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Who We Are
The Editorial Board of Emperor's Clothes
To correspond with TENC, write:
Jared Israel, Editor
Samantha Criscione, European Editor
Petar Makara, Contributing Editor
I started the Emperor's Clothes Website to reach the people with accurate information about Yugoslavia. Since then it has dealt with many issues, but the main focus is analyzing media coverage of Yugoslavia and the Balkans.
I was born in Brooklyn, a borough of New York City, in 1944. I grew up in the West Bronx (another borough) and in Manhattan. I went to the High School of Music and Art in Manhattan. I attended college at Harvard and Columbia Universities. I am writing these biographical notes one week after the murderous events in New York. The area that was trashed with who-knows-what pollutants is my old stomping ground. I've gotten some emails recently asking, "Don't you care about what was done?" The answer is, I care, I care very much, about the American people and about New York. The thing is, when something you care about is attacked, you want to know Who is Guilty? And I don't believe the official story. But let me get back to how come I started this Website.
I was always opposed to injustice. My parents said they raised me wrong.
I was politically conventional until after High School. What started me thinking was Martin Luther King, the Civil Rights movement and especially the Freedom Rides. That struggle hit me like a bolt from the blue. Until the Civil Rights movement I had no clue about Black people. But there is nothing like watching people fight for Justice to give you a sense of their humanity.
I took a two-year leave from college in 1962 and got involved with the Civil Rights movement. (I even went on a Freedom Ride, though 'only' to integrate a lunch counter in a rural town in Maryland, not to the deep South, such as Mississippi or Alabama.)
At the same time I worked for a peace publication called 'Minority of One.' It exposed lies about foreign policy put forward both by American leaders and the mass media. The editor, the brilliant Monachem S. Arnoni, taught me to think critically. His magazine is the model for Emperor's Clothes.
Starting in the mid-1960s I was active in the anti-war movement, organizing on campus. I became a national leader of SDS (Students for a Democratic Society). SDS was deeply divided and indeed it split into two separate organizations in 1969. The part I helped lead had a 'class' (rather than a life-style-oriented) perspective and held firmly to the notion that ordinary people in the U.S. are not the cause of the U.S. government's wrong foreign policies; rather, ordinary people, including white working people, are among the victims.
I saw millions of Americans change their minds. That includes both working people and students in Cambridge, Mass., where I was directly active, and also what I heard about from all around the U.S. I saw guys join the army to fight the 'evil reds' - and then come to see it was Washington that was using terror on a massive scale - carpet bombings, assassinations of tens of thousands in Operation Phoenix, burning and destruction of villages ('destroy the village to save it') - and all intended to force the Vietnamese people to alter their political views. The only movie that really talks about this is 'Born on the Fourth of July,' in my opinion the best thing Oliver Stone has done and maybe the best movie to see if you want to understand the 1960s.
In high school, I had been like the hero of that movie - uncritically pro-government. My girlfriend helped organize a protest against H-bomb testing. I thought she was a terrible subversive. So I've changed my views; now I understand patriotism differently. Patriotism means you care enough about your country to fight for justice.
I remember once, it must have been 1967, a group of us were handing out anti-war leaflets to meat packing plant workers in Boston. The leaflet said meat workers should oppose the war because it was bad for them economically. I opposed that line of argument; I saw it as an attempt to manipulate. We (who were handing out the leaflet) didn't oppose the war out of economic reasons. We opposed it because we thought it was wrong. So that leaflet insulted these guys' intelligence and integrity. And the workers were indeed insulted. They said, "What do you take us for? If the government is right, what do we care if it costs us money?"
The point is, if you want to build a movement to change unjust policies you have to respect other people's ability to think and their capacity for moral courage. And you have to expose lies and hypocrisy in high places.
Like many people, I was discouraged by the way the movement developed in the U.S. during the 1970s, becoming obsessed with life-style politics. I dropped out of political activity until the late 1990s.
What shook me up was Yugoslavia.
I always knew about the Serbs. When I was little, maybe five, my father gave me these old-fashioned-type shoes that sort of rolled up in the front. He said they were Serbian shoes. I used to wear them with my Robin Hood hat plus I had a magic wand. My father asked what I was doing and I said magic to help people and my father said, "Maybe you're right. Those are the shoes of the people who stopped Hitler."
