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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 10/22/18

Greece and the Srebrenica Massacre

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Message Stephen Schwartz

Ferida Osmanović, who fled from Srebrenica, hanged herself near the UN base at Tuzla, 1995.
Ferida Osmanović, who fled from Srebrenica, hanged herself near the UN base at Tuzla, 1995.
(Image by (Photograph by Darko Bandić © Darko Bandić, used by permission))
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Joseph Stalin is said to have remarked, "The death of one man is a tragedy, the death of millions is a statistic."

I am reminded of this when pondering the death of Jamal Khashoggi, martyr for liberty. The Saudi authorities have now admitted that Khashoggi died in their consulate in Istanbul, on October 2, 2018.

I am 70. In my childhood I saw a world that had undergone unspeakable atrocities in years close to my own: the Holocaust of the Jews, the Russian purges, the bombing of Guernica, the rape of Nanjing.

We believed we lived in a newer and better world.

We were, of course, wrong. As a teenager I learned of the cruelties imposed on blacks in the American South and their allies, white liberals, lynched and mutilated.

The Charlottesville assault last year by the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis, in which a young antifascist Partisan, Heather Heyer, was killed, indicated the nature of fascism as a revived threat in America.

Jamal Khashoggi was killed by Saudi Islamofascism; one struggle, many fronts, many victims, until fascism is rendered dead permanently. (It's possible.)

In my life, one atrocity stands out: the massacre in July 1995 of 8,000 Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica, a lovely little town, between mountains and rivers, in the small country of Bosnia-Hercegovina.

The dead of Srebrenica were killed by Serbian fascism; one plague, many viruses, many victims. Serbofascism is as present and dangerous to the world as that of Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, or Muhammad bin Salman, aka MbS or "Mister Bone Saw."

My memories of Srebrenica are many. I was in the Balkan region when it occurred. I had flown to Bucharest in Romania, and as the jetliner headed across the former Yugoslavia from Vienna, I noticed aircraft trails in the sky over eastern Bosnia. I wondered what was taking place. I had a twinge of satisfaction that I was probably safe in an international flight. That was 12 years after the Russian shootdown of Korean Air Lines 007 in 1983. The Russian shootdown of Malaysian Airlines 17 in 2014 was 19 years in the future.

Russian fascism, Islamofascism, Serbian fascism... funny how that works. One octopus, many tentacles, many victims.

Many details of Srebrenica moved me. I felt guilt about speaking in Bucharest regarding the poetry of Paul Celan (who had lived there) when innocents were being slaughtered. I learned eventually that the victims were chosen for death first according to who carried tespih, or Muslim prayer beads. For 20 years after that I carried tespih everywhere I went, including on clandestine trips into Serbia.

A gruesome nature unites every variety of fascism. The Stalinist counter-revolution promoted brutality, but was not, in my view, a product of brutalization as a doctrine, a method, a policy. Communism set out to elevate humanity; by contrast fascism seeks to destroy all elements of mercy, compassion, and kindness in the degraded beings it mobilizes. We see this in Trump's public support for attacks on journalists.

Communism was tragic. Fascism is criminal.

Who was to blame at Srebrenica? The U.S. and other global powers that found it too demanding to restrain Serbia, first; but, behind the bloody events, Russia -- the Russia that facilitated the Holocaust of the Jews, that slew its best leaders, that betrayed the Spanish Republic, that refused to fight imperialist Japan throughout the agony of China. Vlad the Impaler Putin now stands in solidarity with Mr. Bone Saw, crown prince of the Saudi kingdom.

Russia summoned other forces in the attack on Bosnia-Hercegovina. Like the Spanish Republic, which was divided and weak, and dedicated to a peaceful world, Bosnia was divided and appeared weak, and remains dedicated to a harmonious world in which Muslims, Christians and Jews cooperate.

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Stephen "Lu" Schwartz (Ashk Sylejman) is Executive Director of the Center for Islamic Pluralism, an international media network, and Founder of the Second Bektashi Sufi Mission to America. He has published more than 33 books and has pursued a (more...)

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