Germany pulls honour for Israel historian over Srebrenica genocide denialtext_fields
London: The German government has reversed its decision to honor an Israeli Holocaust historian in response to his alleged denial of the Srebrenica massacre of Bosnian Muslims in 1995.
Saying that the proposal to award Professor Greif the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany was done by the previous federal government led by former Chancellor Angela Merkel, the German Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Thursday that the proposal has been withdrawn.
The Foreign Ministry pointed to work conducted by the commission on the Srebrenica massacre of which Greif was the head. A massacre of 8,000 Bosnian Muslims was carried out on behalf of the Serbian semi-autonomous region within Bosnia and Herzegovina in 91995.
The commission's conclusions, the Foreign Ministry said, "contradict the case-law of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, the International Court of Justice and the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide."
In a letter sent to a Bosniak Islamic scholar and cited in Bosnian-language media, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier linked the award reversal to Greif's position as head of the commission, which is said to have minimized the death toll of the 1995 Srebrenica genocide by Serbian nationalists.
The commission had also contested claims that the Srebrenica killings constituted an act of genocide. Swathes of the ethnically diverse Balkan region descended into vicious communal violence following the dissolution of the Yugoslavian Republic in 1992.
Berlin's decision to strip Greif of his award added the Foreign Ministry, "does not, however, reduce the recognition of the services that Professor Greif has earned in researching the Holocaust and the German Jews who emigrated to Israel."
Reacting to the developments, Greif told Israeli newspaper Haaretz Thursday that he had been unofficially informed he would not be receiving the award — and said Bosnian Muslim Brotherhood members were responsible for ruining his reputation.
Saying that being a Jewish and an Israeli scholar is a reason for such violent, vicious personal attacks, Greif blamed "Islamic Brotherhood organizations" in Bosnia for orchestrating a smear campaign against him.
"It's a black stain on Germany. They are murdering the Holocaust victims for a second time," the historian added.
The award reversal was welcomed in the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo.
Haaretz quoted Bosnian Foreign Minister Bisera Turkovic saying that "no one should be allowed to minimize events that have been judicially and legally established in international courts."