During the early 1990s the newspapers started reporting the breakup of Yugoslavia. The official line was the Serbs were the new Fascists. I thought, "Hold on just a minute." How did the people who stopped Hitler become Hitler? Seemed like an awfully big transformation. So I started reading carefully. The 'N. Y. Times' is the best, because it has the most information. The trick is to read articles critically, look for reporting that contradicts the official government line, and always read the last half of the article. The first part of a foreign policy article is usually full of lies but many times they tell the truth at the end, contradicting the earlier sections and even the headline.
I started saving copies of the 'N. Y' Times' with the intention of writing a book criticizing newspaper coverage of what was going on in Bosnia.
A good friend encouraged me to start writing, get my thoughts to other people, but I hesitated to get involved again. Once burned, twice shy. Then in August 1998, the U.S. bombed the pharmaceutical plant in Sudan. The newspaper reports were dishonest and callous. Not one questioned the official story. The newspapers were full of talk about retaliation against terrorists - but nobody made the obvious point that bombing this factory was itself a gruesome act of terror. There was virtually no coverage of the injuries to the workers, though it is clear that many were badly burned in this attack. They were non-people. Clinton made one speech where he expressed concern, but what he said and the way he said it made clear he was just acting.
It was as if the U.S. missiles had destroyed an empty building rather than a functioning medical factory. So I wrote an article about it and tried to get it out on the Internet. The article is posted now on Emperor's Clothes: "Credible Deception."
I decided to start a newsletter with the second issue focused on Yugoslavia. That was in October 1998. The U.S. was threatening to bomb Yugoslavia, which had committed the unpardonable sin of defending itself against a U.S.-backed terrorist group called the Kosovo Liberation Army. I started checking out a Yugoslav government website every day, making sure they hadn't been bombed.
I was very much impressed with Slobodan Milosevic. Here was this President of a small country, standing up to U.S. envoy Richard Holbrook and his huge NATO forces. Every day Holbrook publicly threatened to bomb Yugoslavia - which of course was by definition terrorism - and Milosevic handled it brilliantly. He would start to give in, then hold firm, then retreat, then advance. It was like watching David stand up to Goliath. And then it dawned on me: he was buying time, using every chance to get his message out to wake up the world. [Note added May 8, 2005: In 2001 and 2002 I devoted much of my time and energy to the international defense of Milosevic. In 2004, following a great deal of conflict in the Milosevic defense committee, which I had been co-leading, I had several hours of phone conversations with Milosevic. Those conversations, and my experience in the Milosevic support committee, have led me to conclude that I had originally misunderstood the role Milosevic played in the breakup of Yugoslavia. Not that he is the war criminal depicted in the Western media; rather that, quite the contrary, he has blunted and destabilized Serbian resistance to the NATO attack on Yugoslavia, which attack employed racist proxy forces, in Bosnia, the Krajina, and Serbia proper. I think he is an example of a certain type of leader, cultivated by the US and European elite since the end of the Cold War. Putin is another example. They lead groups targeted for attack as part of the consolidation of power by the Western elite, targeted because a) these groups have historically resisted imperial domination and b) because the attack on these groups can be used to mobilize the kinds of forces that Hitler relied on during the Nazi onslaught. Leaders such as Putin and Milosevic, while of course differing from one another in many ways, have this in common: that they are perceived as very aggressive, indeed, they are described in the media as war criminals, but their real role has been to undercut resistance to the destruction of their nations, indeed, to implement policies which betray the real interests of 'their' populations, in the obvious form of strategic surrender and in the less obvious form of pushing alliances with the worst enemies of 'their' people. Sparked by conversations with Milosevic, I did more research on his role from 1991-1996, and this research confirmed my growing conviction that Milosevic was a betrayer using rhetoric to pose as a heroic defender of Yugoslavia. I have not yet had time to write up this research, and I only bring it up here because, while I do not wish to hide the fact that he helped inspire me to devote myself to getting out the truth about Yugoslavia, I also wish to make clear that I no longer view him as an honest leader, as I once did.]
