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.

Read more at Tablet

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

Syria’s Druze Uprising, and What It Means for the Region

When the Arab Spring came to Syria in 2011, the Druze for the most part remained loyal to the regime—which has generally depended on the support of religious minorities such as the Druze and thus afforded them a modicum of protection. But in the past several weeks that has changed, with sustained anti-government protests in the Druze-dominated southwestern province of Suwayda. Ehud Yaari evaluates the implications of this shift:

The disillusionment of the Druze with Bashar al-Assad, their suspicion of militias backed by Iran and Hizballah on the outskirts of their region, and growing economic hardships are fanning the flames of revolt. In Syrian Druze circles, there is now open discussion of “self-rule,” for example replacing government offices and services with local Druze alternative bodies.

Is there a politically acceptable way to assist the Druze and prevent the regime from the violent reoccupation of Jebel al-Druze, [as they call the area in which they live]? The answer is yes. It would require Jordan to open a short humanitarian corridor through the village of al-Anat, the southernmost point of the Druze community, less than three kilometers from the Syrian-Jordanian border.

Setting up a corridor to the Druze would require a broad consensus among Western and Gulf Arab states, which have currently suspended the process of normalization with Assad. . . . The cost of such an operation would not be high compared to the humanitarian corridors currently operating in northern Syria. It could be developed in stages, and perhaps ultimately include, if necessary, providing the Druze with weapons to defend their territory. A quick reminder: during the Islamic State attack on Suwayda province in 2018, the Druze demonstrated an ability to assemble close to 50,000 militia men almost overnight.

Read more at Jerusalem Strategic Tribune

More about: Druze, Iran, Israeli Security, Syrian civil war, U.S. Foreign policy