Serbia: An Editorial
Genevieve Holland

The situation in the Balkans is very confusing, especially when one contrasts the US media reports with those received from the Serbs, which tell a very different story. I don't at all think that the Serbs are blameless - almost certainly they are committing atrocities. But the situation involves so much more than what we hear in the news, which is very biased: the Serbs are always the aggressors. But the Serbs and Albanian Muslims have been fighting for hundreds of years, for deep-running reasons. NATO's bombing of Serbia is not likely to resolve, but augment, those reasons.

For the Serbs, Kosovo isn't "just a province". It's a religious and cultural and national center, similar to Jerusalem for the Jews; can you imagine the uproar if NATO took Jerusalem from the Jews to give it to the Arabs? This region was the site of the Battle of Kosovo in the 14th century, where Prince Lazar and his 10,000 soldiers were killed by the Turks. The Serbs wouldn't fight because they had received Communion. Then, during WWII, it's estimated that several hundred thousand Serbs were slaughtered in Kosovo by the (primarily Muslim and Albanian) Ustashi, in ways so brutal that even the Nazis were sickened. Many other thousands of Serbs have been slaughtered and martyred in Kosovo in the past centuries, and the Serbs today feel a very real connection with Kosovo and its history.

During the Bosnian War several years ago, it was the Serbs who wanted autonomy and the Bosnians and Croats who were repressing them. But the Western world sided mainly against the Serbs. Throughout that conflict, atrocities first attributed to the Serbs were later proven to have been committed by the other side. A couple that come to mind are the market place massacre in Sarejevo and the grenaded funeral of two "Muslim" children killed by "Serbian" snipers. (The funeral was Orthodox; the photograph, which was cropped for the papers, had a priest's epitrachial in it.) I think that today's reports of ethnic cleaning are also greatly exaggerated. That doesn't absolve the Serbs, of course, but it does give another perspective, greatly lacking in the media.

Last fall, our country wouldn't bomb Iraq during Ramadan, the Muslim holy month. Of course, though, it was unthinkable that NATO cease bombing Serbia for Holy Week, much less for Pascha, the holiest day of the Orthodox year. So Serbian priests had to serve the midnight Paschal Liturgy in fear that a bomb might blow up their church before they had finished. Not only that - this holiest of seasons was mocked by British pilots who scribbled "Happy Easter" on the bombs they dropped!

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