Jewish Cemetery Desecrated in Kosovo Capital
Jewish Cemetery Desecrated in Kosovo Capital
Jewish cemetery in Kosovo capital desecrated: ‘Jews out’ spray-painted on memorial for Jewish families who perished during World War II. (AP, via Israel News, Dec. 1)
Police in Kosovo are investigating who sprayed swastikas on dozens of tombstones in a Jewish cemetery recently restored by American and Kosovan students, a spokesman said Thursday.
Brahim Sadrija said police had sealed off the cemetery in the capital, Kosovo, and are looking for clues. The vandalism is believed to have happened Tuesday.
In June, a group of students from Dartmouth College in New Hampshire and their peers from the American University in Kosovo restored the neglected cemetery by clearing debris from around the graves and cutting overgrown grass.
Rabbi Edward S. Boraz of the college’s Roth Center for Jewish Life held a dedication ceremony at the memorial site, with students taking turns to read out the names of Jewish families from the region who perished during World War II.
I remember those poor suckers, and have been meaning to write about that visit. Note that when it comes to Americans and the Balkans, even the Ivy League gets only a remedial-level education, as my follow-up blog will illustrate. In advance of the PR trip, the State Department issued a boob named Jason Steinbaum to tell the wiz kids all they’d need to know about Kosovo, a briefing that was more or less three general-issue paragraphs.
According to the article about the cemetery desecration, it seems the Albanians haven’t forgotten their German. Well, almost:
On Thursday the hate graffiti “Jud Raus” – a misspelling of the German “Juden Raus,” which means “Jews out” – could still be seen at the foot of a memorial.
President Atifete Jahjaga and Prime Minister Hashim Thaci condemned the act.
“The damaging of cemeteries presents an act in complete contradiction with the traditions and values of the people of Kosovo, based on tolerance and full respect for all the dead and all the monuments,” Jahjaga said in a statement.
For all the dead? Really? In that case, where have such statements from Kosovo officials been for the countless Orthodox cemeteries lying in ruins all across Kosovo? Those cemeteries that are regularly destroyed, including after restoration, forcing Serbs to dig up their dead and rebury them in Serbia? So…what is the contradiction today with Kosovo’s traditions and values?
(Flashback: “[Radmila] wished to be buried alongside her late husband in the Orthodox Christian graveyard, which has been the target of persistent attacks and vandalism since June 1999…Apparently to be buried there is seen as a provocation to ethnic Albanians, but it seems that no one sees the continual vandalism of Christian graves or churches by Albanians as provocation. Incidentally, the old Jewish graveyard adjacent to the Orthodox graveyard has also been vandalised.“)
Back again to the current article about the Jewish cemetery:
…The condemnations follow that of US Ambassador to Kosovo, Christopher Dell, who urged authorities to find out who committed the vandalism.
“The hateful act was an offense not only against the families of persons buried there and of the Jewish community in Kosovo and beyond, but also an offense against Kosovo’s multiethnic state and society,” Dell said in a statement. [Read: “offense against” = “consistency with”]
“The act is one of contempt for the most basic norms of tolerance, coexistence, and respect, and cannot be tolerated.”
Here Dell wants us to think he hasn’t noticed that the most basic norms of tolerance, coexistence and respect don’t exist in Kosovo, which is why Washington has renamed the horror a “multi-ethnic, democratic success.” Take it from Eliot Engel himself from Monday’s email to congressional colleagues, careful to use the dhimmi pronunciation of “Kosovo”:
“USA for Kosova” Exhibition
As co-chairs of the Congressional Albanian Issues Caucus, we would like to cordially invite you to an exhibition on November 30, 2011 from 3:00 P.M. to 5:00 P.M. in the Rayburn Foyer featuring a special collection of materials that underscores the strong relationship between the United States and the Republic of Kosova.
The “USA for Kosova” exhibition will feature materials from the permanent collection of the Kosova Museum, which highlight the recent history of Kosova, the Albanian-American community in the United States, and the strong diplomatic relations between Kosova and the United States.
Today, Kosova is a growing, multi-ethnic democracy which serves as a shining example of success of American foreign policy in the Balkans. We are very encouraged by the progress Kosova has made in recent years, and we hope that this exhibition serves as a reminder of the unshakeable bond between the United States and Kosova.
If you have any questions regarding the exhibition, please contact John Moore (x52464) or Jason Steinbaum (x50385) in Rep. Eliot Engel’s office or Dee Weghorst (x53164) in Rep. Jean Schmidt’s office.
That’s right, Folks. You heard it here first. Some are wondering whether the “Kosova Museum” comes complete with an Organ Sale Giftshop.
But back to the desecrated Jewish cemetery:
Some 300 Kosovo Jews died at Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany during World War II. After the war, Kosovo’s small Jewish community dwindled. The few that remained left for Israel and Serbia during and after the 1998-99 Kosovo war.
They fled to Israel…and Serbia. Not unlike the Albanians who thrive in that ever so sinister Belgrade. But the question remains: Why would Jews move away from Albanians? What about that great Albanian love for Jews that Commentary magazine’s Jonathan Tobin rhapsodized about just last year, and which has been making the rounds in exhibit form to Jewish centers since 2005, courtesy of another boob, named Norman Gershman?
Concluding the cemetery item:
In a statement sent to The Associated Press an American Jewish group branded the desecration of the cemetery as “a heinous act.”
“Holocaust survivors are shocked to learn that a sacred resting place of our martyrs has been profaned by vandals using graphic symbols of Nazi hate,” Elan Steinberg, vice president of the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants said…
If they’d been paying attention to Kosovo, no one would be shocked. But let’s hear from the ostensibly shocked U.S. embassy in ethnically pristine Pristina:
The U.S. Embassy in Pristina strongly condemns the desecration of graves in the Jewish Cemetery in the Velania area of Pristina.
