Simon Wiesenthal Center
1399 South Roxbury Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90035
Tel. 310 553.9036 Fax. 310 553.4521
Re. Efraim Zuroff’s, SWC (Reuters, Feb 5, 2016) comments about Croat culture minister, Zlatko Hasanbegovic
Dear Mr. Zuroff, dear Madams, Sirs:
I’d appreciate if you could refrain from making defamatory and unfounded statements against the recently appointed Croat Minister of Culture, Dr. Zlatko Hasanbegovic. Mr. Hasanbegovic has no sympathy for fascism; nor has he ever tried in his prose to revise the history of WWII in the Balkans. In fact Mr. Zuroff’s comments seem to be having an opposite effect in Croatia; they’ve triggered now a torrent of hostile, vulgar, anti-Zuroff, anti-Semitic comments on a multitude of social networks. This can in no way enhance the relationship between the majority of Catholic Croats and the minority of Croats of Jewish ancestry. Charges, such as shut-up words of “fascism “ and “anti-Semitism” have been hurled around for way too long — both in the US and EU media – to the extent that they have become meaningless by now.
Firstly, one cannot judge Mr. Hasanbegovic cultural polices in Croatia based on two weeks in his office only! Let’s give him time and sound him out in due time. Secondly, Mr. Hasanbegovic has had a long standing academic career and has published international authors who critically wrote about Islam, Christianity, monotheism, and on various forms of intellectual surveillance, including contemporary academic self-surveillance.
It cannot be ruled out that Mr. Zurroff hasty comments about Mr. Hasanbegovic may have been influenced by local sources, i.e. from some jealous so-called “antifa” Croat intellectuals and hostile journalists. This comes as no surprise. Due to strict austerity policies, quite in line with EU ordinances, the new Minister of Culture, Mr. Hasanbegovic, has cut funding for various Croat NGOs, including groups and groupies lavishly funded by the previous government of Croatia.
I appeal to you to avoid the strategy of “guilt by association” and abstain from hasty conclusions based on some local Croat would-be experts‘ hearsays. This creates a dangerous precedent reminiscent of cultural commissars in ex-Yugoslavia. The Croat people already paid a very heavy price for Yugoslav communist tales.
Feel free to write or call if I can be of any assistance.
Tomislav (Tom) Sunic, Ph.D
Brace Korenika 4
10020 N. Zagreb
Cell. 00385 91 1722 783