The post-WW2 period
In the post-WW2 period new wave of assimilation of Jews began. 13 The number of Jews declaring themselves as members of that nation and participating in the work of Jewish communities dwindled.
Creation of the state of Israel created a new dilemma of the stay- or- emigrate kind for many Jews. Under a decree of the Yugoslav authorities Jews who opted for emigration were allowed to take with them only movable possessions, while they had to renounce their real estate to the benefit of the state. Property of big Jewish landowners and capitalists (owners of plants) was nationalised or impounded through agrarian reform. In 1948-1951 period about 9,000, almost half of survivors, emigrated.
In the pre-WW2 period Jews fostered their identity and traditions within the family fold. Membership of the Jewish community played a central role in their life too. Large communities had a sinagogue, and rabbi, other priests and a teacher were involved in religious education classes imparted in sinagogues and Jewish communities. In the post -WW2 period that role was taken on by municipalities, which also organised cultural activities. Jewish communities also kept in touch with Israel and international Jewish organisations.
Anti-Semitic incidents have gradually increased since 1967, after severance of diplomatic ties between the SFRY and Israel. But then they were only a marginal phenomenon 14, for the state decried them. "Anti-Israeli publications bore all the hallmarks of the Communist, political authoritarianism, but in a stark contrast to similar incidents Europe-wide, anti-Semitism was consciously avoided. Very small number of anti-Semitic texts and critical reactions to them, attests to the aforementioned. 15
In the Seventies anti-Semitic texts came out occasionally. Their linchpin was the book Protocols of Zion Elders. In 1971 a Titograd-based literary magazine Ovjde ran a text by Aleksandar Loncar which inter alia16 alleged a high documentary value of facts presented in the Protocols of Zion Elders. In a literary magazine Delo, Dragos Kalajic made a similar claim, that is, maintained that Protocols was an authentic, documentary source for making judgement about the character of the Jewish religion. 17 Milo Glavurtic paraphrased Protocols in his private edition Satan in 1978.
Alliance of Jewish Communities filed a lawsuit against Glavurtic, but did not win the case. Ilustrovana Politika ran a feature of Mihailo Popovski Secret World of Masonry which included excerpts from Protocol. After several political interventions the magazine stopped running the feature. The book with the same title was published in 1984 by Nova Knjiga.
13 In that period the party membership and not national descent counted most. Religion was not an important factor. A larger number of war veterans were not demobilised after the war. Mixed marriages were commonplace.
14 Laslo Sekelj, Vreme bescasca, Belgrade, 1995
15 Idem, page 76
16 The same author wrote in the same text about "power of Jews" as a cause of "a sad fate of two major authors, Celine and Ezra Pound."
17 Dragos Kalajic, Delo, 1970, page 677
Despite the ban the Macedonian version came out in 1985, and in the late Eighties it again appeared in Belgrade bookstores.
Beginning of the SFRY disintegration
According to the data of the Jewish community of Belgrade, 177 Jews, mostly from Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia emigrated since the beginning of the Yugoslav crisis. "The figures speak of a small-scale emigration," said Jasa Almuli, the then President of the Belgrade Jewish Community. 18 But according to the official data, 1,800 Jews left Yugoslavia, from 1991-1998. Those data can be considered controversial, unless one takes into account the fact that many Jews declared themselves as members of other ethnic nations. Hence it is difficult to establish the exact number of emigrants.
Jewish organisations in Croatia and Slovenia followed in the footsteps of their ‘domicile’ countries. Vice President of the Jewish Community in Croatia, Srdjan Matic, thus commented their move: "We obviously regret our breakaway move, but it was imposed by clashing realities in Yugoslavia….We are disappointed by conduct of national (Jewish) Federation in Belgrade…It has not condemned the bombing of Dubrovnik during which the old sinagogue was also damaged. Furthermore it also declined to take part in the meeting of religious communities in Sarajevo several months ago, which compelled us to stay away from the meeting too"19 Matic also criticised the Jewish Federation in Belgrade for a mild response to a bomb-planting in downtown area and in the Jewish cemetery in Zagreb, on 19 August 1992.
David Albahari, writer and President of the Jewish Community in Belgrade, who tried to save the Jewish Federation, regrets the rift, but admits its inevitability: "Before the joint meeting in Sarajevo, Jewish communities in Slovenia and Croatia declared unilateral secession. We thought that it was done under the pressure of their governments." Albahari rejected allegations that the Belgrade seat of the Jewish Federation did not condemn the bombing of Dubrovnik sinagogue. "Sinanogue was not shelled. One shell fell in its proximity, and several windows were broken. Under such circumstances one could easily condemn the Serb government, as our brothers in Croatia demanded."20.
In a bid to explain different stands of Jewish communities on developments in the former Yugoslavia and underscore manipulation of Jews by political actions, David Albahari says: "Initially Jewish communities reacted as they were told, by accepting incoming information at face-value. Despite our demands that the Jewish communities should stay away from the conflict, some moves were made without considering objective picture of developments. It took us almost a year to persuade them that our best …
18 Almuli, Intervju, 7 February 1992
19 Vecernje Novosti, 19 April 1992
position as an organised grouping was to continue to sit on the fence, in political terms. 21
Jews in Serbia
3,000 strong Jewish community, composed mostly of Sephardic Jews lives in Serbia (first Sephardic Jews fled from the Spanish Inquisition and settled in the Ottoman Empire countries, including Serbia.)
