FPM Gere-ing Up for Nazi Propaganda
FRONT PAGE MAGAZINE (USA)
Gere-ing Up for Nazi Propaganda
By Julia Gorin
FrontPageMagazine.com | November 3, 2006
Up against Richard Gere and Nicole Kidman, the historical record doesn't
stand a chance. Gere is in Bosnia and Kidman just visited Kosovo. Beating a
dead horse, the former is entering the familiar genre of anti-Serb films
(Behind Enemy Lines, The Peacemaker) - and UN Goodwill Ambassador (and,
coincidentally, Peacemaker star) Kidman is listening to more unverifiable
yarns from Kosovo's Serb-loathing Albanian Muslims (without, of course,
visiting those who are actually under siege in the province - the handful of
remaining Serbs who can't step outside their miniscule NATO-guarded
perimeters without getting killed by Albanians).
How can we fight the jihad when Kidman and Gere are being used to enable it?
Just when the Aussie gave us some hope in so prominently signing her name to
an anti-terror ad in the L.A. Times - going against the grain and calling
terrorism against Israelis by its name - we're still at Square One when it
comes to terrorism against Serbs.
Of course, if our own government is helping the jihad secure its Balkan
base, what does one want from two actors?
For Gere's movie - a "light-hearted thriller" entitled Spring Break in
Bosnia that has him hunting down the fugitive former Bosnian-Serb leader
Radovan Karadzic - filming is being done in Croatia and Bosnia, with the
help of local propagandists as consultants, of course. The Serbs, yet again,
will be collectively portrayed as the villains in the Balkan tale. Never
mind that Gere returned from Bosnia to Croatia ahead of schedule last month,
after only 10 days of shooting, reportedly because he was "too scared to
stay" in the area.
One wonders what could have spooked him. What did he have to fear from
Bosnia? Could it be the ominous signs that the country has been reawakened
by the Saudis from its Communist slumber to its Islamic roots? Or did
something happen that might have reasserted Bosnia's fascist sympathies,
which the UK Telegraph's Robert Fox described in 1993:
"These are the men of the Handzar division. 'We do everything with the
knife, and we always fight on the frontline,' a Handzar told one U.N.
officer. Up to 6000 strong, the Handzar division glories in a fascist
culture. They see themselves as the heirs of the SS Handzar division, formed
by Bosnian Muslims in 1943 to fight for the Nazis. Their spiritual model was
Mohammed Amin al-Hussein, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem who sided with
Hitler. According to U.N. officers. '[m]any of them are Albanian, whether
from Kosovo.or from Albania itself.'
"They are trained and led by veterans from Afghanistan and Pakistan, say
U.N. sources.The first political act in this new operation appears to have
been the murder of the two monks in the monastery.Mysteriously the police
guard disappeared a few minutes before."
Or maybe something happened after Gere "disappeared down a small street in
Sarajevo's old Turkish quarter to film the next scene," as BBC.com reported.
"It is the early hours of the morning and a Hollywood film crew with blazing
lights and buzzing walky-talkies is being put through its paces in the
shadow of a mosque."
Whatever it was, Gere returned to the "villa on a hill" where he'd been
staying in Zagreb, Croatia. Though the Catholic Croats and Muslim Bosnians
are often at each other's throats, they have an uncanny similarity. You see,
"Croatian" is more or less a synonym for "Nazi." Except the Croatians
managed to sicken even the Germans with the creative lengths they went to
for Serb-slaughter, including sawing heads off slowly. (Bosnian Muslims,
meanwhile, served in Croatia's concentration camps such as Jasenovac, where
7o0,000 Serbs were killed alongside tens of thousands of Jews.)
Nazism is not just part of Croatia's past; it is their present as well.
In 1998, NY Times columnist A.M. Rosenthal wrote: "In World War II, Hitler
had no executioners more willing, no ally more passionate, than the fascists
of Croatia. They are returning, 50 years later, from what should have been
their eternal grave, the defeat of Nazi Germany. The Western Allies who dug
that grave with the bodies of their servicemen have the power to stop them,
but do not."
Indeed, we happily assisted them - even providing Croatia with Serbian
weapons to kill Serbs.
In an article titled "Pro-Nazi extremism lingers in Croatia," the Washington
Times in 1997 reported: "A German tank rolls through a small village, and
the peasants rush out, lining the road with their right arms raised in a
Nazi salute as they chant 'Heil Hitler.' Mobs chase minorities from their
homes, kicking them and pelting them with eggs as they flee into the woods.
