The other day I met a group of folks from Serbia. I had been asked to give them a lecture about the Final Solution, while relating to their context, namely the centrality of the murder of hundreds of thousands of Serbs by Croats during the war (perhaps as many as 800,000 Serbs were murdered).
Casting about for a way of explaining the fundamental difference between inter-ethnic hatreds in Yugoslavia and hatred of the Jews, I mentioned that a traveler in Europe of the1930s would have found groups dedicated to hatred of the Jews in any and every European country; hatred of Serbs, on the other hand, was virulent in Croatia, but non-existent outside the area of conflict. This also meant that Serbs in Yugoslavia were in grave danger, but Serbs in Paris were not; Jews were in grave danger everywhere.
This hasn't changed, I added. In any and every Western country today there are people who are fervently committed to hating Israel. In spite of some rather ugly Serbian policies these past two decades, the same is not true about Serbs - not remotely.
They nodded thoughtfully, and accepted my thesis. I'm telling the story as background to this bitter little song. You could easily see it as an example of self-righteous Israeli self-pity and propaganda - except that unfortunately it's a reflection of a dismal reality:
There was another interesting thing about that group of Serbs. During the discussion they described themselves as human rights activists- which initially put me on guard. Then, however, as the discussion progressed, it became clear that they really are human rights activists, in the old, anti-police-state and pro-democracy meaning of the term, the one it was invented for in a previous era. They hail from a place where democracy is brand new, and until very recently they didn't have the freedoms the rest of us take for granted. For them, human rights is about human rights, and defending democracy is an urgent mission which could still fail. How startling.
(Update: I fixed the spelling of Croatia, thanks.)