The principal generator of anti-Semitism in Serbia is the new Serbian Right, made of so-called left-wing and right wing parties in the political scene of Serbia, parts of the Serbian Orthodox Church and intellectual elite, or all those who advocate the idea of the international conspiracy against Serbia and oppose the new world order. Misa Levi, President of the Jewish Community in Belgrade draws attention to escalating anti-Semitism and ties between Serbia and Russia, both on the state and church level. Added to that quite a number of public media and prominent public figures constantly espouses the thesis of existence of the unique Jewish opinion in the world, decisive influence of Jews on creation of the US policy, and anti-Serb stance of the international Jewish institutions and renowned Jewish intellectuals. Publicist and analyst of religion Mirko DJordjevic says that the current wave of anti-Semitism is not caused by Jews: "It is a very belated historical response of certain circles to all things foreign and different."
Anti-Semitism Monitoring Commission of the FJCY, in qualifying anti-Semitism, often resorts to euphemisms: "it is a contained, low-level anti-Semitism. Hence we did not suggest special measures to the Executive Board of the FJCY, barring our complaints and protests in writing to certain religious and political factors." 23 The Jewish community stressed that it was always sensitive to equalisation of religion and nation, and even more so to identification between the majority nation and the state. The FJCY communique stresses: "It is not disputable that Jews in Serbia are under the law equal to other nations. But is it so in practice? Does this state, in every public discussion observe the fact that all its nationals are equal, irrespective of nationality, religion and other features of identity?"
At the same time ambivalent position on Jews is expressed through another extreme-equalisation of tragic fates of the two peoples.
For example, writer Vuk Draskovic, in 1985 described Serbs as Jews of the late Twentieth Century: "Each inch of Kosovo is Jerusalem for Serbs: there is no difference between suffering of Serbs and Jews. Serbs are the thirteenth lost and most unfortunate tribe of Israel." In the first years of war, Jews were not seen as opponents. On the contrary the authorities tried to win them over for the "Serb cause." Frequent were comparisons between "identical, tragic fates of Jews and Serbs as heavenly and innocent peoples, victims of genocide." In that period Serbian authorities were "inclined" to Jews-…
21 Borba, 8 December 1993
22 Radio B92, 20 February 2001
23 Jewish Review, Bulletin of Federation of the Jewish Communities of Yugoslavia (FJCY), January 2000
… the media ran information about their activities, texts and features on friendly relations between Serbs and Jews, and evenings of Jewish poetry were organised.24 Federation of Jewish Municipalities was promised that it would be given back one of the most beautiful sinagogues in Serbia, the one in Nis (but that promise has never been fulfilled). At the same time the media increasingly reported on desecration of Jewish cemeteries in Serbia, notably in Zemun and Pancevo, 25 and decried those incidents.
Society of the Serb-Jewish Friendship was registered on 21 November 1988, while the founding assembly was held on 4 March 1989. According to the proclamation the society was tasked with bringing together the two peoples, "frequently accused of being different."26 Soon the Society’s branch office was set up in Kosovo, and later another thirty branch offices emerged Serbia-wide. Abortive attempts to set up such a society were registered even in the former Yugoslavia, during the one-party system. 27
Founding of the said Society, obviously tasked with abusing Jews for political purposes, was criticised and disapproved of by many Jewish intellectuals. Writer Filip David stated that at the founding meeting he notice "many wise heads, members of the Serbian Academy of Sciences, several prominent Serbian nationalists, and several elderly Jews, self-styled ‘Serbs of Moses faith.’ The idea of the founders was to help Serbia by enlisting our Jews to shore up support for the Serbian cause in the United States, through their, allegedly important connections. Early on I tried to say that the story about a conspiratorial world Jewish centre, dictating the entire world policy, was a sheer nonsense, and that the idea originated from the notorious Protocols of Zion Elders." David went on to note: "This type of association was nonsensical, for there was not need for Jews, as Serbian citizens, to set up the Society of the Serb-Jewish Friendship."28 Filip David realised that behind the project were indeed "nationalistic hot-heads" after his meeting with Ljubomir Tadic. Namely David, after the founding meeting, in his letter to Tadic, requested a meeting with him and expressed his negative opinion of the very Society.
At the first convention of the Society, in May 1990, the SJSF Secretary Klara Mandic stated that "the Society must persist in making public the names of all Serbs, victims of genocide, for their names are absent from the genocide-related books. Another …
24 Politika, 7 July 1991
25 Vecernje Novosti, 25 April 1991
26 Politika, 3 July 1990
27 Socialist Alliance of Working People of Yugoslavia was against formation of the said Society on the following grounds: "There is no need to establish any association resting on close national or nationalities ties, in the SFRY territory." Later Jews also opposed the existence of such a society, and maintained that it was legitimate to forge closer ties only between Serbia and Israel."
28 Interview with Filip David.
… important task of the society was "sending of pertinent publications to 15,000 influential people and politicians in Europe, America and Canada."29 FJCY repeatedly protested against some communiques of the Society and distanced itself from the latter’s actions.
But the leading Serbian politicians started emulating the society by propagating identical historical fate of Jews and Serbs, and preservation of friendly relations between the two peoples ( according to the Society, Serbs stood more to gain from the latter). Author Brana Crncevic said that "only friendship with Jews can save Serbhood," 30 while Enriko Josif argued that "Serbs and Jews are very old friends, and shall remain friends, for they have not betrayed the most glorious pillars of their history-Kosovo and Jerusalem." Dobrica Cosic stressed "the historical fate, which made Serbs and Jews very similar" and " Jews are European people from whom Serbs can learn most."