Europe in the 1940s? No. Croatia in the 1990s."
In 1995, the London Evening Standard's Edward Pearce wrote that "you can
understand Croatia best by saying flatly that if there is one place in the
world where a statue of Adolph Hitler would be revered, it would be in
An AP report the same year described NATO American Commander Colonel Gregory
Fontenot in Bosnia turning to two black soldiers in his brigade and saying,
"It'll be interesting to hear what you two see, because the Croatians are
racist.They kill people for the color of their skins."
In 2000, Julius Strauss wrote in the UK Daily Telegraph, "Five years may
have passed since the end of the Bosnian war but in Ljubuski, one of dozens
of Croat villages scattered through the mountains of southwestern Bosnia,
hardliners are still in control. By way of greeting, the Croat party
official said: 'I hope you're not a Jew or an American. My father fought at
Stalingrad. He wore the German insignia with pride. At the end it was only
us Croats who stayed faithful to the SS.'
The same year, there was this from The Washington Post: "It was not unusual
to see such chilling graffiti as: 'We Croats do not drink wine, we drink the
blood of Serbs from Knin,'.[referring] to the capital of the Krajina region
of Croatia where hundreds of thousands of Serbs were ethnically cleansed in
1995 by troops commanded by Gen. [Ante] Gotovina."
In her September 1999 book Nazi Nostalgia in Croatia, Balkans expert Diana
"When I visited Croatia three years ago, the book most prominently
displayed in the leading bookstores of the capital city Zagreb was a new
edition of the notorious anti-Semitic classic, 'The Protocols of the Elders
of Zion'. Next came the memoirs of the World War II Croatian fascist Ustashe
dictator Ante Pavelic, responsible for the organized genocide of Serbs, Jews
and Romany (gypsies) that began in 1941, that is, even before the German
Nazi 'final solution'.
"And the hit song of 1991, when Croatia once again declared its
independence from Yugoslavia and began driving out Serbs, was 'Danke
Deutschland' in gratitude to Germany's strong diplomatic support for
unnegotiated secession. In the West, of course, one will quickly object that
the Germany of today is not the Germany of 1941. True enough. But in Zagreb,
with a longer historical view, they are so much the same that visiting
Germans are sometimes embarrassed when Croats enthusiastically welcome them
with a raised arm and a Nazi 'Heil!' greeting.
"So it should be no surprise that this year's best seller in Croatia is
none other than a new edition of 'Mein Kampf'. The magazine 'Globus'
reported that 'Mein Kampf' is selling like hotcakes in all segments of
Despite the Simon Wiesenthal Center's requests for it to seek extradition,
the Croatian government remains uninterested in going after two Croatian
Nazis (Ustashi) who killed hundreds of Jews, Serbs and gypsies and now live
in brazen retirement in Argentina and Austria.
As independent journalist Stella Jatras summed up, "Today, Croatia
arrogantly and blatantly flies its fascist checkerboard flag without fear of
condemnation from the world. It has renamed its streets after its Nazi war
heroes, and proudly displays its 'Sieg Heil' salute at weddings, funerals,
and other functions."
Reenter the moviemakers. Croatian film director Antun Vrdoljak has cast his
son-in-law, "ER" actor Goran Visnjic, to play the role of the Hague's top
Croatian war crimes suspect Ante Gotovina. According to BBC.com, director
Vrdoljak "said he wanted to make the feature film because Gen Gotovina 'is a
real hero of the homeland war'.Gen Gotovina is charged with committing
atrocities against Croatian Serbs during the 1990s Balkan wars."
"Gotovina is a metaphor for today's Croatia," Vrdoljak said proudly.
According to London's The Independent, "posters with his photo are still
plastered across Croatia; T-shirts, mugs and lighters bearing his image are
sold and the Spanish wine he was drinking when arrested quickly sold out
when it appeared in Croatian stores in December." Vrdoljak has said that he
is certain Gotovina will be set free.
He has reason to be certain. While to the world, "Serb" is synonymous with
"war criminal" and there is a permanent fixation with the two Serbian
fugitives Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, killers of Serbs go unpunished,
get acquitted or convicted and released to a hero's welcome - as Serbs are
sentenced to death for killing people who aren't even dead. In Croatia,
Serb-cleansing is a national holiday. Whereas Serbia established its own war
crimes court in cooperation with the Hague and has been convicting its war
criminals, Croatians, Albanians and Bosniaks rally behind their Serb
killers, make cinematic homages to them and allow them to pursue political
As for the subject of Gere's fascination - Karadzic, wanted for "ordering
the massacre of '8,000' Muslim males": five thousand were reported missing
by their families when they fled to fight elsewhere before Srebrenica's
fall, and 3,000 of those have since voted in elections. The remains of the
other 3,000, which have been found in and around Srebrenica, died during the
three years of fighting, not just when the enclave was overtaken by the
Bosnian Serbs. These three years of fighting included the Srebrenica Muslims
raiding nearby Serb villages and slaughtering several thousand people. But
they're only Serbs and, in practice at least, Serb-killing is a legal,
internationally sanctioned sport.
