On November 10, the German President was supposed to award the Medal of Merit to the Israeli historian Gideon Greif at a ceremony in Israel in recognition of his contribution to the Holocaust research, which focused on Auschwitz- Birkenau extermination camp.
However, after a wave of criticism of a report denying the Srebrenica genocide was led by Greif and commissioned by the Serb Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Germany postponed the ceremony until further notice, and Said that it is reconsidering whether to award the scholarship award.
Critics say that although Greif’s contribution to the study of the Holocaust was not questioned, his controversial study published in July-the Independent International Commission of Inquiry into the suffering of all people in the Srebrenica region from 1992 to 1995- -It is a “propaganda film” of Islamophobia.
In terms of problems, the report minimized the number of deaths.
it Claiming that no more than 3,000 “military prisoners including hundreds of male civilians” were executed in Srebrenica, and rejected the decision of the International Court of Justice. It also accused the court of anti-Serb prejudice.
The now-closed International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the International Court of Justice (ICJ) have long concluded that Serb forces systematically massacred approximately 8,000 Bosnian men and boys in July 1995, constituting a genocide-this It was the worst atrocities since Europe. Second World War.
Greif’s work on this issue has been condemned by many people, including Menachem Rosensaft, General Counsel of the World Jewish Congress, who Said He was “shocked by the report’s shameless manipulation of the truth.”
The director of the Srebrenica Memorial Center Emil Surjagic told Al Jazeera that the report “as a whole is a collection of lies and talking points of Serb extremists that we have been hearing for years.
“It’s a shame how Greif allowed himself to be manipulated and lost all credibility by an apartheid regime whose policy was to deny genocide.”
As of press time, German government officials have not responded to Al Jazeera’s request for comment.
Greif recently claimed in an interview with Ha’aretz that the cancellation of the award would mean Germany’s attack on the memory of the Holocaust, while Bosnia’s opposition was driven by anti-Semitism.
“I think the Holocaust memorial is under attack-not just me personally-so I can’t imagine that the German government would even consider not giving me the medal that I deserve, because this would be interpreted as denial of the Holocaust,” Greif said.
“Where did all this come from? … As far as I know, it comes from Muslim circles. Bosnia is a Muslim country, so we can say that if we analyze it, this is an attack by Muslims on Jewish scholars—— You can even find the characteristics of anti-Semitism there.”
The political and academic circles of Serbia and the Republika Srpska refused to accept the rulings of the International Court of Justice and often denied the genocide in Srebrenica.
The sentiment came from the top-Milorad Dodik, a Serbian member of the Bosnian President, also denied the atrocities.
According to the Srebrenica Memorial Center, denial of genocide is part of the growing culture of impunity, triumphism and division in the region, which is a cause for concern for survivors of the Bosnian war and genocide the trend of.
According to American genocide scholar Gregory H Stanton, denying genocide is one of the most reliable indicators of further genocide.
Aleksandar Brezar, a journalist covering the Western Balkans, told Al Jazeera that he said Greif’s report “is essentially a platform that can further deepen the stereotype of Bosnians.”
“[It’s] The public claim that the genocide in Srebrenica was the result of the Bosnian provoking genocide in some way is an open Islamophobia. “
Dodik also appointed Israeli professor Raphael Israel (Raphael Israel) to lead a parallel committee to deal with events that occurred during the war in Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia. The report was released in October 2020, entitled “On the suffering of the Serbs in Sarajevo from 1991 to 1995”, and it has also been widely criticized for distorting established facts.
“Just like his colleague Raphael Israel led the parallel committee on the events that took place in Sarajevo during the Bosnian War, Greif, as a Holocaust scholar, is the perfect foil because he made people like Milorad Dodik possible… They funded these two project reports-saying:’Who else can judge whether something is genocide better than the people in the community who have suffered the worst form of genocide?'” Breza said.
Marko Attila Hall, a Balkan historian and associate professor at the Sarajevo Institute of Science and Technology, told Al Jazeera that Greif’s ideas represented “scholars betraying academic principles for political and mercenary reasons”.
“This is a kind of propaganda that serves the political goals of the ultra-nationalist regime of Milorad Dodik, which leads the Serbian Republic entity based on genocide and is clearly interested in denying such genocide,” Huo Er said.
Inciting division and conflict
The denial of genocide has also been used as a strategy to further incite division and conflict in Bosnia and the region.
Greif’s pending awards have sparked controversy as Bosnia is facing its worst political and security crisis in 26 years, triggered by Dodik’s move to split the country due to the split of the Serbian Republic.
The crisis began in July, when the outgoing senior representative prohibited the denial of established war crimes, including the denial of genocide. The Serb representative responded by boycotting the central agency.
In October, Dodik announced that the Republika Srpska would withdraw from the main state institutions and form its own army.
A month later, Bosnian High Representative Christian Schmidt warned in a report to the UN Security Council that if the international community does not intervene quickly, “the possibility of further division and conflict is very high.”
On Monday, the Croatian nationalist HDZ party, led by President Dragan Covic, demonstrated their support for Dodik by voting in parliament with representatives of the Bosnian Serbs to abolish the genocide denial ban.
However, because the Bosnian representatives voted against, their bid did not receive a majority of votes.
When Germany was reviewing its decision on whether to grant Greif, Suljagic stated that he did not know what else to consider.
“Mr. Greif was paid for the genocide, denied that the dictator peddled lies and wiped the Bosnians from their own history, just because they were also Muslims,” Surjagic said. “This is how he should be remembered for the rest of his life and history.”