In 1991 Captain Dragan, later a leader of the Serb paramilitary units, wore the Star of David around his neck during a Studio B interview. At the same time members of the Serb-Jewish society, including the leading Serb nationalists, reiterated "Our fate is similar to the fate of Jews."
In 1993 the Federation of Jewish Communities set up an Anti-Semitism Monitoring Committee, and its President Aca Singer warned: "Whenever and wherever there are turmoils in the world Jews are affected by them." 31 An ever-increasing number of anti-Semitic incidents were condemned by a narrow circle of liberal public figures, and also by the regime’s satellites. The authorities tried to minimise the effects of anti-Semitic incidents by not responding to protests and complaints lodged by the Jewish Municipality of Belgrade and the Jewish Federation. But those incidents increased the fear or feeling of insecurity among the Jews and non-Serbs. On the other hand they were adroitly used by the authorities as a form of "soft ethnic-cleansing."
The world was outraged by wars in the territories of former Yugoslavia, and condemned actions of Bosnian Serbs. Those condemnations became increasingly sharp and both "domestic" and foreign Jews joined in the chorus of international protests. This placed domestic Jews in a very delicate position. Hence the following statement of Jasa Almuli: "anyone may exercise his democratic right to criticise the regime in place, but such criticism should be voiced as a purely personal opinion. Jewish community would appreciate very much if some individuals stopped using its name in political showdowns, and stopped making up stories about emigration." It was a response to objections of official Belgrade that Jews were siding with "the Serb enemies", namely criticism of international Jews who condemned aggression against Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
There are no precise data on the kind and number of anti-Semitic incidents in Serbia. In the past decade many were glossed over by the authorities, and even the Jewish …
29 Politika, 3 April 1992
30 Politika, 25 May 1990
31 Politika, 12 August 1994, page 13
… community. State bodies have by and large failed to react to protests and complaints of the Jewish Federation. Even when the latter sporadically reacted, 32, there was no follow-up, that is, criminal investigations were not launched.
The Jewish Federation filed a lawsuit against statements made by President of the Serbian Royalist Movement, Sinisa Vucic, in a radio B92 program Intervju dana. It considered that his words ("we shall seize property of rich Jews and Communists to help alleviate the suffering of our people,") were tantamount to "instigation of religious and national hatred." Although hard evidence was submitted, namely the tape of interview, the Republican Public Prosecutor’s office transferred the case to the District Public Prosecutor’s Office (after repeated interventions of the Jewish Community), which, however failed to act on the case. That interview marked the start of a series of similar statements of Vucinic made to the most influential print media 33, ran under the following headlines: Serbian Hawks Become Terrorists, We Threaten UNPROFOR, We Shall Seize Property of Rich Jews and Communists to Help our Long-Suffering People. Jewish Community again reacted to Vucinic’s hate speech on 27 May 1993 by inquiring about the course of investigation. After a new anti-Semitic statement of Vucinic on 13 June 1993, 34 the Federation on 24 August 1993 again inquired about the course of investigation by the District Public Prosecutor’s Office. The Federation filed new charges after an anti-Semitic interview with Sinisa Vucinic was ran by magazine Svet.
In June 1994, the Prijepolje Bulletin of the Serbian Popular Renewal (a party closely affiliated with the Belgrade regime) ran a text headlined The Jewish Ball of Vampires (by-line was -Luka Sarkotic). In the text Jews were accused of crimes against the Holy Church of Christ, that is, the SOC and practising Christians, murder of God, the French Bourgeoisie Revolution, uprisings in Russia, the 1917 October Revolution, assassination of the two Russian Tzars, poisoning of Stalin, creation and implementation of the "Perestroika" project, destruction of the Soviet and Russian "empires", the Chernobil nuclear plant catastrophe, future war between Kiev and Moscow (over Krimea), collusion and alliances with Muslims and Protestants, arming of "Green Berets" in B&H, causing the plague epidemics in the world, poisoning of wells, ritual slaughter of children, creation of Jasenovac concentration camp through the Croatian state leadership, and production of AIDS virus. The Jewish Federation immediately informed of the said publication Montenegrin President Momir Bulatovic, the SOC Patriarch Pavle, the Montenegrin Mitropolite Amfilohije, Backa Episcope Irinej Bulovic, Federal Human Rights Minister, Margit Savovic and Federal Information Minister Slobodan Ignjatovic. Their response would later serve as a model for all future reactions to anti-Semitic incidents: protests were acknowledged, incidents were verbally condemned, but not a single concrete action against perpetrators was taken. The Serbian Popular Renewal then …
32 In an indirect way, through statements of some influential, public figures
33 Borba, 13 May 1993
34 Svet, 13 June 1993
… issued a communique: "there is too much unnecessary buzz about the text. We are very surprised by reaction of the Federation of the Jewish Communities in Yugoslavia to a desperate cry of a Serbian patriot, abandoned by the whole world. We wonder how would the Jewish people react if all 48 Jewish Senators in the US Senate voted against the Serb people." But after condemnatory reactions of the liberal public strata in Serbia and Montenegro, Slavko Fustic, editor of the Bulletin, wrote an apologetic letter because of "publishing a scandalous text, with a very low- quality contents." He moreover stated: "I would like to give to you and the entire Jewish people my assurances that we don’t hate the Jewish people…"Independent media, who have followed the whole case, also reacted: journalist of weekly Vreme wondered about the prosecutor’s real intentions, as the latter first had told the weekly’s journalist that he was still undecided about his next investigating action, and then -went on holiday. Klara Mandic, secretary of the Society of Jewish-Serb Friendship, also protested against the text run by Bulletin in Politika. Vreme commented her protest in the following way: "the problem with the Jew-bashing pamphlet is that it was designed in the circles in which Mandic has an influential role."
