Huff and Puff on Srebrenica Genocide Denial

Robert Spencer has invited me to arrange a debate with him. I would agree that Twitter limits proper detailed exchanges, but it does reveal the nature of how someone debates. Blogs also provide an ability to discuss things and time to respond. So first let us talk about Srebrenica Genocide and then come to what Rob was saying to me on Twitter after yesterday’s post of our earlier exchange on there.



Spencer hides behind saying only repeating reports on what a minority have said on genocide denial. In repeating the deniers claims he had this to say for himself before quoting them:

[TITLE, which is a quote from article Robert will eventually link to hence quotation marks*] “After 14 years of investigating events that took place in Srebrenica in 1995 I can attest there was no genocide over Muslims in that enclave”

[Now Robert Spencer’s written introduction before he further quotes Caleb Posner’s article follows]

The strange thing about this case is that self-proclaimed anti-jihadists who have no trouble recognizing Palestinian “Paliwood” War-Is-Deceit propaganda designed to advance the jihad cause by manufacturing Israeli atrocities, and who even recognize fauxtography generated by the Palestinians, Iran, and others for the same purpose, refuse even to consider the possibility that Muslims could have carried out any deceptive atrocity-manufacturing in the Balkans. Indeed, some even charge that anyone who thinks that Balkan Islamic jihadists carried out any deception at all must be secretly a sympathizer of this genocide-that-never-was. [Jihad Watch] [Emphasis added]

Robert in your own words you said “this genocide-that-never-was”. You have said it, as a matter of public record. It is not wrong to say you side with genocide deniers; more accurate you identify yourself as one. This is beyond linking to other articles. Recently you have said about Srebrenica denial:

“Perhaps some challenge can be made to these claims, but it is a legitimate discussion that needs to be had.” [Jihad Watch]

The “legitimate debate” defence is reminiscent of intelligent design, that there is a another point of view which has as much credibility. For Robert note he is saying the challenge is for those saying there was a genocide. I am always fascinated by how we know things, and a historian must go by evidence, just as a scientist does. Nowadays these two fields come together as the International Commission of Missing People (ICMP) report:

ICMP estimates that between 8,000 and 8,100 individuals went missing from the 1995 fall of Srebrenica. In an effort to DNA identify these victims, ICMP has collected blood samples from 22,160 family members of 7,773 reported victims and compared them with DNA profiles from post mortem samples excavated from mass graves. Of the 7,040 unique profiles extracted from bone samples, 6,838 persons have now been DNA identified by ICMP.

Thus far, of the 40,000 persons missing from the conflicts of the 1990’s in the former Yugoslavia, over 70% have been accounted for. ICMP has assisted governments in the region in accurately identifying 16,722 persons, of which 13,964 relate to the Bosnia and Herzegovina.

According to forensic experts, Srebrenica presents the most complicated forensic challenge in terms of locating and identifying the victims. This is because the initial mass grave sites containing the mortal remains of victims were disturbed and the contents removed and buried in a series of secondary sites in an attempt to conceal evidence. As a consequence, body parts are found disarticulated in numerous primary and secondary mass grave sites. In many cases body parts of one individual have been found in several different mass graves. ICMP forensic anthropologists use DNA analysis as a tool in re-associating disarticulated parts of the same body.

“The task of locating and identifying the 40,000 persons that went missing in the former Yugoslavia is an arduous one,” said Kathryne Bomberger, the Director-General of ICMP. “There is no doubt that the use of DNA technology has been instrumental in accounting for persons that would never have been found. This is clearly the case with Srebrenica. If DNA had not been used as the primary means of identification, we would never have known the identity of these 6,838 individuals,” she added. “We hope that by providing this type of assistance to governments, that we are not only helping victims of these atrocities, but also ensuring that governments in the region take responsibility for addressing this painful legacy of the conflict.” [International Commission on Missing Persons]

A detailed prelude to the Srebrenica Genocide can be read here

The evidence is closer to the 8,000 killed from the fall of Srebrenica than several thousand as deniers claim.

Debate Me!

How did Robert Spencer respond to my post yesterday to encourage me to debate him on the deniers claims given what he has said above? Claimed I was lying about him ever saying such things and trumped up slurs on my character.



The sweet talking continued after Louis who read the links in my post about Srebrenica to Robert’s blog continued:


We need to support the people of Israel and Palestine always standing with those that support human rights and democracy.

My mentioning Hamas barbarically used human shields so the Israeli response in the 2008-9 conflict lacked the precision to reduce civilian casualties was seized on by Robert as Jew hating as mentioned in a previous post. He now adds enabling global terrorist jihad to his limited mud slinging repartee.


