Croatia Is Trying to Erase Its Participation in the Holocaust

Oct. 11 2017

After the Axis powers overran Yugoslavia in 1941, they divided parts of it among themselves while granting independence to an expanded Croatia. Governed by its own homegrown fascist party, the Ustasha, Croatia began slaughtering Jews and Serbs. The country’s current government is now trying to rehabilitate the Ustasha’s reputation, and the organized Jewish community has responded by boycotting state-sponsored Holocaust commemoration events. Menachem Rosensaft writes:

The present stand-off between the Croatian Jewish community and the Croatian government (which celebrated Croatian independence on Sunday) over the manner in which the Holocaust is commemorated—or not commemorated—and the effective rehabilitation and glorification of the Ustasha came to a head after a March 2016 Israel-Croatia soccer match, where Croatian spectators shouted the notorious Ustasha slogan Za dom spremni, or “Ready for the homeland,” in the presence of the Croatian prime minister, who apparently sat by without reacting. . . .

It is true that Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic had . . . condemned the Ustasha’s role during the Holocaust during a 2015 visit to Israel. . . . On a subsequent trip to Canada, however, Grabar-Kitarovic sent a far different message when she posed with a group of Croatian émigrés holding a flag bearing the Ustasha symbol. . . .

Even President Grabar-Kitarovic’s description of the Ustasha as a “collaborationist” regime [in her Yad Vashem statement] falls far short of the mark. . . . While the Holocaust in most parts of Nazi-occupied or Nazi-dominated Europe was carried out predominantly by Nazi Germany, albeit with the assistance and often eager participation of nationals of the respective countries, Croatia is in a separate category, together with Ion Antonescu’s fascist regime in Romania. The genocide in the Independent State of Croatia, headed by the Ustasha leader and ideologue Ante Pavelić, was carried out not by Germans but by Croatians without direction or even participation by the SS or other German genocidaires.

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More about: Anti-Semitism, History & Ideas, Holocaust, World War II, Yugoslavia

 

When It Comes to Syria, Vladimir Putin’s Word Can’t Be Trusted

July 13 2018

In the upcoming summit between the Russian and American presidents in Helsinki, the future of Syria is likely to rank high on the agenda. Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, has already made clear that Moscow won’t demand a complete Iranian withdrawal from the country. Donald Trump, by contrast, has expressed his desire for a complete U.S. withdrawal. Examining Moscow’s track record when it comes to maintaining its past commitments regarding Syria, Eli Lake urges caution:

Secretary of State John Kerry spent his last year in office following Lavrov all over the world in an attempt to create a U.S.-Russian framework for resolving the Syrian civil war. He failed. . . . President Trump [now] wants to get to know Putin better—and gauge his willingness to help isolate Iran. This is a pointless and dangerous gambit. First, by announcing his intention to pull U.S. forces out of the country “very soon,” Trump has already given away much of his leverage within Syria.

Ideally, Trump would want to establish a phased plan with Putin, where the U.S. would make some withdrawals following Iranian withdrawals from Syria. But Trump has already made it clear that prior [stated] U.S. objectives for Syria, such as the removal of the dictator Bashar al-Assad, are no longer U.S. objectives. The U.S. has also declined to make commitments to give money for Syrian reconstruction.

Without any leverage, Trump will have to rely even more on Putin’s word, which is worthless. Putin to this day denies any Russian government role in interfering in the 2016 U.S. election. Just last month, Putin went on Austrian television and lied about his government’s role in shooting down a Malaysian airliner over Ukraine. Why would anyone trust Putin to keep his word to help remove Iran and its proxies from Syria?

And this gets to the most dangerous possible outcome of the upcoming summit. The one thing that Kerry never did was to attempt to trade concessions on Syria for concessions on Crimea, the Ukrainian territory that Russia invaded and annexed in 2014. There was a good reason for this: even if one argues that the future of Ukraine is not a high priority for the U.S., it’s a disastrous precedent to allow one nation to change the boundaries of another through force, and particularly of one that signed an agreement with the U.S., UK, and Russia to preserve its territorial integrity in exchange for relinquishing its cold-war-era nuclear weapons.

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More about: Crimea, Donald Trump, Politics & Current Affairs, Russia, Syrian civil war, U.S. Foreign policy, Vladimir Putin