NEW YORK - Most people don’t know, or have forgotten the horrors of the 1992-1995 Bosnian War.
Not a leading New York Rabbi, Arthur Schneier. Last week, he was the sole invited speaker as 520 newly discovered or identified bodies of Muslim victims were buried at Sarajevo’s cemetery.
Rabbi Schneier rightly termed the massacres of Muslims in Bosnia by Serb soldiers and paramilitary thugs as “genocide.” Jews know the smell of genocide.
During the mid 1990’s, the world turned its back on the massacres of Muslims in Bosnia. The UN would not call it genocide because that would have demanded military intervention. Most shamefully, the Muslim world also closed its eyes as up to 160,000 Bosnian Muslims were slaughtered, starved and tortured in Serb-run concentration camps. At least 10,000 Muslim girls and women were gang raped, some in special rape camps.
Instead, the west readily accepted the lie made by Serbs and their rightwing western supporters that the slaughter in Bosnia was the result of “ancient Balkan feuds.” It was not. All wars create crimes. But the Bosnian crimes were mainly the result of a rebirth of Nazi ideology and racial hatreds in ex-Yugoslavia, whipped up from 1987 by the Serb demagogue, Slobodan Milosevic.
In 1988, I wrote warning that Milosevic would create disaster in Bosnia and Kosova, the Albanian-majority region of southern Serbia. I was denounced in Belgrade and declared an enemy of the Serbs. In truth, I had always been an admirer of Serbs as courageous, intelligent people. But the Serbs that Milosevic rallied were the scum of the gutter, criminals, racists, brutal pig farmers, fanatical priests.
As I look back on Bosnia, I remain revolted by the inaction of the Muslim world and the hypocrisy of the British and French governments. Two Turkish Army divisions could have ended genocide in Bosnia. But its anti-Muslim generals did nothing. Other Muslim nations offered soothing words and some cash. At least Iran tried to get arms to the Muslim-Croat forces.
While addressing a world Muslim conference I said, “if the victims in Bosnia had been Jews, the Israeli armed forced would have been there promptly and brought the Serb war criminals Milosevic. Karadzic, and Mladic back in a cage.
France had been an ally of Serbia for a century. It quietly sabotaged efforts to rescue Bosnia’s Muslims, fearing a tiny Muslim state might somehow inflame its own large Muslim population. Paris quietly armed Serbia. Britain’s Conservatives were even more anti-Muslim than the French.
I interviewed Lord Owen, the chief British so-called “peacemaker.” He played a key role in thwarting action against Serbia. As I listened to his elegant lies and evasions, my blood boiled.
Seventeen years ago this month, Serb forces, led by Gen. Mladic, stormed the supposed UN security enclave at Srebrenica. Cowardly Dutch UN troops tasked with defending its Muslim refugees refused to fight. A senior French general vetoed air strikes against Serb forces, claiming the request was made - on the wrong form!
A senior Canadian general was secretly paid by Serb groups in the US to misinform Congress and the media that much of the killing was due to Muslims. He was finally exposed as a fraud by American journalist, Roy Gutman.
Up to 20,000 Muslims are still missing. Serb forces destroyed many bodies, or bulldozed, dug up, and re-buried bodies. Many were thrown down mineshafts or dissolved in acid. The criminals were covering their tracks. That is why 520 newly found bodies were only buried by their families this week.
Unfortunately, the world, particularly Muslim world, has forgotten how America finally saved Bosnia’s Muslims – and later those of Kosova – from total genocide. US Jewish groups raised hell in Washington, pressuring President Bill Clinton to act. When Americans finally saw the horrors of Bosnia on TV, they demanded action.
In one of its finest moments, America used its power to rescue a tortured people and halt genocide in a region where the US had no strategic interests. Sadly, the ensuing invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq quickly obscured America’s admirable role in the Balkans.
Today, little Bosnia remains in permanent mourning, a broken nation, haunted and traumatized by the horrors of the war.