I started looking around the Internet, trying to find people who cared about this. I contacted an acquaintance who leads an old, well-established Peace group, but when I mentioned I wanted to do something about the U.S. threatening to bomb Yugoslavia he was cold as ice. For some reason, the Peace movement didn't want to touch the Serbs with a ten-foot pole. I told him what I'd figured out from reading, that the newspapers were putting out all sorts of lies about the Serbs, but he was totally uninterested in listening. I thought, "My God, I've gone to sleep and woken up in a whole new world. The government has taken over the Left."
As I hunted around the Internet, trying to find people who cared what was being done to Serbia, to Yugoslavia, I came upon a book by Ruth Mitchell. Ms. Mitchell was the sister of General Billy Mitchell, founder of the U.S. Air Force. She had been in Yugoslavia during World War Two and in her book, "The Serbs Chose War," she describes how the Serbs stood up to Hitler.
One chapter had an immense effect on me. It was a letter from a Jewish physician.
I am a third generation American of Polish and Lithuanian Jewish ancestry. My relatives on my mother's side lived in Vilnius, Lithuania. They were all killed by the World War II Nazis, that is, the German Nazis and the local variety. (These mass murderers have, by the way, been officially rehabilitated by the new government in Lithuania. They now hold Nazi reunions and march around singing Nazi songs. Real nice. Brave New World.)
Anyway, before I read the letter from the Jewish physician, I knew the Serbian people had been the greatest resistance fighters against the Nazis. But it hadn't come home to me, what they had done for the Jews. Here's the letter. It starts with a one-paragraph note from Ruth Mitchell:
"Source: Letter written by a Jewish physician, a professor in the Department of Medicine in the University of Belgrade, to a friend in London on his escape from Yugoslavia in 1942. As the writer is a Jew, for the sake of relatives who remain in Yugoslavia hi s name cannot be used.
'"In Yugoslavia there were 85,000 Jews, including Jewish émigrés from Germany, Austria, Poland and Czechoslovakia. Thanks to the Serbs, the Yugoslav Jews had succeeded in saving and rescuing many of their compatriots from Germany and German-occupied countries. Service rendered and assistance given to Jews by Yugoslav consular officials in Austria and Czechoslovakia has specially to be recognized. Of the total number of Jews in Yugoslavia about 7,500 were refugees.
"'After the [Nazi invasion in 1941]...the Jews came under the rule of various regimes, including Pavelich's 'Independent Croatian State'.
"'The 'solution' of the Jewish question in the Independent Croatia devolved upon the Croatian Ustashis. [This was the clerical-fascist regime set up in Croatia with Nazis approval.] In Serbia, however, the Jewish problem was not dealt with by the Serbs themselves. This the Germans reserved for themselves. There are special reasons for this. When they occupied Serbia, the Germans did not find any anti-Semitic feeling in the country. They could not persuade either the local population or the local authorities to take any anti-Semitic measures.
"'The fact that Nedich [the Serbian quisling government, installed after the Nazi invasion] twice demanded from the German commanding officer in Serbia and the Banat that he and his government should be given the right to settle the Jewish problem, against whom no drastic measures should and could be taken in Serbia, shows the feeling of the Serbian people toward the Jews. The following reasons were given by Nedich to the Germans for this demand. If the Germans wanted the Serbs to calm down, it would be of first importance to stop the terrible persecution of the Serbian Jews. The Serbian people could not and would not accept such treatment 'of their compatriots of the Jewish religion.' The Serbs consider Jews as their brothers, only of a different religion. The answer which Nedich received from the Germans regarding this demand was 'that the Serbs have not attained a culture to the degree necessary to enable them to deal with the Jews. We ourselves shall settle the Jewish question in Serbia.'
"'With regard to anti-Semitism, Yugoslavia can be divided into two parts, i.e., districts where this feeling was latent, and Serbia, where, it can be said without any exaggeration, anti-Semitic feeling has never had any root.
