Part Six


The work of propaganda

In the same city of Chicago, in March of 1992, a meeting was held of exceptional importance for the further propaganda work of Serbs in America, the Cleveland radio program "Serbian Hour" announces:

The SerbNet Central has gathered Serbian national organizations and prominent Serbs in the USA. It [the Central] can begin work. Formation of the SerbNet network was necessitated because of the need to beat back the one-sided, biased information in the foreign media about events in Yugoslavia, as well as anti-Serbian propaganda. American Congresswoman Helen Delich [Bentley], who enjoys the undivided trust of all Serbian groups and organizations as well as individuals, has called for unity in order to influence the media so that they show Serbia and the Serbian people objectively. Thanks to Helen Delich Bentley, all Serbian organizations and their leaders are now in a single organization. At the latest meeting, which was held in Chicago two weeks ago, Helen Delich Bentley was elected president of SerbNet, and vice presidents are Bob Stone and Dr. Rajko Tomovic.

("Serbian Hour," March 29, 1992.)

It is interesting that this news item speaks of the "beating back of one-sided, biased information in the foreign media," but the American media are not explicitly mentioned. This could mean one of two things: either the American media are not mentioned out of respect for the country in which Serbs are living, or the Serbs of SerbNet are satisfied with the writing of the American media. It is also interesting that, though Congresswoman Bentley is not satisfied with the media's depiction of Serbia, she is entirely satisfied with the American policy towards former Yugoslavia: Bentley was the only individual I interviewed who expressed complete satisfaction with U.S. policy. Even Representative Jim Moody, who also has strong Serbian sympathies, regretted that the United States hadn't played a more active role as a broker between the [conflicting] parties.

(P. Glynn, "Yugoblunder," The New Republic, February 24, 1992, pp. 16-17.)

Every Sunday evening, the Cleveland Public Radio Station WCPN broadcasts a fifty-four-minute political and folkloric program called the "Serbian Hour," in English and Serbian. The program's editor is George Djelic, the speaker is Dobrana Radakovic. The political program is enriched by telephone reports from Belgrade journalists and interviews with more prominent Serbian politicians (Vojislav Seselj, Radovan Karadzic, Milan Babic, and others), Helen Delich, Jim Moody, etc. As the program's speaker herself announces cassette recordings of the program "Serbian Hour" are circulating "from Alaska to Australia." The program is so popular that some dignitaries of the Serbian Orthodox Church order its cassettes. "The Serbian Hour" broadcast in Serbian on May 31, 1992, after the U.N. imposed sanctions on Serbia, an excerpt from the book Reci srpskom narodu kroz tamnicki prozor [Words to the Serbian people through a jail window] by the Serbian bishop Nikolaj Velimirovic, framed as follows by commentary: In place of our commentary on events in our father- land and the [U.N.] condemnation of the Serbian people as an aggressor, we offer the words of Vladika Nikolaj [Velimirovic], written at the time of his captivity in the concentration camp of Dachau:

'There are events in the history of the human race which, like a great bell, ring every day in the ears of those who are not deaf and summon their conscience to alarm. One such event, which for thousands of years already has disturbed the human conscience, is the narrower choice between Jesus Christ and Varavvas, or Barabbas, as the Western heretics pronounce it. It was Pontius Pilate, a Roman polytheist, who was both the president and proposer of this election, the voters were the Jews, monotheists. Pilate attempted everything in order to free Jesus, for he could find no fault in him. His final attempt was offering the Jews the choice of either Jesus or Barabbas. He reasoned logically: not one charge against Jesus was proven, whereas all the charges against Barabbas were proven and were obvious. Barabbas had earned death as a rebel and a blood-sucker. Pilate hoped that the conscience of the Jewish elders was not entirely burnt out and that they would be able to rise above personal malice and wickedness and to prefer a just man to a criminal. Pilate surely also thought that the choice would be for Jesus because of the greatest holiday, on whose eve this choice was to be carried out. Because, for what purpose is the great holiday if not to cleanse and revive man's conscience? A monotheistic people, the holiday of Passover, the righteous man Jesus. Pilate believed that in a few minutes, by the liberation of the righteous man Jesus, he would make happy his wife, Claudia, who had begged him not to spill the blood of this righteous man, and so the polytheist Pilate cried to the monotheist Jews: "Whom do you want me to release to you: Barabbas or Jesus?" But to the exceeding surprise of the polytheist Pilate, the monotheistic Jews cried out with a single voice: "Barabbas! Barabbas!" Pale and confused by such a choice, Pilate asked one other question of that irrational and conscienceless Satanic rabble [toj beslovesnoj i nesavesnoj rulji satanskoj], a polytheist to the monotheists: "And what am I to do with Jesus?" To this the monotheists began to howl like hungry jackals: "Crucify him! Crucify him!" And the polytheist Pilate washed his hands of the blood of the righteous man, and the jackals in human skin once again began to bark rabidly: "His blood is on us and on our children!" which happened and which happens too to the present day. Barabbas was set free, and the Son of God, the Messiah and Savior of the world, was driven to Golgotha and crucified on the cross. And while the greatest righteous man under the sun and above the sun expired in torment on the cross, Barabbas treated his voters to drinks in the beer- halls of Jerusalem. This is truly the great bell which every day disturbs the conscience of humanity. Everyone asks himself, "How could that have happened?" And we ask ourselves, "How can that also happen this very day?" For do you not see, brethren, that today as well Barabbas wins in elections, and Jesus loses? The cause of the gloomy tragedy of today's humanity can bc explained with a single word: for they chose Barabbas in place of Christ. For they have become Barabbases, rather than being Christians. Their goals are barbarian, their methods too arc barbarian. Their goal is to elevate themselves and their people to the skies, and to trample all other people and peoples like mud. And their methods are the same as those of that first Barabbas: secret conspiracy, falsehood, rebellion and blood.'

These have been the words of Vladika Nikolaj from the book Words to the Serbian people through a jail window.

This anti-Semitic piece probably needs no commentary, though one may also be struck by the offensiveness of the less obvious associations (for example, that the Serbs are messiahs whom the rest of the heretical world wants to crucify, that elections as a means of social determination are corrupt etc., and that the position of Serbia in the world today echoes its supposed total victimization during the Second World War). It is also interesting that the editors' commentary that frames Bishop Velimirovic"s text does not address what he was doing writing a piece like this a few yards from the gas chambers - or the fact-that he (unlike many of the Jewish prisoners) presumably survived Dachau and lived to see his writings published. It seems that Bishop Velimirovic continued in Germany the same anti-Semitic policy of the Church in Serbia. Namely, in January 1942, Metropolitan Josif, the acting head of the Holy Synod of the Serbian Orthodox Church, adopted a proclamation prohibiting conversions of Jews to Serbian Orthodoxy. This proclamation, issued in cooperation with the occupying Nazi military authorities, thereby blocked one means of saving Jewish lives. (See Tomislav Vukovic, Mozaik izdaje (Zagreb: HKD sv. Cirila i Metodija, 1991), p. 220.).