New edition of Ljotic’s paper Nova Iskra (October 1994), titled U ime istine carried a text penned by S. Hadzic Hilendarski in which prominent domestic and foreign public figures of Jewish descent were criticised for their stands on the Bosnian war, namely: Elie Wiesel, Madeleine Albright, Daniel Schieffer, Klara Mandic, Israel Kellman, Enriko Josif, David Albahari, George Soros, Simon Viesenthal, Cheslav Milos, Warren Zimmerman, Zbiegnev Brezhinski, Bernard Henri- Levy, Allen Finkelcraut, Henri Glucksman, Loraine Fabius, Slobodanka Gruden, Jasa Almuli, Predrag Finci, Ladoslav Kadelburg. David Kalef, etc.
In July 1994 Glas Srpski 35 carried an interview with Dr. Radmilo Marojevic, professor of Philological Faculty in Belgrade. In the interview headlined, Cultural Treason is National Treason, Marojevic pointed out that: "in the Serbian culture and science very active is the fifth column of the Judeo-Masonic Project." In another interview carried by the Belgrade magazine Duga under the headline Dream about New Hazar Land, Marojevic repeated his thesis about the Judeo-Masonic conspiracy in -Russia.
Serb Orthodox Church
A publicist and analyst of religion Mirko DJordjevic in a host of studies indicates that anti-Semitism is not related to Orthodox religion, but rather to ethnicfiletism very influential among the SOC. Some SOC circles, notably those under the influence of Priest Nikolaj Velimirovic, joined in the anti-Semitic campaign. Velimirovic suddenly became a martyr. Mitropolite Montenegrin banned any kind of criticism or re-appraisal of work and ideas of Priest Nikolaj, although he has never been canonised.
"That legendary martyrdom is used for glossing over unpleasant pages of a repressed history-during the Nazi occupation some members of the SOC episcopate joined Nedic, and took strident anti-Semitic positions," writes DJordjevic. He adds: " Priest …
35 Glas srpski from Republika Srpska is distributed in Serbia too.
… Nikolaj was close to Nedic and Ljotic, he did not oppose totalitarian political systems, but in fact favoured them. Therefore it is not clear how his body of work can be a treasure trove of spiritual inspiration and a veritable golden mine of spirituality and Orthodox faith, as Radovan Bigovic qualified it in his doctoral thesis (his mentor was Amfilohije Radovic.)"
Book of Priest Artemije New Golden-Mouth, published in Belgrade in 1986, is one of many books which glorified Priest Nikolaj: "he is the only Serb who can be considered an intellectual and spiritual peer of St. John the Golden-Mouth, hence his nickname-the Serbian Golden-Mouth. Mirko DJordjevic writes that "the Serbian contemporary historians failed to notice a conspicuous similarity between St. John the Golden Mouth and the Zica orator, Priest Nikolaj: namely St. John’s body of work also contains 8 holimies "against Judea."
Logos 36, a magazine of students of Theological Faculty in Belgrade in 1994 ran a text Jewish Games behind the International Stage, penned by Predrag Milosevic and Boban Milenkovic. That text abounds in accusations against Jews, for example, " there is a planetary Jewish conspiracy against the Christian Orthodox faith, and notably against the Serb people and Russia," corroborated by citations from old documents of Priest Nikolaj Velimirovic related to his defence of Protocols of Zion Elders." "All modern phenomena in Europe were masterminded by Jews, who crucified Jesus, that is,: democracy, strikes, socialism, atheism, tolerance of all denominations, universal revolution, capitalism and communism. They were all inventions of Jews, that is, of their father, the Devil." 37
In July 1994 magazine Kruna carried two texts headlined How to Read Protocols of Zion Elders, and Book of Notions. The first text praised the said book, while the second, vilified Jews, as people, through criticism of Mosa Pijade, the pre-war communist, Partisan, and member of the post-war establishment.
Publishing activity played a major role in anti-Semitic campaign. Publishing companies, Velvet and Ihtus-Hriscanske knjige published several reprints of books of Dimitrije Ljotic, Milan Nedic, Priest Nikolaj Velimirovic, and some other books dealing with alleged Masonic-Jewish conspiracies. According to sociologist Laslo Sekelj, in 1990-95 12 different editions of Protocols of Zion Elders were published, and in 1995-2001 another-eight. 38 Vladimir Maksimovic, one of publishers of Protocols of Zion Elders, part of distribution of which was impounded in 1994, in defending himself from accusations of anti-Semitism, says that "the only problem with this book is the fact that the publishing activity was taken over by the Soros Foundation, whose founder is a Jew. The Federation of Jewish Communities of Yugoslavia on 22 March 1994 condemned publication of Protocols of Zion Elders, and filed charges against Publishing House
36 Logos, 1-4/1994
37 Priest Nikolaj Velimirovic in his documents written in defence of Protocols of Zion Elders.
38 NIN 2640, 2 August 2001, Zabrana i krivica, page 32
Velvet and responsible editor Vladimir Maksimovic. Three days later the FJCY got a letter from owner and director of the publishing house Sfairos in which he decried the appeal to ban publishing and distributing the book, and termed it "an undemocratic demand." He suggested to the Federation joint publishing of the book with "an expert commentary," and future collaboration involving publishing of works dedicated to study of literary, historical and linguistic heritage of the Jewish people and its identity." In response to accusations by the Jewish Federation, newspaper issued by the Serbian Radical Party, Velika Srbija, in May 1994, ran a text, "Who burns down books, shall burn down people too," along with a commentary " let readers, Serbs, assess what is true and what is false in Protocols of Zion Elders."
