The Protocols of the Elders of Meron: Judge Frederik Harhoff points to Jewish intrigue at the ICTY – Guest Post by Marko Attila Hoare.

This a guest post by Marko Attila Hoare.

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The explanation of the background to this case is complex but necessary. The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) has had a bumpy journey since its foundation in 1993. It has long been condemned by Serb and to a lesser extent Croat nationalists, as well as by left-wing and right-wing hardliners in the West, as a political court set up to serve the interests of the Great Powers. But until recently, it has been supported by liberals in the former Yugoslavia and in the West and beyond, as a positive and necessary exercise in international justice – albeit one that has not produced very satisfactory results. In recent months, however, a realignment has taken place: former supporters of the ICTY have begun to condemn it in the same ‘anti-imperialist’ terms used by the nationalists, and to present its judgements as the work of Great Power intrigue. Their anger has focused above all on the figure of Judge Theodor Meron, President of the ICTY. Meron is a Polish Jew by birth and a Holocaust survivor, who emigrated to Israel, was educated at the University of Jerusalem, and served as legal advisor to the Israeli Foreign Ministry and as Israel’s ambassador to Canada and to the UN, before emigrating to the US. Meron is no Zionist hawk; in 1967, he wrote a memo for Israeli Prime Minister Levi Eshkol advising against the building of settlements in the newly occupied West Bank and Golan Heights. Yet with a sad inevitability, his Jewish and Israeli background have taken on a sinister prominence in the current campaign against him.

As the ICTY is not a kangaroo court, it naturally has acquitted some of its defendants, including some high-profile suspects such as former Serbian President Milan Milutinovic, former Bosnian army commander Sefer Halilovic and Bosnian commander in Srebrenica Naser Oric, as well as Miroslav Radic, a Yugoslav army officer accused over the 1991 massacre of Croats at Vukovar hospital. These acquittals excited varying degrees of anger in the former Yugoslavia, but relatively little controversy in the West. However, this began to change in November of last year, when the ICTY Appeals Chamber – a five-judge body presided over by Meron – overturned the convictions of the two Croatian commanders, Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac, for war-crimes against Serbs during Croatia’s Operation Storm in 1995. This was immediately followed by the acquittal of the former Kosovo Albanian rebel commander Ramush Haradinaj by the ICTY Trial Chamber.

These acquittals were naturally denounced by Serbia’s leaders, including its president and prime minister, as evidence of the ICTY’s political or ‘anti-Serb’ character. Vuk Jeremic, the Serbian statesman then serving as president of the UN General Assembly, responded to the Gotovina-Markac acquittals by summoning a special session at the General Assembly to examine the ICTY’s record, in a naked attempt to undermine it. Such behaviour from Serbian politicians was par for the course. Yet on this occasion, they were prominently joined by pundits in the West – not only those who had long accused the ICTY of being an anti-Serb institution, but also others who were angry at the acquittals for overturning their favoured narrative, according to which Croatia had been just as guilty as Serbia of ethnic cleansing and war-crimes.

The Gotovina-Markac acquittals thereby united mainstream liberal Western commentators and Serb nationalists in condemnation of the ICTY under Meron’s leadership. Bizarrely, these critics were then joined by some Bosnians (particularly Bosniaks – Bosnian Muslims) and friends of Bosnia, after the Appeals Chamber in February 2013 overturned the conviction of Momcilo Perisic, former Yugoslav Army Chief of Staff, for aiding and abetting Bosnian Serb crimes at Sarajevo and Srebrenica. The ICTY’s already shaky reputation among Bosniaks was then further grievously damaged by the ICTY Trial Chamber’s acquittal in May of this year of two senior officials of the Serbian interior ministry, Jovica Stanisic and Franko Simatovic, for war-crimes in Croatia and Bosnia. The acquittals of Perisic, Stanisic and Simatovic mean that no official of Serbia has been found guilty by the ICTY of war-crimes in Bosnia. For many Bosniaks and others, joining the anti-Meron chorus became irresistible.

