The sound of gunfire echoes all through the town. Explosions mild up the night time sky as bombs destroy houses, faculties, marketplaces and any indicators of life in them. Overwhelmed and below assault, well being staff in a couple of, barely functioning hospitals battle to assist the injured, largely kids. Nowhere is protected – hunger, thirst and loss of life are in all places.
No, this isn’t the siege of Sarajevo, some three many years in the past. That is Gaza, now. Although one could be excused for mistaking one for the opposite. At present, Palestinians within the besieged enclave are dealing with a disaster that’s in some ways an identical to the one my folks, Bosnian Muslims, needed to endure within the Nineties.
Israel claims its conflict is in opposition to Hamas, and never the civilian inhabitants of Gaza. It says it’s merely “defending itself”, and never aiming to displace tons of of 1000’s of individuals and purchase extra Palestinian land. But the fact on the bottom doesn’t match these claims. Israel’s relentless offensive is just not solely focusing on Hamas. Its siege and bombs are killing civilians of their 1000’s, eradicating total bloodlines, displacing many extra, and – by the admission of a few of Israel’s leaders themselves – aiming to erase all traces of Palestinian life and heritage from Gaza. This isn’t self-defence, this isn’t disproportionate retribution, that is genocide.
In 2001, the Worldwide Legal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) judged that what occurred in Srebrenica in 1995 – the focused killing of greater than 8,000 Bosniak males and boys in addition to the mass displacement of tens of 1000’s of different Bosniak civilians – was genocide. Asserting the ruling on the Hague, Presiding Choose Theodor Meron acknowledged that “By searching for to eradicate part of the Bosnian Muslims, the Bosnian Serb forces dedicated genocide.” Is that this not precisely what Israel is making an attempt to do in Gaza? What can clarify the focusing on of extremely populated residential areas, hospitals and United Nations faculties sheltering displaced civilians with allegedly surgical air strikes apart from a need to “eradicate” not less than part of the inhabitants dwelling there?
There isn’t any doubt that crimes had been dedicated by Hamas in southern Israel on October 7. Lots of of Israeli civilians had been killed, maimed or taken hostage, which can’t in any method be justified. However the genocide Israel launched into in response to those crimes, or its decades-old repression and dispossession of Palestinians that led to the emergence of Hamas within the first place, can’t be justified, both.
As a survivor of the Bosnian conflict, whose family members had been put in focus camps, I can’t keep silent as Israel commits a genocide. Failing to sentence what Israel is doing to the folks of Gaza would imply that I discovered nothing from what has been performed to my folks.
Bosnians have skilled first hand the horrific penalties of the worldwide neighborhood remaining silent within the face of blatant conflict crimes and crimes in opposition to humanity. Certainly, we all know what occurs when the world decides to take a seat again and watch the gradual destruction of a folks in silence. I imagine for this reason there’s now a sea of Palestinian flags fluttering within the wind throughout protests in Sarajevo. Unusual Bosnians are standing with the folks of Gaza and saying no to genocide as a result of they know that is the proper factor to do.
And but, not all Bosnians appear to really feel this fashion.
In response to the criticism of his deafening silence on Israel’s ongoing assault on Gaza, Emir Suljagic, the director of Srebrenica Memorial Centre, mentioned, “This isn’t our battle.” In a November 26 interview with the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Suljagic detailed how the Hamas assault on October 7 reminded him of the early days of the Bosnia conflict, and condemned the Palestinian armed group. He went on to defend his refusal to touch upon Israel’s consequent conflict on Gaza, saying he is not going to sacrifice his organisation’s work “on the altar of no matter Hamas’s agenda is”.
I discover this stance totally perplexing, and deeply disappointing.
If this isn’t “our battle”, then why say something? If it’s not to sentence conflict crimes on either side, why converse in any respect? If commenting on worldwide conflicts dangers damaging the work of the memorial centre, why does it seem like OK to publicly support Ukrainian resistance in opposition to Russia’s invasion?
Some tie Suljagic’s seemingly unconditional help for Israel to his long-term collaboration with the World Jewish Congress (WJC) and different pro-Israel teams, as a part of his work for the memorial centre. But by failing to talk up in opposition to this conflict on Palestinian civilians, for no matter cause, Suljagic is failing to do his obligation. Certainly, by turning a blind eye to the continuing bloodshed in Gaza, Suljagic is betraying the teachings discovered from the Srebrenica genocide. And by making an attempt to attract a false equivalence between Hamas and people chargeable for the Srebrenica genocide he’s undermining the gravity of the crimes dedicated in opposition to Bosnians.
In a now-deleted tweet from November 21, Suljagic claimed that there was “no distinction” between Hamas and the Chetniks – the Yugoslav royalist and Serbian nationalist guerrilla power which dedicated a few of the worst atrocities throughout the Bosnia conflict.
Chetniks put Bosniaks in focus camps. They looted and besieged Bosnian cities. They tortured, starved, abused, raped and killed civilians of their 1000’s. They bombed hospitals, killing medical doctors and sufferers. They attacked libraries and city halls shielding the displaced. The mass graves Chetniks created and full of Bosniaks throughout these darkish years are nonetheless being unearthed throughout the nation at present. They did all this as a result of they needed to exterminate Bosnian Muslims. They dedicated genocide. And Sulajic, as a survivor of genocide, is aware of this very properly.
Hamas’s crimes in opposition to Israeli civilians on October 7, nevertheless horrific, had been by no means comparable. There is just one get together on this battle which has ever dedicated crimes in opposition to civilians which might be as systemic and widespread as these dedicated by Chetniks in opposition to Bosniaks within the Nineties, and that’s Israel.
It’s Israel that’s retaining civilians below siege. It’s Israel that’s indiscriminately bombing and ravenous them. It’s Israel that’s imprisoning younger Palestinians en masse, stealing their goals and futures. It’s Israel that’s committing a genocide.
Suljagic’s silence on Israel’s occupation, apartheid and ongoing genocide displays an “I’m alright, Jack” perspective that means Bosnians can flip a blind eye to genocide, and declare it’s “not our battle”, below sure circumstances. In that case, nevertheless, we are able to now not level the finger at those that remained silent after we had been dealing with genocide. We can’t stand tall and say we’ll do all the pieces we are able to to make sure this doesn’t occur once more, to anybody.
So for the Palestinian folks, and for humanity’s collective future, we should always all do higher. Bosniaks, and everybody else who recognises what is going on in Gaza as genocide, ought to converse up and demand an finish to this atrocity. However simply an finish to this conflict is just not sufficient. We must always demand an finish to the occupation and apartheid. We must always demand a return to the 1967 borders. Palestinians ought to be allowed to stay freely and with dignity on their very own land.
We should help the Palestinian folks and their battle for liberation. Silence and abstention will not be choices, particularly for these of us who’re unlucky to have skilled conflict, genocide and oppression. Now that we’re on the opposite aspect, now that we aren’t those below siege and dealing with bombardment, we’ve an obligation to talk up for individuals who are – even when it means upsetting allies and mates. Within the phrases of Martin Luther King, “The final word measure of a person is just not the place he stands in moments of consolation and comfort, however the place he stands at occasions of problem and controversy.”
The views expressed on this article are the creator’s personal and don’t essentially mirror Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.