(Deputy District Prosecutor Milija Milovanovic in July 2001 dropped charges against publishers of Protocol due to "the lack of evidence for further legal proceedings.")
In December 1994 Club of National Books Velvet in its catalogue listed its new anti-Semitic books: Protocols of Politart Seers or Counter-initiation (Isidora Bjelica and Nebojsa Pajkic write about ‘plagues’ of modern society, including Judaism and advise how to fight against them); Drama of Contemporary Mankind, Dimitrije Ljotic, -On the Semitic danger and breaking of the Serbian backbone in WW2; Jews in Serbia, Dr. Lazar Prokic; Why have Jews always been against Serbs? Who are they-an anti-Semitic guide, Dr. Lazar Prokic; Jewish Conspiracy, Marcus Elie Ravadge; Serb People in Claws of Jews, Milorad Mojic; The Jewish Issue, F.M. Dostoevsky; Under the Star of David-Judaism and Free Masonry in the Past and Present, Georgije Pavolovic; Religious and legal study of Talmud or an essay on Jewish honesty, Vasa Pelagic. The aforementioned catalogue listed also other titles: Jews in mirror of the Bible by theologian Zivojin Savic; Evil and Damned: Torturers of Contemporary Mankind, translation of Charles Weismann book.
Valjevo-based Glas crkve in 1996 published a book Selected Works of Priest Nikolaj in Ten Volumes. Book VII- Through a Prison Window includes a series of negative commentaries on life, customs and role of Jews.
On 16 December in one of premises of the Philosophical Faculty in Belgrade an anti-Semitic pamphlet titled A complete report-Jews and Jewry was found. An unidentified person distributed it to students. Teaching council of the faculty in its communique, issued in the paper Protest-Three Uprisings in 1996, qualified the pamphlet as anti-Semitic, and condemned its author and the like-minded intellectuals.
Publisher Ratibor DJurdjevic spearheaded the anti-Semitic campaign through reprints and new editions. Promotions of his books usually started with a blessing and prayer of retired priest and notorious anti-Semite Zarko Gavrilovic. Whenever he uttered the word "Jews," the audience booed. In the study Syndrome of Fear of Judeans in America DJurdjevic says that behind-the-scenes masters of the US policy intentionally nominate week presidential candidates to control them easily.
According to him "such candidates are aplenty, as the US public and private morals are weak and lax. A man of integrity and strong sense of morals, namely Pat Buchanan, a Christian and renowned anti-Semite, could not succeed in unprincipled US "democracy." 39 In the book Zionism, Communism and the "New" World Order, DJurdjevic stated: "it is very important that Christians understand that Communism-that major ill of Western societies-was spawned by Jewish institutions and circles…it was guided, channelled and evolved by official Israeli secret councils." 40
After DJurdjevic’s book Lies and Shortcomings of US Democracy came out (publisher was Ihtus-Hriscanks knjiga, Beograd), the Jewish Federation on 16 October sent a protest letter, describing the nature and contents of the book, to Information Minister Ratomir Vico, Human Rights Minister, Margit Savovic, Mayor of Belgrade, Nebojsa Covic, Minister Zoran Bingulac, Minister of Religions Dragan Dragojlovic, the SOC Patriarchate, Irinej Bulovic, members of the Society of Serb-Jewish Friendship, and the media. It moreover informed the Serbian Justice Minister that charges were filed against Publishing House Ihtus and its editor Zarko Gavrilovic. The media responded differently to the Jewish Federation’s protest. Daily Politika on 18 October ran a text Who Fuels Anti-Semitism penned by Rade Rankovic, and later an interview with Aca Singer President of the Federation of Jewish Communities in Serbia (Anti-Semitic Incidents Should Not Be Glossed Over) about dire effects of anti-Semitism both on those who propagate it and those who close a blind eye to it. Nasa Borba on 18 October 1995 carried a text State Bodies Keep Silent, which focused on "non-reactions of the state bodies to anti-Semitic incidents."
Contrary to Politika and Nasa Borba, Politika Ekspres on 7 October 1995 ran a text Conspiracy against Christianity in which the author Visnja Vukotic quoted excerpts from Lies and Shortcomings of US Democracy, and backed all allegations and ideas contained therein. The same paper on 8 October carried a text headlined A man who knew too much ends in a lunatic asylum, full of quotations from the aforementioned book. On 23 October 1995 Vecernje Novosti carried an article by Dejan Lucic, Who are instigators of hatred? in which Lucic tried to justify positions espoused by DJurdjevic in Lies and Shortcomings of US Democracy. Politika Ekspres on 23 October 1995 ran a reaction of President of the Society of Serb-Jewish Friendship, Ljubomir Tadic, to DJurdjevic’s book. Namely Tadic challenged and criticised some of positions disclosed in the book.