From this diverse alliance against Meron and the ICTY, a narrative has emerged: the acquittals form part of a sinister pattern. Meron is the puppet-master who has manipulated other judges into securing the acquittals. Even though he was only one judge among five in the Appeals Chambers that acquitted first Gotovina and Markac, then Perisic, and even though he was not even a member of the Trial Chambers that acquitted Haradinaj, Stanisic and Simatovic, Meron has nevertheless been imbued with the power to manipulate his fellow judges into doing his bidding. He is said to be doing this at the bidding of the United States, which allegedly fears the consequence for its own soldiers and officials of senior Serbian and Croatian war criminals being convicted. The Wikileaks cables have been cited to demonstrate Meron’s connection with the official US – even though the contents of the cables do not provide any evidence that he followed US policy [http://www.ifimes.org/en/researches/ictymeronization-of-our-future/]. Facts that go against the Meron conspiracy theory have been brushed aside: the fact that, far from seeking to sabotage the ICTY, the US has long been its strongest supporter in the international community; the fact that under Meron’s presidency, the ICTY has also recently secured key convictions, including of senior Bosnian Serb intelligence officer Zdravko Tolimir, and of six senior Bosnian Croat officials. Most recently, Meron presided over the Appeals Chamber judgement that reinstated one charge of genocide against Radovan Karadzic.

In the absence of any evidence to support either aspect of the conspiracy theory – that Meron manipulated his fellow judges to secure acquittals, and that he did so at the bidding of the US – his critics were delighted when another senior judge at the ICTY, Frederik Harhoff, wrote what was effectively an open letter (Danish original), (imperfect English translation), dated 6 June and emailed to 56 friends and colleagues, apparently confirming it. Citing the acquittals – of Gotovina, Markac, Perisic, Stanisic and Simatovic – Harhoff wrote:

‘You would think that the military establishment in leading states (such as USA and Israel) felt that the courts in practice were getting too close to the military commanders’ responsibilities.’

Thus, in an astonishing non sequitur, not just the world’s superpower, but Israel made an appearance as the guilty party responsible for the acquittals. Harhoff continued:

‘Have any American or Israeli officials ever exerted pressure on the American presiding judge (the presiding judge for the court that is) to ensure a change of direction? We will probably never know. But reports of the same American presiding judge’s tenacious pressure on his colleagues in the Gotovina – Perisic case makes you think he was determined to achieve an acquittal – and especially that he was lucky enough to convince the elderly Turkish judge to change his mind at the last minute. Both judgements then became majority judgements 3 -2.’

Thus, Harhoff again implied Israel was behind the acquittals, and linked it specifically to the Jewish, formerly Israeli presiding judge, Theodor Meron, whom he accused of ‘tenacious pressure on his colleagues’. Harhoff’s claims have been thoroughly deconstructed and exploded, in particular by legal experts Luka Misetic and Bogdan Ivanisevic*
but to summarise: he admitted that ‘we will probably never know’ if his claims are accurate, in other words that he has no evidence to support them; his grasp of his facts is so weak that he wrongly claimed that Perisic was acquitted by a 3-2 majority in the Appeals Chamber, when it was actually 4-1; and he portrayed Meron as manipulating the ‘elderly Turkish judge’ Mehmet Güney, even though the latter, born in 1936, was six years younger than Meron himself, who was born in 1930.

Turning to Stanisic and Simatovic, who were acquitted by a Trial Chamber that was presided over by Dutch judge Alphons Orie and of which Meron was not even a member, Harhoff continued:

‘Was Orie under pressure from the American presiding judge [Meron] ? It appears so! Rumour from the corridors has it that the presiding judge demanded that the judgement against the two defendants absolutely had to be delivered last Thursday – without the three judges in the premium authority having had time to discuss the defence properly – so that the presiding judge’s promise to the UN Security Council could be met.’