As with Bosnia's Handzar division, in Croatia's Serb-cleansing war of
secession from Yugoslavia, the Croats were gifted with an Albanian
volunteer - Agim Ceku - such a Serb-hunting enthusiast that when the early,
Croatian leg of the wars kicked off, this Kosovo Albanian high-tailed it to
Croatia and became a colonel in its army. He led Croatian troops in the 1993
offensive on Croatia's Medak Pocket, where Serbs lived. As Canadian
journalist Scott Taylor wrote:
"It was here that the men of the 2nd Battalion of Princess Patricia's
Canadian Light Infantry came face to face with the savagery of which [Agim]
Ceku was capable. Over 200 Serbian inhabitants of the Medak Pocket were
slaughtered in a grotesque manner (the bodies of female rape victims were
found after being burned alive). Our traumatized troops who buried the
grisly remains were encouraged to collect evidence and were assured that the
perpetrators would be brought to justice.
"Nevertheless in 1995, Ceku, by then trained by U.S. instructors as a
general of artillery, was still at large. In fact, he was the officer
responsible for shelling the Serbian refugee columns and for targeting the
UN-declared 'safe' city of Knin during the Croatian offensive known as
Operation Storm [which the New York Times called 'the largest single "ethnic
cleansing" of the war']. Some 500 innocent civilians perished in those
merciless barrages, and senior Canadian officers who witnessed the slaughter
demanded that Ceku be indicted. Once again, their pleas fell of deaf ears."
Today Ceku is the Prime Minister of Kosovo, and he enjoyed a warm reception
from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice when the two met over the summer to
discuss how best to speed along independence for the Serbian province that
this war criminal governs, sans rule of law and beholden to al-Qaeda.
"Throughout the air campaign against Yugoslavia," continues Taylor, Ceku -
by then commanding KLA terrorists in driving two-thirds of the remaining
Christian Serbs out, along with the gypsies, Croats, Jews, Ashkalis, Gorani,
and other non-Muslim or non-Albanians in Kosovo - "was portrayed as a loyal
ally and he was frequently present at NATO briefings with top generals such
as Wesley Clark and Michael Jackson."
Today, the "bin Laden Mosque," built in 2001 (aptly enough), stands tall in
Kosovo, where Bill Clinton murals and Wesley Clark Streets are almost as
prevalent as bin Laden keychains.
Re-enter Richard Gere, who in 1999 traveled to Macedonia to volunteer in a
Kosovo refugee camp. "Reuters reports Hollywood heart throb Richard Gere
took tea with ethnic Albanian Kosovo refugees in Macedonia yesterday and
promised he would do all he could to help them." On the UK Biography
website at the time, it read, "If nothing else, he uses his star status to
give greater voice to his heartfelt beliefs."
And now Gere will use his star status to naively promote the Muslim and
Croat causes. Bosnia and Croatia, our modern Fascist allies against our
multi-ethnic World War II ally against Fascism - Serbia.
In 1999, Gere said, "Look, I have the resources and the inclination to find
out what's going on in the world. So I feel this responsibility to find out
and do the best I can."
In which case he should want to know something about WWII, to better
appreciate how the Croatia and Bosnia stories played out in the 1990s, and
why the Serbs reacted as they did. Yugoslavia's 40+ years of Communism were
a mere interruption in the multilateral genocide of Serbs, which picked up
where it left off immediately upon Communism's decline.
Though he ultimately came around to the dominant, de riguer view of the
Albanian-Serb conflict, Gere initially had this to say in 1999: "We had been
told it was a totally black and white situation and in my estimation it's
not black and white. Obviously the violence is horrific, but it's horrific
on all sides." And this is precisely the point: The Serbs weren't angels,
and they are the only Balkan players to have admitted as much. The trouble
is that they were less guilty than their enemies, whose side we inexplicably
took. And so it is the Serbs whom we hunt. Because it's easier.