Holy Synod of SOC on 24 October 1995 informed the Jewish Federation that it "regrets publication of the anti-Semitic book" and "shall do its utmost to prevent publishing of similar books." Saint Sava Youth and Students’ Movement followed suit by condemning activities of Ratibor DJurdjevic, one of its principal ‘donors’ and Zarko Gavrilovic, assessing them as "retirees who only acted as counsellors to the Movement" and stressing that "Anti-Semitism has always been contrary to the spirit of Saint Sava Movement." Despite the SOC condemnation of DJurdjevic’s book and assurances that its circles did not disseminate anti-Semitism, in April 1997 the very book appeared in the …
39 Dr. Ratibor DJurdjevic, Five bloody revolutions of Jewish bankers and of their Judeo-Masonry, Ihtus, Belgrade
40 Idem, page 196
… SOC’s bookstore Zadruga pravoslavnog svestenstva. In its 11 April 1997 letter to the
SOC Patriarchy the Jewish Federation expressed its concern over appearance of DJurdjevic’s book in the said bookstore. In their replies the official SOC spokesman and the Patriarchy Cabinet regretted the event, and informed that the bookstore’s manage was instructed to immediately stop selling the book.
At the promotion of the book Kuril Manuscripts by author Hugo Karamata, held in the Association of Writers of Serbia on 25 January 1996, DJurdjevic stated: "Judeans are the worst world evil….they bankroll all national and international Masonic activities and pull the strings of the world conspiracy." 41
In autumn 1996 DJurdjevic’s new book, On Absurdity of Anti-Semitism (publisher was again Ihtus-Hriscanska knjiga) came out. Federation of the Jewish Communities on 30 October 1996 inquired with the District Prosecutor’s Office about actions taken regarding its complaint of 16 December 1995, and simultaneously informed it that the same author published a new book. In its reply of 22 November 1996 the Public Prosecutor’s office quoted all criminal proceedings taken against Sinisa Vucinic, Publishing House Velvet from Belgrade, editor Vladimir Maksimovic, and publishing house Ihtus and Zarko Gavrilovic.
In its letter of 28 November 2000 to the Holy Synod of the Serbian Orthodox Church, the Jewish Federation indicated growing anti-Semitism: "Among those who spread hate of Jews excels Dr. Ratibor Rajko DJurdjevic, founder of Ihtus-Hriscanska knjiga and author of the bulk of 50 books published by that house. Since his return from emigration in 1992 DJurdjevic launched an anti-Semitic campaign. He remained undeterred in his intentions even in the face of an express condemnation of his activities by the Holy Synod of SOC, of 24 October 1995. The very name of his publishing house (Ichtus-Christian Books) suggests his links to the Orthodox Christian faith and church. Moreover all the books bear the symbol of cross on the covers."
In the Serbian Academy of Sciences bookstore in October 1995 the book New World Order and Free Masonry (reprint of the Belgrade edition from 1939) appeared. The book accused Jews of an anti-global conspiracy. On 27 November the Jewish Federation informed the District Public Prosecutor in Belgrade of the aforementioned.
Reprint of the 1943 anti-Semitic book Under the Star of David and Free Masonry in the Past and Present by Georgije Pavlovic came out in 1995. Author of introduction was Dimitrije Ljotic, and publishers were Koloseum Beograd, Velvet Beograd, Sloga Novo Sarajevo and Slobodna knjiga Beograd. In 1995 Planeta Beograd published a reprint of anti-Semitic book Jews and the Serbian Issue by Jasa Tomic. Some recent reprints with markedly anti-Semitic contents had been published first during the Nazi occupation: Serbian People in Claws of Jews by Milorad Mojic, Secretary General of pre-war "Zbor," Legal and Religious Teachings about Talmud or an Essay on Jewish Honesty by Vasa Pelagic. Reprint of Pro-Ljotic paper Nova iskra was also published.
41 Documentation of the Jewish Federation
Patriotic Movement "Obraz"
The far-right organisation, Patriotic Movement "Obraz", founded in 1993 to back and disseminate ideas espoused by the name-sake magazine, in late 2000 and early 2001 became very active and evolved into a political organisation. Graffiti with symbols of this organisation, cross, alpha and beta, with slogans "Only unity can save Serbs," "Let’s fight with dignity for Serbhood," "Let’s defend our dignity," are drawn on many private and public buildings.
Public at large first learnt about existence of that organisation after the incident at the Assembly of Association of Writers of Serbia, in November 2000. Namely then a group of writers clashed with management, demanded its dismissal and establishment of new, democratic, relations within the association. 42 Security agents, members of "Obraz" reportedly removed the ‘disobedient’ from the conference hall.
"Obraz" is not registered as a political party for its followers "don’t believe in pluralism of interest of the Serbian people, but they believe in their ability to gather together and to accept a unique set of values and fate for all Serbs." They also think that "no Serb victim was useless, as our existence proves…We are Serbs of these evil times." They are convinced that efforts of "Obraz" and all other honourable Serb contemporaries shall be a lasting mainstay for future generations of Serbs who "shall fully complete the oath." "Let us make concerted efforts to more successfully and easily, with God’s assistance, attain our patriotic goals and carry out our statehood-making tasks," is the principal message of the movement. Web-site of "Obraz" is rife with texts denying democratic achievements, espousing a strident anti-Americanism, and glorifying Serbhood. After the NATO intervention, the following communique was placed on the web-site: "During the last war waged by NATO Satanists against the Serb people from 24 March to 10 June 1999, "Obraz" was the only organisation which indicated "black magic, and occult nature of that war."