The hateful act was an offense not only against the families of persons buried there and of the Jewish community in Kosovo and beyond, but also an offense against Kosovo’s multi-ethnic state and society. The act is one of contempt for the most basic norms of tolerance, coexistence, and respect, and cannot be tolerated. U.S. university students recently participated in a
restoration project at the cemetery, and we also view the desecration of the graves as an attack on their acts of friendship and volunteerism.
Decoder: “We just went to the trouble of putting together this publicity tour for you with an Ivy League Hillel-sponsored event, and now you’re making us look bad. Again. Why are you trying to give the next generation a clue?”
The embassy went on to “call upon Kosovo authorities to thoroughly investigate the incident and to bring those responsible to justice.” This is an investigation that could actually break with the Kosovo norm, and possibly yield some results. After all, the offended parties aren’t Serb.
Here is a snapshot from that blissful summer trip:
“Students of the Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, USA, joined by students of the American University in Kosovo (AUK) participate a dedication ceremony in the Jewish Cemetery in the capital Pristina on Thursday, June 23, 2011. Students gathered to clear clear debris from neglected Jewish graves and restore what is a lone remaining sign of a dwindling community in this majority Muslim country. The students, from Dartmouth College spent a week to uncover graves left unattended since the end of the 1998-99 Kosovo war and restore the tombstone inscriptions, many dating from the late 19th century”
An excerpt from the June AP article describing the state of the Jewish graves that students found while on the perpetual mission to de-singularize the Holocaust:
US students help restore Kosovo’s Jewish cemetery (Nebi Qena, AP, June 24)
A row of tombstones etched in Hebrew script neatly lines a meadow overlooking Kosovo’s capital Pristina where barely a week ago children played soccer.
“You could hardly even see where any of the graves were,” said Susan Matthews, 21, from Chatham, New York. “We had to essentially find and uncover the graves, take down all the brush that had grown up the hill, wash all the stones so that we could read the etchings on them again,” she said.
Matthews is among students visiting Europe as part of their inquiry into genocide. They arrived in Kosovo on June 17 from Poland where they visited the notorious Auschwitz concentration camp.
Rabbi Edward S. Boraz of The Roth Center for Jewish Life at Dartmouth College said the aim of the tour was to look at genocide “as a human problem not specific to any one group of people.”
“We will never forget the crimes against humanity that were committed here during the 1990s and the suffering that occurred when innocent life was taken,” Boraz said after the group lit candles and placed them on top of a newly built memorial. “We begin to understand that genocide isn’t something unique to a people but is a problem for all humanity to address.”
As for the cemetery desecration’s “contradiction with the traditions and values of the people of Kosovo” as the “president” calls it, one wonders if this doesn’t have something to do with a taboo revelation that appeared in another item this very week: “the rise of Islam in Kosovo” (which we’re not allowed to talk about since the whole point of fighting these Muslims’ war for them was that they were supposed to be immune from Islamization):
The Female Factor (Matthew Brunwasser, NY Times, Nov. 29)
In 1999, exposing wrongdoing seemed like an ideal common to most if not all Kosovo Albanians, united as they were by their fight against the authoritarian rule of Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia.
Now, Ms. [Jeta] Xharra finds there is scant protection for her kind of journalism, as she rakes over the mix of corruption, organized crime and weak governance that is her nascent country today.
In the spring of 2009, Ms. Xharra received death threats, openly published in the pro-government daily Infopress. No prosecutors would take up her case, Ms. Xharra said, because they, too, feared reprisals.
(What a victory. So it was relatively safe to speak out against the “Butcher of the Balkans,” but not so much against her ostensibly oppressed people — whom the law fears.)
Only this past August, more than two years later, did [EU] prosecutors…file criminal charges over the threats. Ms. Xharra said they could not make any other charges stick against the person who had threatened her.
“We spent years uniting against Milosevic, we even collected taxes voluntarily…” In 2004, she started planning her own program, to investigate corruption and organized crime but also take on many taboos of Kosovo society: violence against women, the rise of Islam in Kosovo, homosexuality, holding elected officials to their campaign promises.
…[F]or a woman to challenge the Kosovar politicians who had previously seen state television as an open platform for their views only added to the sting.
Kosovo’s women gained broad access to higher education and careers during the 1970s in Communist Yugoslavia. But, Ms. Xharra and other women note, women still frequently do not share in decision-making at home, much less in public life.
Let me see if I have this straight. The discriminated-against-to-the-point-of-justifying-terrorism-and-”reverse attacks” Albanians had “broad access to higher education and careers” while ruled from the terrifying Belgrade?
So now Ms. Xharra has to contend with the primitive culture whose victory she helped assure over the less primitive, equality-oriented one. This is the oddest triumph and most backward liberation I’ve ever heard of.
The Pristina Jewish graveyard desecration is part of the veritable hemorrhage of bad news coming out of Kosovo in just the past year, which also includes yet another Albanian Hague witness being found dead, a Kosovar killing American servicemen in Frankfurt last March, and of course the organ-harvesting scandal implicating the highest levels of Kosovo officialdom (meet the American who’s been put in charge of burying that investigation, just as he buried mass graves of Serbs in 1999 Kosovo — more on that soon).
The imperviousness of our ruling class, however, is not to be underestimated, and so all the while, far from American eyes and ears, our men and women in uniform — representing National Guard units from places like North Dakota, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Missouri, Wyoming and Minnesota — proudly follow their orders to subjugate the Albanians’ victims, and are authorized to shoot at the last of Kosovo’s resisting Serbs.
Please visit http://www.juliagorin.com for more article and reports by Julia Gorin