Naturally, Harhoff did not suggest that the Dutch judge acquitted Stanisic and Simatovic on orders from the Netherlands. No, he suggested that the Dutch judge acquitted them ‘under pressure from the American presiding judge’ – a Jew and former Israeli official who was not even on the panel. And Harhoff based these conclusions on nothing more than ‘rumour from the corridors’.

Harhoff was the first of Meron’s critics explicitly to play the Israeli card. Following the acquittal of Perisic, Dzenana Karup-Drusko, editor-in-chief of the leading Bosnian news magazine BH Dani, had published a critique of Meron, whom she described as ‘an American of Jewish extraction’, whose verdict established a precedent meaning that ‘it was now almost impossible to indict almost any commander of NATO, or of the Russian or Israeli army, for example’. But Karup-Drusko did not suggest that Meron was acting at the behest of Israel. Nor did she portray him as a puppet-master manipulating the other ICTY judges. Harhoff therefore broke new ground.

Harhoff’s aspersions against the reputations of his colleagues – not just Meron, but Orie, Güney and by implication all those involved in the acquittals – although wholly unsubstantiated by any actual evidence, then became the basis for an article in the New York Times by Marlise Simons on 14 June, which claimed they ‘raised serious questions about the credibility of the court’, and concluded that ‘Judge Harhoff’s letter, which echoes protests by many international experts, seems likely to add a fresh bruise to the tribunal’s reputation.’ A few days later, Rwanda used Harhoff’s assault on Meron to demand the latter’s resignation, since it was unhappy with the role he had played in the ICTY’s sister body, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, in acquitting or reducing the sentences of some Hutu-extremist prisoners. The Rwandan newspaper New Times claimed on 20 June that ‘a confidential letter by a Danish judge, Frederik Harhoff that leaked to the media’, revealed that the ‘embattled’ Meron had ‘exerted “persistent and intense” pressure on his fellow judges to allow suspects go free.’
Also on 20 June, a petition was published by prominent Bosnian intellectuals and activists directed at Meron, stating:

‘Following the letter by your colleague Judge Frederik Harhoff, we, the war crime victims in BiH, consider it your moral obligation to tender your resignation from all of the functions performed by yourself in the ICTY… You, Mr. Meron, have misused your position by influencing your colleagues, and thereby you have cruelly violated the Statute of the Tribunal, the implementation of which exactly you were to supervise, and the disrespect of which by your colleagues also you were to sanction. Therefore, we find it your moral duty, moreover as a Holocaust victim, to leave the Hague Tribunal.’

On 25 June, an open letter signed by well over a hundred individuals and NGOs, either from the Yugoslavia or specialising in it was submitted to UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon, claimed that the

‘general public in the former Yugoslavia and particularly those in communities that were affected by war, view Judge Harhoff’s allegations as evidence of a mockery of justice by the most important UN tribunal’, and urged Ban ‘to use your authority to order a prompt and thorough inquiry, to establish beyond doubt if there has been a violation of articles 12 and 13 of the ICTY Statute, which guarantees the independence, impartiality, integrity and high moral character of judges serving at the ICTY.’

Thus, Harhoff’s rumour had quickly hardened into the mainstream version of events, and was providing ammunition for those with an interest in bringing Meron down. Nor did the story go unnoticed by anti-Zionist critics of Israel. Philip Weiss of Mondoweiss took Harhoff’s claims at face value, arguing ‘Is this the US imperial state or the Israel lobby at work? My suspicion is of course the Israel lobby’. Alison Weir of Intifada – Voice of Palestine interpreted the Simons article rather freely when she wrote that

‘The New York Times reports that an Israeli diplomat turned U.S. citizen – and now president of the war crimes tribunal at the Hague – has been pressuring the court to acquit officials accused of war crimes.’

