically cleanse Muslims in the region for a “Greater Serbia.” 250,000 Bosnians were killed and an estimated 20,000-60,000 Bosnian women were raped. Others were wounded and tortured in concentration camps.”

    The plans to breakup Yugoslavia occurred before 1991, the German BND (CIA equivalent) initially headed by former Nazi General Reinhard Gehlen initiating contact with former WWII allies the Croats. The US became formally involved in 1990, when the U.S. Congress passed the Foreign Operations Law of 1991 which, among other things, specified a cut-off of all aid, credits and loans to Yugoslavia within six months. The World Bank and IMF were directed to follow suite. The only money to be permitted was to go to the right-wing separatist forces. It was, in effect, a declaration of economic war against Yugoslavia. The CIA predicted a bloody civil war as a consequence. Of course, that was the intent. http://saskck.blogspot.com/2005_10_01_archive.html

    I am not going to go into a lot of detail on this which we have covered before. Suffice to say that the depiction of events by Mersiha Gadzo is a regurgitation of imperial propaganda used to justify the imperial intervention used to dismember Yugoslavia and justify and expand NATO. Empires don’t do humanitarian anything. Had the US and NATO not become involved, virtually none of this would have happened. Those interested in more detail can read the entire link and/or go to my commenter’s profile and search “Yugoslavia” and/or other keywords. There are some good books on this by Johnstone, Parenti, Chomsky and others. We live in an age of constant deception where the information battlespace is a critically important part of modern hybrid warfare, and the demonization process is standard procedure.

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