Sunday, June 24, 2012

Revising History for the Holocaust Leverage

Whether it was the words out of Stuart Eizenstat’s mouth or it was, as Julia Gorin claims, Haaretz’s “strained insertion,” the article published in the Israeli Haaretz newspaper on Friday did accuse Serbia of participating in the Holocaust and did call on the European Union “to exact the maximum amount of leverage” against countries applying for membership, namely Croatia and Serbia, to coerce them “to take responsibility for their roles in the Holocaust.” Those were loaded words regardless of who spoke them. They were loaded on many levels.
It would not be the first time a newspaper with agenda puts words in people’s mouth to “set the mood” for furthering that agenda. However, Stuart Eizenstat is not just anybody. Before he was a lobbyist for Covington and Burling and a senior strategist for APCO Worldwide communications consultancy firm, Eizenstat was, among other things, the U.S. Ambassador to the EU (1993-1996). In this capacity, he served as a kind of a Holocaust compensation czar, i.e. he was one of the foremost agents of what Norman Finkelstein famously branded “the Holocaust industry.’’ Namely, Eizenstat went after selected European countries, beginning with Switzerland, who ostensibly profited from the persecution of Jews. With Switzerland in particular, Eizenstat negotiated a $1.5 billion payout to Jewish organizations that represented victims. Similar efforts against countries like Poland and Belarus appear to be ongoing.
I will not get into Finkelstein’s criticism; you can check The Holocaust Industry online. I can’t even say that I am against the shakedown where it is proven to be warranted, although there is a question of reverse injustice. This mini highlight reel of Eizenstat’s career should just serve as the backdrop for his motivation for the Haaretz statement. It is neither unexpected nor unusual for Eizenstat to engage in such rhetoric and it is almost certain that Eizenstat did point the finger at Croatia and Serbia as potential targets for a restitution shakedown and that Haaretz dutifully relayed it. Even outside the official capacity, Eizenstat is continuing his mission; if there are more countries to shake down, the agenda is set and he is on top of it. Eizenstat is lining up targets, that’s all. But to line Serbia up next to Croatia is not only outrageous, but very devious on his part.
Forget about the fact that Serbia - the political entity - did not exist during the Holocaust even as a German puppet, but as a divided, occupied and ever-restless region whose guerrilla brigades tied up in fighting a disproportionate number of Nazi troops that would otherwise be adding to the German power at Stalingrad. Forget about the fact that the largest part of what is Serbia today was under direct occupation of Wehrmacht. Forget about the fact that Srem was annexed to the Independent State of Croatia; that Bačka was annexed to Nazi ally Hungary; that Banat was under a direct control of the Volksdeutsche, its German minority; that Kosovo and Metohia were under the fascist Albania and that southern parts, today’s Macedonia, were annexed to Nazi ally Bulgaria. Forget about the facts that Serbia accepted Jewish refugees prior to the Nazi occupation, at the time when FDR was turning away from the U.S. coast the ships with fleeing Jews and when American companies were enjoying great business relationships with Adolf Hitler’s government. Historical findings and analyses cemented the notion that Serbs were the primary victims of genocide on the territory of Kingdom of Yugoslavia and that Serbia, which did not exist as a separate political entity since 1918, could not be held responsible for crimes against Jews committed by German, Croat, Hungarian, Bulgarian and Albanian fascists on its territory at the time these same occupiers committed the same horrible crimes against the Serbs. How could the occupied Serbia be responsible for crimes against Jews when it didn’t even possess so much power to prevent the German policy of executing 100 Serbian civilians for every German soldier killed by the Serbian anti-fascist guerrilla on its territory? Germany had allies and puppets; Serbia was neither. Serbia was a German, Croat, Hungarian, Bulgarian and Albanian-occupied, torn up land with citizens bleeding and dying without discrimination. The Semlin death camp, the largest death camp in the territory that is Serbia today was a Croat-run camp, in the Croat-occupied Srem, to which Serbs, Jews and Roma alike were brought to die.
It is especially egregious that Eizenstat puts Serbia into the same basket with Croatia. If there is a moral or legal ground to go after the Republic of Croatia for crimes committed by Croat fascists in the World War II, it is at least helped by a proven fact that the genocide committed against Jews, and especially Serbs, on the territory of the Independent State of Croatia was indeed committed by Croats, not by Germans or Italians. The Croatian defense against the shakedown attempts is entirely up to the Croats. Two things are certain: Croatia committed the genocide against Serbs, Jews and Roma and it was a country ruled by Croats. There is a catch in Eizenstat’s proposal, though. Leveraging, the key word he used, will not be possible with Croatia, because Croatia’s membership in the EU has been approved. The levers can only be pulled in the case of Serbia, who is only a candidate and whose membership is very uncertain and far down the road, at best. I am sure Eizenstat would like to shake any country down indiscriminately, but in this instance, the general idea of his proposal allows only for Serbia to be blackmailed in such a way. Of my particular concern is not whether Serbia’s road to the EU membership would be impeded by a sudden condition from EU related to the restitution. As a eurorealist, I advise against Serbia even encroaching on the suicidal path towards the EU membership. I am alarmed by the grave danger of Serbian history being revised to accommodate Eizenstat’s vision, equating victims of the genocide with the murderers.
Eizenstat’s “advice” to the European Union is a matter of policy that he and his cause can utilize, it is not about history. However, without revising history, the policy he proposed can neither be implemented nor can the Jewish organizations utilize it for their ends. Unfortunately, policymakers that ostensibly aim to rectify past injustices rarely consult historians in good faith, other than those who are willing to manufacture “findings” in service of the set agenda. To hold Serbia responsible for Holocaust, the policymakers Eizenstat tries to influence have to undertake a serious revision of history of the World War II. Revising history in any way that paves the road for holding Serbia responsible for Holocaust would mean equating victims and the perpetrators. Such a revision would not only leave Serbia open for a shakedown; it would unjustly negate the historical role Serbia and the Serbs played in the anti-fascist struggle, including the salvation of fleeing Jews at the time it was still possible to do. It would negate the fact that the first uprising against Hitler's rule in the occupied Europe was started in Serbia and by the Serbian Royalists of general Draža Mihailović. It would open a Pandora’s box of radical misinterpretations that would further strain Serbian wits and deeper distort the consciousness about the just struggle Serbs embarked on in service of anti-fascism and freedom.
George Orwell famously wrote in 1984: “Who controls the past, controls the future: who controls the present, controls the past.” A conscious and forward-looking Serb cannot afford any further revision of the Serbian history by self-serving agents of foreign interests consistently seeking leverage to undermine Serbian defenses or simply to increase their own gains, even if those gains are tied to a righteous cause on some level, as is Eizenstat’s motivation. Eizenstat is justified to seek revenge against the injustice committed against his Jewish brethren and he has no obligation to feel sympathy towards the Swiss or the Croats, if he feels their governments had a hand in it. But by going after the nations that suffered under the same fate as his Jews, Eizenstat’s cause loses the high moral ground it operates on. Finkelstein would negate the existence of the high moral ground in the first place, but I will not. To each his own.
Holding Serbs responsible for Holocaust opens a door into future in which anyone, without exceptions, can be held responsible for the World War II genocides committed against Jews, Serbs, Russians, Poles, Roma and every other European and non-European people. Once you equate victims and perpetrators, anyone can fall into either group and no one can monopolize either group.