The moral of this story is: if you want to create your own conspiracy theory that other people will believe but which isn’t supported by any evidence, it really helps if the person you finger as the leading villain happens to be a Jew. Most members of the anti-Meron campaign are neither anti-Semites nor motivated by anti-Semitism; perhaps none of them are. Many if not most of them are motivated by fully justified outrage at the meagre results of the ICTY and a principled desire to see justice served. Yet they are basing their campaign on allegations, by Judge Harhoff, that at the very least feed off familiar anti-Semitic themes of alleged Jewish power and manipulative behaviour; themes that strike a chord among the wider public, which explains the vibrancy of the campaign. If it does not already, this is something that should seriously concern them.

*Bogdan Ivanisevic’s deconstruction of Harhoff’s letter appeared on his Facebook page; the link in this article is to his earlier defence of Meron.

Marko Attila Hoare is a Reader at Kingston University specialising in the history of South East Europe. He is the author of four books: The Bosnian Muslims in the Second World War: A History (Hurst, London, 2013); The History of Bosnia: From the Middle Ages to the Present Day (Saqi, London, 2007); Genocide and Resistance in Hitler’s Bosnia: The Partisans and the Chetniks, 1941-1943 (Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2006); and How Bosnia Armed (Saqi, London, 2004). He is currently working on a history of modern Serbia.

Event – Conspiracy Theory Day, 25th September, London

CFI UK and SPES present

CONSPIRACY THEORY DAY

Sunday 25th September 2011
Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, Holborn, London WC1R 4RL.

9/11, alien visitation, Jewish cabals and global warming – why are people drawn to conspiracy theories, and what holds them captive? What are the warning signs of a dodgy conspiracy theory? What conspiracy theories are actually credible, and why? Spend an entertaining and informative day with some if the world’s leading experts.

PROGRAMME

10.30 Registration

10.45-11.55 Chris French and Robert Brotherton “Conspiracy Minded: The Psychology of Belief in Conspiracy Theories”

12.00- 1.10 Karen Douglas “A Social Psychological Perspective On Conspiracy Theories”

2.00-3.10 David Aaronovitch “Do Conspiracy Theories Have Common Characteristics Over Time And Space?”

3.10-4.10 Jamie Bartlett and Carl Miller “Truth And The Net”

4.10 End

EVENT DETAILS

Venue: Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, Holborn, London WC1R 4RL.

Cost £10, £5 to students.

Booking in advance available at the BHA website. Remaining tickets will be for sale on the door.

Organized by Stephen Law, Provost CFI UK.  Media can contact Stephen on think@royalinstitutephilosophy.org.

DETAILS OF TALKS

10.45-11.55 Chris French and Robert Brotherton, “Conspiracy Minded: The Psychology of Belief in Conspiracy Theories” This talk will introduce the topic of conspiracy theories and outline the difficulties that arise when trying to formulate a universally acceptable definition of this deceptively complex concept. Conspiracy theories have come to play a prominent role in contemporary culture. It is almost inevitable that any significant event will become the subject of conspiracy theorising, and considerable numbers of people endorse such theories. Although the psychology behind belief in unsubstantiated and implausible conspiracy theories is not yet well understood, social scientists are now beginning to address this important topic. A summary of theories and empirical findings to date will be presented.

12.00-1.10 Karen Douglas, “A social psychological perspective on conspiracy theories”. Karen will give some background on the psychological correlates of conspiracy theories (e.g., personality characteristics, motivations) before going on to discuss some of her own and her students’ research. She will talk about research showing that conspiracy theories are persuasive and change people’s opinions about what happened in major world events such as the death of Princess Diana. Karen will also explain research showing that people tend to believe in conspiracy theories when they lack information and fill in the gaps by ‘projecting’ their own moral tendencies onto the alleged conspirators, and will discuss some of the features that make conspiracy theories persuasive vs. those that are less effective. Finally, she will talk about the beginning of a research programme examining some of the consequences of beliefs in conspiracy theories. For example, she has some data showing that exposure to conspiracy theories makes people feel less powerful and therefore less likely to want to vote.