Gere, who is passionate about "learning" why war criminals remain uncaught,
recently said of them, "I'm interested in people who cause so much mischief,
so much suffering.I think we can learn from them. Why they are the way they
are and why are we so vulnerable to them."
Director Richard Shepard echoed that he hopes the film "is asking a bigger
question, which is why are there war criminals throughout the world who the
world said they want to catch and yet they don't."
But in choosing a Serbian war criminal as the vehicle through which to
answer this question is a hackneyed copout. It is yet another
uncontroversial, effortless, risk-free Hollywood choice. (See
reality-departure flicks The Pacifier (2004) and The Rock (1999), where the
setups involve "Serbian terrorists.") The obsession with Balkans war
criminals who are exclusively Serbian is all the more defamatory, given that
wartime Bosnian Muslim leader Alija Izetbegovic and Croat leader Franjo
Tudjman escaped justice by dying free men as their own war crimes were
quietly and reluctantly being investigated by The Hague.
Our policymakers and our media, on the same page throughout the '90s
Balkans, took the Hollywood approach themselves, picking the easy side and
recycling Muslim and Croatian propaganda about the conflict. They wanted a
tale of easy morality, with clear-cut good guys and bad guys. But in no
region has this been less clear than the Balkans. "Spring Break in Bosnia"
is based on real events in which three American journalists who returned to
Sarajevo to try to track down Karadzic themselves - proving Media Cleansing
author Peter Brock's thesis that in the Balkans, the press served openly as
co-belligerents in the conflict. Perversely, for the cinematic repetition of
our Balkans sins, "auditions for extras have already been held in several
Croatian cities and hundreds of people lined up for the chance to appear."
The Balkans drama was scripted from the beginning. By a bipartisan slate of
Congresspeople who lined their pockets with Albanian, Bosnian and Croatian
money drenched in half a century of Serbian blood (e.g. Engel, Tancredo,
McCain, Dole and Dole, Lantos, Hyde, Rohrbacher, Lieberman, etc.). And by
journalists who, in a departure from their usual shades-of-gray vision of
the world, built careers and won Pulitzers on concocting a cheap morality
tale that permanently designated the Serbs as international pariahs, as
Brock explains in his book. And so Serbs-as-villains has to be played out ad
That's why the current movie The Prestige omits any mention of the fact that
the David Bowie character - Nikola Tesla, inventor of, among other things, a
transformer capable of wirelessly lighting up distant fluorescent bulbs - is
a Serb, in whose honor a New York street was named this year. And yet such
civilized contributions are so much more the norm for Serbs than is
genocide - our programmed association with them no matter how many times,
ways and places it's been disproved, including at the Hague (which had to
redefine the term 'genocide' to make it fit the alleged crime). Comically
enough, Croatia also celebrates Tesla, who was born there, in what amounts
to a classic case of the Croatian credo that "the only good Serb is a dead
It's a curious thing that the ones to bestow and propagate the
Serbs-as-Nazis image have been Nazis and Nazi nostalgics themselves. Take
the UN's "impartial" mediator for the Kosovo negotiations, Martti Ahtisaari
of Finland, who this year made it official: the accursed Serbs "as a nation
are guilty." But note that the Finnish government during Ahtisaari's
presidency tried to bankroll a monument to the country's volunteer troops of
the Waffen SS. If that's not enough to taint a man in fascist hues, the fact
that he was the favorite this year for the Nobel Peace Prize should.
We should view with great skepticism the branding of a people as "brutal" or
"ruthless" when the people doing the branding were and/or are, literally,
Nazis - and their jihadist former apprentices. If such breeds complain of an
enemy's "brutality," it probably means that this enemy fights back like none
of the former's other victims have. There's a reason that unlike Europe's
other concentration camps, which were placed in remote areas, the Sajmiste
camp was in clear view of Belgrade's populace. "[T]hat was the intention,"
explained Aleksandar Mosic, author of The Jews in Belgrade, "to intimidate
other Serbs by showing them what was going on inside because Serbs were much
more courageous in resisting the Fascists than other nations."
Our filmmakers, like our policymakers, refuse to take the messier, more
accurate and more dangerous route to presenting the Balkans. For it is the
more daunting task, and one that would bring us face to face with the
realization that was perhaps what spooked Gere first-hand: that the Serbs
weren't just fighting their enemies; they were fighting ours.
Coincidentally, the film which just won the top prize at the Rome Film
Festival is another Richard Gere pic. It's called The Hoax, and is based on
a real-life hoax. Gere and his producers should be aware that their current
project is, as well.