"'During Yugoslavia's twenty-three years of existence, Serbia has always professed the free democratic tradition existing in the former Kingdom of Serbia. There in the nineteenth century, and later in the twentieth, the Jews always had full civic rights and complete equality with their Serbian compatriots. This equality was not only granted in various constitutions of the Kingdom of Serbia and later of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, but it was also a true expression of the relationship between the Orthodox Serbs and the Jews in their everyday contact. This friendly and amicable relationship also existed in the economic, financial, and political life in Serbia. The small group of Jews living in Serbia gave their contribution towards the cultural and political life in Serbia's struggle for the formation of a state of South Slavs. The Jews had in Serbia members of Parliament. In Serbia's struggle for liberation, the Jews gave their contribution. Several were awarded the Karadgeorge Star for bravery in the battlefield - equivalent to the British V.C.
"'About a year before Yugoslavia was attacked by Germany, by pressure from the Reich and in their attempt to suit their policy to the dictators, the Tsvetkovich-Machek Government passed the first anti-Semitic measure in Yugoslavia. The Government was not unanimous on this point. Dr. Koroshets, leader of the Slovenes, upheld the measure as Minister of Education. Serbian cabinet ministers, however, including the Minister of War, refused to apply the act. The application of it was confined to the Ministry of Education, under the Slovene, Dr. Koroshets, and the Ministry of Trade and Industry, under the Croat[ian], Dr. Andres.
"'In all the schools and universities, numerous restrictions were applied by circular, but in Serbia, Serb teachers and professors succeeded in avoiding or sabotaging the regulations.
"'In this regard Serbia completely differed from Croatia under Dr. Machek and the district governor or Ban, Shubashich. In Croatia anti-Semitism was inherited from Austria-Hungary. Anti-Semitic centers had always existed. Dr. Shubashitch's Croatia had even prepared elaborate laws and regulations just before the war broke out in Yugoslavia in 1941. A large part of the industries in Jewish hands in Croatia was to be confiscated and nationalized. Anti-Semitism was particularly stressed in Croatia by the right wing of Dr. Machek's Croatian Peasant Party.
"'This report could be divided into two parts - the first beginning with the entry of German troops into Belgrade in April 1941 to the beginning of August 1941; the second from the middle of August 1941 until the closing down of the office of the 'Jewish section' late in 1942. The section was closed because there were no longer any Jews in occupied Serbia. During the first stage the Jews were tortured, persecuted, maltreated, taken for forced labor. Well-known Jews and Serbs were taken to German concentration camps. Women of the intelligentsia class were forced to clean latrines in the German barracks, to clean floors and sweep streets under the supervision of the S.S. troops. They were made to clean the windows of high houses from the outside, and several of them lost their lives through falling down. Jewish girls were violated and taken to 'Militar-Medi'. Already during the first stage the Jews were deprived of all their property and most of them were evicted from their homes.
"'In the second period male Jews were sent to concentration camps. But quite a number of men and young Jews succeeded in escaping to the villages, where they lived with Serbian peasant families. A number later joined the guerrillas. A considerable number of youths from the Jewish Zionist organization, which co-operated with the Serbian organizations for the preparation of resistance, actively helped the guerrilla fighters. Many collected hospital material for the guerrillas or posted anti-German posters in Belgrade streets. The name of Almozmo, a schoolboy of ten, the son of a well-known Belgrade dispensing chemist in Peter Street, should be mentioned. He threw bombs at two armored German cars and a tank in Grobljanska Street in Belgrade and blew them up. His elder brother, a medical student, is still fighting in Bosnia, in spite of the order that the mayor and members of the rural councils would be shot if such cases were discovered in their villages.
"'Some forty of my relatives were shot in Belgrade by the Germans. I am, however, very proud to say that today two small relatives of mine, one of five and one of seven years of age, whose parents were shot by the Gestapo, are being hidden by two Serbian mothers.
"'No German measures in Belgrade were able to upset the friendly relations between the Serbs and Jews. During the forced-labor period Serbs talked to their Jewish friends in the streets even in front of the German soldiers and police. During the period well over 300,000 Serbs were massacred by the Croat Ustashi in Bosnia, Herzegovina, and Lika and some 60,000 shot by the Germans in Serbia, during the period when Serbian students and peasants were hung in the main square in Belgrade, the Serbs of the capital had sufficient courage to protest publicly their indignation at the treatment of the Jews.