During the bombardment "Obraz" issued two communiques, "Why are Serbs Invincible?" and "NATO-Satanism in the Name of Democracy," which the media refused to run. 43 Nebojsa Krstic, President of "Obraz" maintained that "the Serb people are most threatened now,"44 and urged a national state, a society of sound Serbs, an economically rich and strong Serbia, instead of a state of citizens and an open society." Wording of texts indicates that at work is a Neo-Ljotic group, whose size cannot be easily estimated. "Obraz" stated that it had stepped up its activities in late 2000 for "then the time was ripe for advent of Serbian nationalism. Then the Serb people were most threatened." The following statement coincided with the political changeover in Serbia: "We are nationalists, and not fascists. Our slogan is: Loyal to God and to Serb people." When asked if he backed Ljotic’s policy, Krstic responded: "We appreciate and love all Serb nationalists, Priest Nikolaj Velimirovic, and Serb martyrs Draza Mihajlovic, Milan Nedic, and Dimitrije Ljotic. We fight against everything …
42 Republika, 16-31 December 2000
43 Knjizevne novine, "Obraz", 28 November 2000
44 Glas javnosti, 12 February 2002 "Nationalists, and not Chauvinists"
… that separates us from the Serb tradition, that is, against globalisation, atheism, secularism and abuses of human rights and liberties." He added that the organisation was several thousand strong, and that branch offices were set up in Vrsac, Odzaci. Novi Sad, Jagodina, Velika Plana, and in America, Canada, and Europe." According to Krstic the organisation has about 30.000 members. According to some sources active, but secret followers of "Obraz" are Dragos Kalajic and Dragoslav Bokan,45 former contributors to magazine "Nasa ideja," and magazine Duga.
March 2001 incident is linked to "Obraz." Graffiti "Korac-Jewish Conspiracy-"Otpor" and "Kostunica-DJindjic Cheated Us," were painted on the building of the Faculty of Philosophy in Belgrade. According to Korac, Vice Prime Minister of Serbia, and the faculty’s professor, those scandalous messages "are very similar to ones placed on the "Obraz" web-site." Students of the faculty confirmed that "Obraz" was behind the incident. Police did not issue any communique, but the media reported that several policemen visited the building. 46 Ratibor Trivunac, member of the Students’ Union of Faculty of Philosophy, stated: "We are no longer a spawning ground of liberal ideas, but rather the one of conservative and fascist ideas." He added: "Majority of our students believe that a group of History Department students and professors, who even at lectures propagate far-right, nationalistic ideas, are behind the graffiti incident." Trivunac also said that majority of students saw the similarity between the graffiti messages and the web-site ones."
TV Palma and its owner Miki Vujovic, aired a large number of political programs focusing on the international Judeo-Masonic conspiracy. This largely contributed to spreading of anti-Semitism in early months of 2001.
Jews were accused of being "murderers and criminals," "the biggest evil of the world history," and "instigators of all failures of modern history, starting from the October Revolution, WW1 and WW2, to bombardment of Yugoslavia. According to TV Palma Jews should apologise for actions taken by US Administration against Yugoslavia. Many guests and Vujovic himself frequently mentioned "Jewish conspiracy" against Serbs or entire mankind, negative character traits and mind-set of Jews, and their hate of Serbs. Such messages were intended for Jews living abroad, notably in the US. ‘Domestic’ Jews were criticised for not having persuaded their fellow-nationals to change their stance on Serbs, for not having done anything to eliminate negative image of Serbs. Unfortunately other TVs also disseminated similar, Jew-bashing propaganda. Similar messages were voiced on other channels, notably Radio Television Serbia, which occasionally re-broadcast the old, wartime, programs about the international, and Jewish world conspiracy against Serbs.
45 Interview with Helsinki Committee
46 "Borba", "Obraz" Manipulated by Remote Control, 20 March 2001
47 "Politika," "Obraz" Fights ‘Enemies of Serbhood", 22 March 2001
In a program of Radio Yugoslav Airlines on 17 May 2000 Dejan Lucic accused Jews of having staged a military and state coup on 27 March 1941, when the Trilateral Pact was rejected, and later a military uprising in Montenegro. Lucic also held them accountable for attacks on Belgrade and attempts to revive civil war. According to Lucic "they are assisted in their endeavours by the British and US intelligence services." He divided Jews into "two subversive groups, Jews and Khazars…they are quite similar, but still different: Jews shall do their utmost to help Israel, and Khazars to amass -money."
Anti-Semitic slogan Death to Jews with Nazi swastikas was drawn twice on the central building of Belgrade University in September 1995. The same slogan was written on the wall of the hall of the Jewish Municipality building in Belgrade on 22 October 1995.
On 27 October 1995 the Jewish Community sent a memo on incident to the Stari Grad police and requested it to launch a pertinent investigation. Three days later, on 30 October a police patrol scouted the building, and later slogans were removed.
On 24 October 1995 the Assembly of Belgrade sharply condemned the graffiti on the building of the Philological Faculty. Only after repeated interventions of the Jewish Federation, the Republican Public Prosecutor on 19 December 1995 informed the Federation that the graffiti case would be handled by the District Public Prosecutor in Belgrade.
