Who can understand Balkan history–that cursed region whose fiery nationalisms led to World War One? Not I. East Europeans remember how especially brutal Muslim Nazi- and Arab-empowered soldiers were during World War Two. Yes, there once were some pockets of European-style assimilation and sophistication among Caucasus-based Muslims, Jews, and Christians in the region. Has anyone read the incomparably charming and popular novel, Ali and Nino: A Love Story written by the very Jewish Lev Nuissimbaum whose pen name was Khurbain Said? The romance captured everyone’s longing for operatic harmony between Christians and Muslims. (For the Jews, it was always more complicated). Tom Reiss has written a must-read biography of Nuissembaum titled The Orientalist: Solving The Mystery of A Strange and Dangerous Life.
But fiction and exceptions aside, ethnic and religious feuds have simmered and boiled over between the Christians of different nationalities in the Caucasus and between Christians and Muslims in the former Yugoslavia.
I have now received and posted the most challenging comments in response to my piece about the capture of Radovan Karadzic.
What I do know about the recent warfare in the former Yugoslavia is that many girls and women were brutally and repeatedly gang-raped. I know this because I spoke with their lawyers and with feminist counselors and I read everything about their plight that I could find. Had there been funding enough to protect the raped women witnesses, I might have testified to the Court in The Hague about Rape Trauma Syndrome.
Other than this, and like everyone else, I believed that, although atrocities were committed by all sides, that the Bosnian Serbs were the ones who mainly committed genocide, “ethnic cleansing” and the gang-rapes. Now, Mr. John Peter Maher writes here that the massacre in Srbrenica was a Big Lie propagated by masterful Muslim deceivers. Several other commentators, including Felix Quigley here compare this lie to the lie about a massacre in Jenin which never really took place. They claim that in fact, most of the allegedly dead Muslim boys and men made their way to Tuzla where they joined or were protected by Muslim jihadists.
I have begun to ask my sources whether any of this is true or whether none of this is true. So far, I have been told that “some” of this might be true; that “none” or “little” of it can be true; that this might be the beginning of a masterful disinformation campaign to support Karadzic’s testimony at trial; and that the disinformation campaign was begun long ago by Islamists who are covetously eying Europe.
Friends: This is not my area. Do I have any Balkan experts out there? If so, please weigh in.