"'When Jewish women were transported in lorries to the concentration camps, Serb shopkeepers in the streets through which these processions passed closed their shops and their houses, thus expressing not only their protest, but also emphasizing the fact that the entire population of Serbia, yesterday and today, does not and cannot participate in the extermination of their Jewish neighbors.
"'The example of the Serbian people with regard to the Jews is unique in Europe, particularly in the southern part of the continent. In spite of intensive German propaganda in writing and through the wireless, the Serbs remained unaffected. When we consider what happened to the Jews in neighboring countries, in the "Independent State of Croatia," Hungary, Rumania, and Bulgaria, the Serbian example shines out.
"'Today there are no more Jews left in Serbia, except some children hidden by the Serbs and those fighting along with the Serbs in the forests. I saved my own life thanks to my Serbian friends. I was saved from certain death. Serbian peasants and my other friends also saved from death my only son, who was on several occasions sought by the Gestapo in Belgrade.
"'It is my desire as a Jew and as a Serb that in free democratic countries where Jews are still enjoying full freedom and equality they should show gratitude to the Serbian people, pointing out their noble acts, their humane feelings, and their high civic consciousness and culture....
"'I cannot conclude this report without mentioning how the Serbian Orthodox Church, the Patriarch Gavrilo, and his clergy tried to save Serbian Jews and Gypsies. Up to the present day the Germans have massacred I70,000 Gypsies, men, women, and children, in Serbia and the Banat. Serbian Orthodox priests and the Serbian peasantry risked their lives not only to save ordinary Jews and their children but also to save those Gypsies and their children. Today the chief rabbi of Yugoslav Jews lives in America. He was saved from the Gestapo, being smuggled out from Serbia from monastery to monastery by the Serbian clergy. He was handed over by one Serbian church to another, by one Serbian priest to another until he was passed on to Bulgarian territory. There, with the assistance of the Orthodox Bulgarian clergy, some of whom were his personal friends, he arrived at the Turkish frontier." ('The Serbs Chose War,' by Ruth Mitchell, Garden City Publishers, New York, 1943, pp. 260-264.)
This letter hit me like a thunderbolt. You see, early in the breakup of Yugoslavia, which overwhelming evidence proves was instigated by Washington and Berlin, leaders of powerful American Jewish organizations took out a full-page advertisement in the 'N.Y. Times.' Citing false information, they condemned the Serbs out of hand, calling them fascists.
It is impossible to overstate the harm this did to the Serbian people. The Serbs were being attacked by neo-fascists in Croatia and Islamist terrorists in Bosnia. These Islamist terrorists ran the so-called Bosnian government. Our media rather incredibly described the Islamist government as broad-minded and democratic.
And now the leaders of the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee and the American Jewish Congress publicly attacked the Serbs as fascists. Imagine how the Serbs felt, unjustly demonized in the Western media and now attacked by supposed leaders of the people they had died to protect.
And because everyone knows Jewish people suffered terribly at the hands of the Nazis, when Jewish leaders called Serbs "the new Nazis" and called President Milosevic "the new Hitler," these lying accusations carried weight.
I knew this before I read Ruth Mitchell's book, but after reading the Doctor's letter and especially when I came to the part where he wrote:
"It is my desire as a Jew and as a Serb that in free democratic countries where Jews are still enjoying full freedom and equality they should show gratitude to the Serbian people, pointing out their noble acts, their humane feelings, and their high civic consciousness and culture.... "
The sheer monstrousness of the injustice hit me. How could these leaders, speaking in the name of me and other American Jews, publish lies about these people? What did they do it for? To curry favor with leaders in Washington?
The more I thought about it the more I felt that I had to do something to try to set the record straight. That is why, in the fall of 1998, I started to read everything I could find about Yugoslavia, both books and media reports so that I could get the truth out using the Internet. That effort is the origin of the Website, Emperor's Clothes, www.tenc.net
I've written a lot here about my motivation because this is the Internet and one never knows for sure with whom one is dealing. At least you should know this: Emperor's Clothes is a labor of passion for the truth.
Whether effective or not is not for me to say.
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Samantha Criscione is an architect and political analyst.
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Petar Makara is a computer scientist. Dr. Makara lives in the United States but hails from Yugoslavia. He has spent the past ten years informing the Western world about the attack on the country of his birth.