Anonymous said...

Is ridiculous put Serbia and Croatia at the same level of mass murder of civilians. Croats were and even now are the worse murderers and fascists of europe, even german nazis get impressed of croatian depravacy and lack of humanity. Croatia should never been in the UE unless his owner the German 4 reich apointed it.
Serbia alwsys has fight for the independence and the liberty of small nations, against corrupt and genocide empires Otoman, Austrian 4 Reich. Croatians always betrayed and murdered serbs . In last Euro football cup in poland and ucraine europe has seen the really "croats" fascist and violent people dressed in nazi regalia they are the product of 20 years of fascism, genocide against krajina serbs and ustace vindication. As european union citizen i dont want croats in it

The Hero of Crappy Town said...

Americans preaching to and demanding things of Balkanites and what else is new in the world? File it under: "Admit to your greater deviousness compared to us!"

Well fuck you Mr. Leading Diplomat, I'll be damned if I'll ever have an American of all people and an official at that posture as a moral authority over me.

Anonymous said...

In commentary in polish newspaper Przegląd I find information, that Dacic is new serbian premier so what is your opinion about eventual policy in question of Kosovo

Srbo said...

Considering the fact that Dacic "negotiated" the coalition with the Democratic Party for 50 days before switching to the other side, I'd hold on with even calling him the prime minister, although President Nikolic did give him the mandate. It looks like he'll be the prime minister, but in Serbia, every twist is still possible.
Dacic's position on Kosovo will depend on how much backing he gets from Russia. I expect a stronger rhetoric, more accent on the diplomatic defense of the North, both from him and from Nikolic. The EU will keep insisting on independence and the longer Serbia insists on the EU path, the more difficult the defense of the North will get. It's too early to predict policy, since the coalition-building is an ongoing process and no one will jeopardize that process by making rash statements. Once they establish positions within Serbia, they'll probably allow the EU to push them further into the Russian fold, which will determine their position towards Kosovo. I believe that both Nikolic and Dacic are ready to start sneaking the division talks in. The key question is not what will happen with Kosovo, but how will any decision affect Serbia's relationship with the EU, i.e. how far will Serbia allow itself to be pushed before quitting the EU integration process.
I do not think there is anybody but the Albanians with a clear intent about Kosovo, although what they want is becoming less and less relevant. They are just toy soldiers.
Even with the division prospect, Serbia still has to physically control the area it wishes to keep. The process of integration of the North into the Albanian rogue state has to be stopped and reversed and Serbia has to hurry.
Certain aspects of the Kosovo separation process have changed by further inroads into the regional politics made by Russia. Kosovo is another potential powder keg ready to be exploited in the larger global conflict involving the West, Russia and the Islamic world. The powers will decide its faith and Dacic will follow that lead. The Kosovo issue is larger than Serbs and Albanians.
Finally, I believe that it is Russia and Turkey who will ultimately resolve the Kosovo issue among themselves and the fight is being fought over isolating other factors. For Turkey, it is important to isolate the US, but not to the point where its own position can be hurt by a stronger position of Russia. It's a delicate game and a lot will depend on the Turkish decision to involve itself in Syria and other places NATO could push it into.
I went over several points and I hope I was able to convey to you how I see the situation.
Thanks for reading in Poland :)

Srbo said...

Their morality is a padded glove on their fist. As I said, this guy is lining up targets for a shakedown. He's an activist and a lobbyist, not a moralist.
I think you'd agree that the first step in sacking the Western strongholds in the East-West dichotomy paradigm is revealing them for who they are and calling them their real names, using the true language, outside of their subtle impositions. I think you've said something along those lines.