On the fence of the Jewish Cemetery on 21 and 22 January three graffiti appeared: Out with Masonic-Jewish Serb-Haters, We don’t want the Dayton Pax Judaica. Jews, You are a Minority in Serbia. The Jewish Federation on 25 January informed Slobodan Pavlovic, Vice President of the Belgrade Assembly and the police of the incident and asked them to intervene. It also filed charges against unknown perpetrators on 16 February 1996.
Graffiti Death to Filthy Jews, Skinheads, White Power, the Racist Movement of Belgrade, crosses and slogan Serbia to Serbs were drawn in the hall of the building housing the Jewish Federation, the Jewish Community of Belgrade and the Jewish Historical Museum on 11 February 1997.
On 26 September 1996 leaflets with the scull and slogan "Jewish lethal vaccine kills Muslim children" were distributed in Novi Pazar. In the text parents were told to boycott vaccine against children’s paralysis…."for it aims to impair health of Muslim children…"
On two occasions, in December 2000 and January 2001 Nazi swastikas and anti-Semitic slogans in English, notably "Jews Hate Your Freedom of Speech," were drawn on all Jewish institutions in Belgrade, the sinagogue, Jewish cemetery, the Jewish Municipality building.
Desecration of monuments and religious institutions
Plaque with inscription was removed from the monument "Menorah in Flames" by Nandor Glid in the 15th -21st May week . Glid’s monument in Belgrade has been on repeated occasions the target of vandals (several days after wreaths had been laid on the monument in 1999 they were torn and thrown around). Police never found perpetrators of that vandal act, nor the ones who drew graffiti on Jewish institutions and cemetery and threw Molotov cocktails into the yard of sinagogues in Belgrade and Novi Sad.
In recent years singagogues have been frequently targeted by anti-Semites. The Zemun sinagogue, a protected municipal institution, was converted into a restaurant by the Radical Party-led municipal authorities in the face of the city authorities ban and protests of the Jewish Community. The then President of the Municipal Assembly and the Radical Party leader Vojislav Seselj and director of the Business Space Tomislav Nikolic met with the Federation’s delegation on 7 March 1997 and promised not to lease that institution. Just a months later, on 30 March, the sinagogue was leased and converted into a restaurant.
"That sinagogue is very important for us, but we did not want to hype up the case and make a too vocal demand," said Aca Singer. He added: "It is very important for Jews as in that sinagogue Rabbi Alkalai was the first to mention the return of Jews to their Holy Land. He had done it before Theodore Herzl, who is considered the founder of a modern Zionist Movement." Singer then went on to explain the long history of the embattled Zemun sinagogue: "Until 1962 the Jewish Community was compelled to lease the sinagogue due to lack of upkeep funds and an ever-dwindling number of Jews. After that the sinagogue was forcibly sold to the then authorities for a negligible amount of money. The money we got from the lease was given to socially vulnerable categories of Jews. We had a deal with the previous Socialist authorities. Namely the sinagogue was to be used for cultural purposes only. But when the Radical Party took the municipal reins in 1997 the deal fell through. That sinagogue had been built in 1850 on foundations of the old, Eightieth Century sinagagoue, which was badly ruined after the WW2. It bears stressing that it has served many purposes, but was never used as restaurant. It is very important institution for us, because it was saved by miracle from destructive hands of Ustashi in the WW2."
Subotica sinagogue met with a different fate. Story about Subotica Jews is a specific one, and it marked Subotica history from the mid 18th century. Before the opening of central sinagogue rites were officiated in the Sremska street sinagogue. But when the Subotica Jews became economically strong 48 they decided to erect "the temple of temples." New sinagogue had a tent-like dome. It was possessed of a unique beauty in terms of design and construction. "It is owned by the city and under the World Heritage Fund document it is protected as one of the 100 key world sinagogues." 49 In Mid-Eighties theatre director Ljubisa Ristic 50 came to work in Subotica in order to "shake up a sleepy milieu." In late Eighties Ristic staged big spectacles with his numerous ensemble in the singagoue. In a play a horse and a horseman both peed in the sinagogue. Restored …
48 30 Jews counted among 184 richest residents of Subotica in early 20th century.
49 Jozef Kasa, Mayor of Subotica
50 In Milosevic era Ristic was one of the most influential leaders of the AYL, the SPS coalition partner.
… dome was also again badly impaired by fumes from stoves, while the lawn around the sinagogue was trampled upon by buses ferrying spectators to performances.
Although the Jewish Community in Serbia is very small, anti-Semitism tenaciously persists as a part of a specific social phenomenology. Under the current circumstances it relies on ideological roots of the Serbian conservative, right-wing factions (Priest Nikolaj Velimirovic, Dimitrije Ljotic) and feeds itself on social and economic frustration stemming from a defeated Greater Serbia idea. Anti-Semitism in Serbia also draws on belief that the influential, international Jewish community, notably (its prominent representatives Madeleine Albright, Richard Holbrooke, Wesley Clark and Robert Gelbrand) has contributed to misfortune of Serbs, notably after the NATO air strikes. In parallel many intellectuals espoused the idea of identical fates of Serbs and Jews in the past decade. Within the context of the syndrome of victim, cherished in Serbia, Serbs are equalised with Jews (Vuk Draskovic: Kosovo is our Jerusalem). One should take into consideration that ambivalent position on the Jewish ethnic community in any future (and necessary) public debate on Anti-Semitism.
SOURCE: Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia