Associate Executive Vice President and General Counsel of the World Jewish Congress, Menachem Z. Rosensaft, strongly criticised the report on “Sufferings of All People in the Srebrenica region between 1992 – 1995” which was published last week by a commission headed by Israeli academic Gideon Greif, calling it an “embarrassment.”
Rosensaft noted that the “self-styled” Commission of Inquiry was appointed at the initiative of a “separatist, genocide-denying Bosnian Serb leader,” referring to the Serb member of Bosnia’s tripartite Presidency, Milorad Dodik.
“As the son of two survivors of Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen who were deeply committed to transmitting to future generations evidence of the crimes perpetrated against European Jewry during the Holocaust, I am especially appalled by the report’s shameless manipulation of the truth. It is a document that deserves to be consigned to the dustbin of history, used only to demonstrate the moral failing of individuals — the proverbial “useful idiots,” as it were — who engage in genocide denial and distortion,” Rosensaft wrote for Just Security.
He called the report “an embarrassment to scholarship,” arguing that it “flies in the face of the established record in international law.”
“In addition to being a legal and factual abomination, it blatantly ignores one judgment after another by the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY). The commission instead props its report heavily on one dissenting trial opinion in an early ICTY case,” he wrote, noting that it also “depicts as gospel the writings of largely discredited Srebrenica genocide deniers, without addressing the writings of historians and legal scholars who have reached diametrically different conclusions.”
He stressed that the report “single-mindedly rejects or ignores” findings of international tribunals that the 1995 massacre of some 8,000 Bosniak men and boys in the area of Srebrenica, as well as the “simultaneous forcible deportation from there of more than 25,000 Bosniak women, children, and elderly men” by Bosnian Serb forces constituted genocide.
It also “repeatedly casts the Bosniaks as aggressors and the Bosnian Serbs as victims in a rewriting of history reminiscent of Third Reich Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels’ justifications for Nazi German antisemitism,” Rosensaft wrote.
“The report constitutes the desperate continuation of a quarter century of efforts by Bosnian Serb nationalists and their acolytes to persuade the world that what happened at Srebrenica was not a genocide. These efforts range from attempts to dispute the death toll to blaming the victims for the slaughter by claiming that it was a reaction to Bosniak provocations,” he explained, noting that, in 2018, the parliament of Bosnia’s Serb-majority Republika Srpska (RS) entity rejected a 2004 report by a previous RS government that acknowledged the Srebrenica massacre.
A “particular cynical feature of the ongoing genocide-denial campaign” was, according to Rosensaft, the appointment of Israeli academic Gideon Greif to head the Independent International Commission of Inquiry – “presumably to lend an aura of pseudo-scholarship to what was clearly intended to be yet another refutation, or at least whitewashing, of the widespread violations of international law – among them horrific crimes against humanity and genocide – committed by Bosnian Serb paramilitaries and their handlers during the Balkan wars of the 1990s.”
He explained that Greif has been a “popular figure among Serb nationalists” for a long time and that his appointment was not surprising.
“Over the years, Greif has made a point of wildly exaggerating the number of Serb victims during World War II at Jasenovac, a complex of five concentration camps often referred to as the “Auschwitz of the Balkans”,” he noted, adding that the Jasenovac Memorial Site identified 83,145 victims who were killed there but that Greif has repeatedly “inflated the number of Jasenovac victims, to the dismay of responsible historians.”
“In 2019 alone, he set the number at “at least 800,000,” and “at least 700,000.” – as if the actual record of Ustasa crimes wasn’t bad enough,” he argued.
Rosensaft then listed some of the other members of the commission – a professor of political science at the University of Vienna, a professor of political science at the Graduate School of Social Design Studies at Rikkyo University in Tokyo, a licensed clinical psychologist who is an affiliate professor of justice at the University of New Hampshire-Durham, an official of the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Nigeria holding the rank of general and a German lawyer “with a special interest in international litigation cases as well as cases of international humanitarian law.”
“Yet their product is essentially nothing more than an elaborate regurgitation of the decades-long Srebrenica genocide denial by Republika Srpska and Serb nationalist politicians, pseudo-academics, and others,” he argued.
Rosensaft analysed some of the main arguments from the controversial report and concluded that “if a student of mine at Columbia or Cornell Law School were to present this type of argument in a term paper in my course on the law of genocide, they would not receive a passing grade.”