On 23 May 2024, the UN declared, 11 July as the International Day of Reflection and Commemoration of the 1995 Genocide in Srebrenica, to be observed annually.

On 11 July 1995, 29 years ago, Bosnian Serb forces captured Srebrenica, a UN-protected enclave. In the following days, Bosnian Serb forces killed about 8,000 Muslim men and teenagers – a crime described as a genocide by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and the International Court of Justice.

Western politicians and intellectuals tried to explain away their inaction in the face of genocide during World War II with the words ‘we didn’t know.’ During the Serbian and Croatian assault on Bosnia, the West was provided with a daily barrage of information and images, from CNN, the internet, and newspapers about the parties and individuals responsible for the crimes against humanity in Bosnia. Today, through social media, the atrocities in Gaza and the rest of Palestine are even more exposed.

The stories from Bosnia, often accompanied by videos or pictures of rape, torture, mass graves, and ethnic cleansing were available almost instantaneously. It was impossible for even the most uninterested viewer to ignore the grim reality of genocide in Bosnia.

And yet, while there was abundant information on the atrocities, there was just as many rationalisations and excuses for non-intervention in Bosnia 20 years ago – the threshold of real genocide hasn’t been reached; all sides are equally guilty; Islamic fundamentalism is a threat to the West; it will only end when they all tire of killing each other; the Muslims are the aggressors.

There was no excuse for the Western ban on arming the Bosnians, nor the complete inaction and failure to intercede, in the face of incontrovertible evidence on the most egregious crimes against humanity to have occurred in Europe since World War II.

Just as in the case of Gaza today, the West played the role of voyeur – a silent witness and enabler of some of the worst atrocities and crimes against humanity to occur in Europe in this century.

Bosnian Muslims were described as fundamentalists, therefore placing them outside Enlightenment rationality and, as such, they either could not be expected to act in a civilised manner or were an actual threat to Western civilisation.

Serbian “ethnic cleansing” was conceptualised as a service to Europe guarding against the dangerous Islamic fundamentalist threat to modernity that began in Iran.

Serbian atrocities were a deliberate instrument of policy. The rapes, expulsions, burnings, lootings, and massacres were a conscious and calculated means of setting up a Greater Serbia.

Western intellectuals, politicians and media claimed that in the war in Bosnia, all sides were equally guilty of atrocities, war crimes, and genocide. There may have been atrocities and war crimes by all sides, but not committed the most heinous of crimes— genocide.

The facts clearly show the aggressor was Serbian parties and individuals who were solely responsible for the war of aggression and the commission of genocide in Bosnia. At the time and until now this has been largely ignored by Western intellectuals, media, politicians, and the public in general a stark illustration of how far the West has put aside the principles established at Nuremberg.

The Serbian program of genocide was also carried out through a deliberate pattern of destruction of cultural monuments, houses of worship, and other institutions that define the collective identity of the targeted community. In areas designated for Serbian conquest, non-Serbian cemeteries and houses of worship were routinely destroyed, in order to erase any memory of the non-Serbian peoples and their culture.

During 1993, in the Serb-occupied area of Banja Luka (the second largest city in Bosnia-Herzegovina after Sarajevo), Serbian authorities and armed forces destroyed 200 out of 202 mosques (99 percent) and destroyed or damaged 96 percent of Catholic churches. Six such mosques had dated to the sixteenth century and seven had dated to the seventeenth century. Non-Serbian towns were systematically renamed, or “Serbianised.”

On 13 February 1995, the newly established International War Crimes Tribunal in the Hague charged a Serb with genocide and crimes against humanity and in April 1995 the same tribunal indicted Serb leaders Radovan Karadžić and Ratko Mladić as war criminals who orchestrated genocide.

Weirdly the United Nations continued to negotiate with them as peacemakers. Roger Cohen wrote in the New York Times that “the overwhelming majority of crimes were committed by Serbs in an orchestrated campaign to eliminate Muslims from Serb-held territory.

Despite all these findings, the weapons embargo against Belgrade’s primary victim, Bosnia-Herzegovina were enforced but the sanctions against Belgrade were openly violated.

Many Western intellectuals either remained silent on the genocide being committed in Europe or reproduced some of the obfuscations and falsehoods on the conflict that they then circulated on the global information highway.

Some scholars inconceivably claimed to have had difficulty “choosing sides” in the conflict claiming taking a stand against the Serbian orchestrators of genocide was partisan, unbalanced or one-sided.

There was a great indifference to the fate of the Bosnians in the media exemplified by journalist Thomas Friedman, who noted, “I don’t give two cents about Bosnia. Not two cents. The people there have brought on their own troubles. But I do feel loyalty to the Allies.”

This problematic attitude is not only wrong (the Bosnian people did not bring their own troubles on themselves but were brutally attacked by Serbs under the direction of Belgrade), but it is patently immoral. Can one imagine the outcry if one were to say that European Jews in Germany had brought on their own troubles?

It is unthinkable today that Adolf Hitler might have been interviewed on television and allowed to defend his racist positions and heinous acts, yet Serb leaders and spokesmen got all the play they wanted on CNN and were interviewed frequently by major media.

Jimmy Carter was sometimes interviewed alongside them and, in one instance, brought flowers to indicted war criminal Radovan Karadzic. Serbia’s government agencies routinely disseminated propaganda advertisements as well as statements in the Western press – usually equating the Jews and Serbs as historical victims of Croats and Muslims.

Such propaganda, as Daniel Kofman pointed out in his criticism of Israeli-Serbian relations seem to have been accepted by many leading Israeli intellectuals, media figures, and politicians. In his essay, Kofman wrote that while diaspora Jews responded sympathetically to the fate of the Bosnians, many Israeli elites, including intellectuals, were indulgent of Serbia. There were Serbian Israelis actively supporting Serbia.

It was shocking how many Western intellectuals and scholars framed the conflict in pro-Serbian terms and repeated noncredible and nonsensical pro Serbian propaganda that was clearly factually and historically inaccurate and highly questionable.

This framing of the conflict by Western media and intellectuals made it difficult for the public to understand the extent of the war crimes and the fact that genocide was taking place. The obfuscation of genocide and war crimes in Bosnia by the West resulted in the framing the conflict in pro-Serbian anti-Bosnian terms.

The Serbs and Zionists harbour similar anti-Islam sentiments steeped in their own congenital rational. Serbs hate fellow Slavs for becoming Muslim and proclaiming their Bosnian identity while Zionists hate fellow Semites for becoming Muslim and proclaiming their Palestinian identity. Both deny them the right to a state of their own or that it ever existed.

This is well narrated by Israeli historian Shlomo Sands. Both push the narrative of hatred and Islamophobia framing the narrative in a way that paints the aggressors – the Serbs and the Zionists – as the victims and the Bosnian and Palestinian victims as the aggressors who are a threat to ‘civilisation’ whose claims to a national identity have no basis and that the aggressors are reclaiming their historical rights to the land.

They both claim that the victims of genocide and war crimes are deliberately causing the harm being inflicted on them. They both ignore the history of centuries of Muslim tolerance and coexistence while using the conflict as an excuse to destroy the historical evidence of a Muslim presence and tradition.