IntroductionIsrael was conceived, and founded, as the state of the Jews, the Jewish State. Although the majority of Jews live in the diaspora, Israel claims a central role in the life of the entire Jewish people. It also claims a special role, indeed a duty, of ensuring that the memory of Holocaust lives on, of interpreting and transmitting "the lessons of the Holocaust," and of opposing and confuting those who deny that it ever took place.
This might cause one to expect in Israel a certain kind of response to genocide whenever and wherever it might be perpetrated. To be sure, it has been claimed that the genocide of Jews in World War II was in some respects different from all other known cases of genocide. But whatever the Holocaust may have been over and above being the genocide of the Jew's, it was the genocide of the Jews too, so that its uniqueness should have no bearing on such expectations. These would be primarily expectations of the state of Israel; but one might also expect a certain kind of response to genocide - any genocide - from certain Israeli institutions, and from certain prominent individuals involved in researching or commemorating the Holocaust and transmitting its "lessons".
This chapter is a brief review of the Israeli response to a contemporary case of genocide: that perpetrated in the war against Croatia. That war has been called a criminal war. I have elsewhere described its salient traits, and concurred in that characterization: it was not so much a war in the modern sense, i.e., a conflict between two armed forces fighting it out with each other in accordance with certain rules that prohibit some ways and means of fighting as uncivilized and illegal, and require that damage to civilian population be avoided or minimized. It was rather an onslaught of the Serb-led Yugoslav People's Army - the third biggest army in Europe at the time - and Chetniks on the civilian population of Croatia and all that exists on its territory as a witness to its history or part of what makes its continuing existence possible. In this onslaught no discrimination between combatants and non-combatants, military and civilian targets was made. The Serbs refused to be bound by any moral or legal rules, and systematically committed war crimes and crimes against humanity, including genocide. (There has been some debate concerning the definition of genocide, but that is of no concern here, as the Serbs have committed this crime both on the definition contained in the UN Genocide Convention and on any other plausible definition I know of.)