2.00-3.10 David Aaronovitch, “Do conspiracy theories have common characteristics over time and space?” Details to follow.

3.10 Jamie Bartlett and Carl Miller, “Truth and the Net”. Jamie and Carl will talk about their forthcoming (August 2011) report ‘Truth and the Net’ which examines the extent that conspiracy theories and misinformation are entering the classroom; how far young people are equipped with the digital literacy required to confront them. This is based on a large national survey of teachers on the subject. They’ll sketch out the critical thinking skills, habits and knowledge young people need.

ABOUT THE SPEAKERS

David Aaronovitch, author of Voodoo Histories (further details to follow.

Jamie Bartlett is the head of the Violence and Extremism Programme at the think tank Demos. He researches and writes about a wide variety of extremist groups. He recently authored a major paper on al-Qaeda terrorism, which included living alongside radical Islamists. He is currently leading a research team conducting the largest ever survey of the far-right in Europe.

Robert Brotherton is a member of the Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit at Goldsmiths, University of London. He is conducting a PhD, funded by the ESRC, on the psychology of belief in conspiracy theories. He also teaches as part of the anomalistic psychology undergraduate module at Goldsmiths. Robert is currently acting as assistant editor of The Skeptic and convenes the Anomalistic Psychology Interest Group, a seminar group for academic discussion of topics within anomalistic psychology.

Dr Karen Douglas is a Reader in Psychology at the University of Kent. She is Associate Editor of the European Journal of Social Psychology and Social Psychology. Karen is also a Fellow of the Society of Experimental Social Psychology and a member of learned societies in social psychology and communication studies. She has published widely on topics such as language and communication, the psychology of the Internet, feedback, and the social psychology of conspiracy theories, and her research has been funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, the Australian Research Council and the British Academy. She is the co-author of a forthcoming social psychology text to be published by Palgrave MacMillan and the first volume on feedback to be published by Peter Lang Publishers. Karen’s research on conspiracy theories focuses on the social psychological processes and consequences of beliefs in such theories, and the factors that make conspiracy theories so appealing.

Professor Chris French is the Head of the Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit in the Psychology Department at Goldsmiths, University of London. He is a Fellow of the British Psychological Society and of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, as well as being a Distinguished Supporter of the British Humanist Association and a member of the Scientific and Professional Advisory Board of the British False Memory Society. He has published over 100 articles and chapters covering a wide range of topics within psychology. His main current area of research is the psychology of paranormal beliefs and anomalous experiences. He frequently appears on radio and television casting a sceptical eye over paranormal claims, as well as writing for the Guardian’s online science pages. For more than a decade, he edited of The Skeptic and his latest book, co-edited with Wendy Grossman, is Why Statues Weep: The Best of The Skeptic (London: The Philosophy Press).

Carl Miller is an Associate at Demos and a researcher at King’s College London. He is interested in extremism, dissent, the Internet and social media. In 2010 Jamie and Carl authored The Power of Unreason, about the relationship between conspiracy theories and terrorist ideology. Following this paper, both spent months debating with 9/11 Truthers.

Antisemitic myth deja vu

Modernity has one for the aficionados.

Jeremy Corbyn’s open and shut case

Tonight’s Evening Standard reports that various officials are embarrassed by a series of errors which permitted Sheikh Raed Salah to enter the country and lecture the British public.

“I can’t see how the police missed him at the Conway Hall, he was speaking from the platform. It all sounds rather Inspector Clouseau”.

Uttered without a shred of irony by Jeremy Corbyn of Press TV and Islington North, slightly before divulging a spectacular sleuthing failure of his own:

“We checked him out and he denied completely that he was an anti-Semite so we thought it was appropriate to bring him over”

Here’s Salah being antisemitic in 2007:

“Whoever wants a more thorough explanation, let him ask what used to happen to some children in Europe, whose blood was mixed in with the dough of the [Jewish] holy bread.”

In 2003, adamant about a Jewish 9/11 tip-off

“A suitable way was found to warn the 4,000 Jews who work every day at the Twin Towers to be absent from their work on September 11, 2001, and this is really what happened! Were 4,000 Jewish clerks absent [from their jobs] by chance, or was there another reason? At the same time, no such warning reached the 2,000 Muslims who worked every day in the Twin Towers, and therefore there were hundreds of Muslim victims.”

Salah’s Islamic Movement, 2011 – mad Jews against free expression:

“Since Salah received the invitation to come to Britain, the Jewish lobby went crazy and did everything in its power to prevent the visit, so that the Zionist narrative remains the only narrative”

Addendum, on Harry’s Place, Just Journalism reviews the opinions Salah expressed in a Ha’aretz interview in 2001, on homosexuality, women and honour killing, which are even more frightening than his views about Jews. The Guardian (of what, these days?) cares little.

Conspiracy Theory at the New Statesman

Twitter – a place where rumours go to die

Six-pointed star spotted on Ghaddafi munitions? A no-brainer (if you’re prejudiced).

Keep clicking ‘Load more’ on this Andy Carvin piece, which ends:

“The moral of this story? For one thing, rumors gonna spread – and Twitter can serve as an easy vector for spreading them. But as I’ve said for a long time, Twitter can also be a place where rumors go to die.

In this particular case, a rumor perpetuated by several news sources was easily debunked by a group of people on Twitter who don’t know each other and likely will never meet each other in person. “

HT: Bob

America is Israel’s Slave?

Wikileaks and the conspiracist view of history

By Bob From Brockley, this piece on Contested Terrain.

Ben Cohen on Oliver Stone and Antisemitism

At The Huffington Post.

… It was these myths which effectively licensed Oliver Stone’s remarks. If there is a lesson to be drawn from L’Affaire Stone, it is that he did not – and this is why his apology is really by the by – act alone.

Read the whole piece.

Ken Waltzer responds to John Mearsheimer

In a recent bizarre speech at the Palestine Center in Washington DC, April 29, “The Future of Palestine: Righteous Jews vs. New Afrikaners, ” political scientist John Mearsheimer went over the top.[1] He predicted the future in the otherwise unpredictable Middle East, characterizing Israelis as inevitable “Afrikaners” in charge of an apartheid state and Palestinians as inevitable secular democrats. He also characterized American Jews as either righteous Jews (if they agree with him and demonize Israel) or as “new Afrikaners” loyal to the Zionist state (if they don’t).

Regarding American Jews in general, it was somewhat unclear in his mind whether they could achieve the standard of righteousness to which he aspires for them, that is, adopt the views articulated by the likes of Noam Chomsky, Norman Finkelstein, or the crackpot Phil Weiss, or would simply when the time came turn out to be damn Jews.

This speech will stimulate new questions about Mearsheimer, co-author of the Israel Lobby, and his attitudes about Jews and his judgment. That book was sloppy and tendentious scholarship but this speech went well beyond. To Mearsheimer, Israelis are stumbling toward full-fledged apartheid in a Greater Israel; American Jewish leaders are “blindly loyal” to a foreign state. The Israel lobby (AIPAC etc) embraces racism and endorses Greater Israel. All righteous people, Mearsheimer implied, ought to be opposed to Israel on anti-racist grounds. Apparently, it is today okay once again to objectify Jews or groups of Jews as out of step with humane values.

A century ago, the social scientist Edward A. Ross stood on Union Square in New York City watching the immigrant Jews going by, commenting on their physiognomy whose features to him betrayed obvious failures of intelligence and promise. Now, another social scientist presumes to comment on all the Jews – there and also here — and on their moral promise. What happened to the cautious Mearsheimer who told the Forward in 2006 one must address these subjects carefully? “I don’t have an agenda…,” he said.

Read the rest on the SPME website here.

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