Regular readers of my blog know how inaccurate those statements are.

Regarding Israel my Commentator article here supporting Israel over criticisms of moral relativism on intervening in Syria by Mehdi Hasan and Mo Ansar. Readers will also be familiar that I criticised Dawkins for saying Rabbi Boteach shrieks like Hitler.

Robert continues in his usual civil tone:


Then a cordial invitation by Robert again:


In the light of day

So am I running away if I do not debate Robert Spencer? After all, despite his provocations I have not blocked him from finding me on twitter knowing that could be perceived as such. Robert had this to say about The Commentator:

This raises the question of whether the editors of The Commentator, as the situation continues to deteriorate in Britain, will ultimately choose to fight for human rights even alongside those who are shrill and abrasive, or will go gently into that good night, satisfied with themselves that while they did dare to make a small noise against the established corruption, they refrained from getting shrill or abrasive about it. [Jihad Watch]

This article shows that not only will we stand for human rights, but we do so far better without being shoulder to shoulder with Robert Spencer, even as we speak up for free speech not least so we know where he stands.

*[UPDATE: let me make clear this “After … enclave” is a quote from source of article Caleb Posner, that Rob includes after the next paragraph. I never pretended otherwise which is why I never emphasised.

It is the reason why I emphasise in bold below the introduction that now follows is because it is not in the source linked to, and as post says Robert, can be taken to be written by Robert Spencer unless he failed to attribute the preamble to anyone. I have asked him in particular to clarify this point]

Further clarification 7:10pm:

I accept that was not as clear as originally written, but what was emphasised in quoting the Jihad Watch post was what Robert did write: “this genocide-that-never-was”. In my main remarks drawing attention to that phrase makes clear that was my focus. Had I honestly thought the title, with its quotation marks around it, was Spencer that would have been my focus instead.

We can draw our own conclusion why he chose that particular quote of Posner’s as the title of his post: “After 14 years of investigating events that took place in Srebrenica in 1995 I can attest there was no genocide over Muslims in that enclave”.

Hopefully Spencer will now tell us in his own words how many died in Srebrenica and whether he out rightly rejects and condemns the content of the reposts he has done written by genocide deniers.

You wanted a debate Rob. I look forward to you finding the time to reply on your blog, commenting here, or on Hurry Up.

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

Follow @JPSargeant78



Filed under British Politics, British Society, Religion

10 responses to “Huff and Puff on Srebrenica Genocide Denial

  1. “The evidence is closer to the 8,000 killed from the fall of Srebrenica than several thousand as deniers claim.”

    I was a bit confused by that bit – are you using ‘several’ in the (I think) US sense of ‘few’? i.e the deniers set the total very low, but even conservative evidence-based estimates are quite close to 8,000?

    • If you follow the Jihad Watch links the deniers quoted by Spencer have several thousand (1-2 thousand) at most in two articles.

      Rather than 8,000 killed as part of ethnic cleansing, which is the respected count.

  2. When I was on assignment in Belgrade in 2000, I remember that the figure of 1-2,000 dead at Srebrenica was constantly bandied around. I don’t believe this was a number reached scientifically; they just wanted to make it sound “acceptably” low.
    And this is the point. Like Holocaust deniers, Srebrenica deniers don’t examine facts. They are predisposed to denial on the basis of their hatred for their target group. If 8,000 Serbs had been killed at Srebrenica, you can rest assured that people like Spencer would be shouting from the rooftops. But as it was 8,000 Bosniaks – or in Spencer’s parlance, “jihadi terror enablers” – then it’s obviously a lie.
    While your openness to debate does you credit, John, I respectfully ask you, are these people worth your time and energy?

  3. Lajla

    I am Bosnian.
    To be honest after what we went trough,do “people”really think that denial or words could hurt us anymore.Who gives the shit-(forgive my language)We are not even angry as much as we should be.
    What is the acceptable number of our killed people to be seen as a crime,genocide?!

    Not enough for you,couple of thousands?!
    How many of us should die in our own cities,houses in our own land?

    Yesterday on one the lists of missing people in Bosnia,i run into the name and last name of someone I have never met,however mere coincidence that person in my life now is having the same name-made me think,what if this was him?
    This week we are burying more people so out of respect I will leave at that.

    Thank you,you are one person but to us more important than hundred of crazy people.

  4. Pingback: Robert Spencer Responds on Srebrenica | Homo economicus' Weblog

  5. I know I’m slightly late to the conversation, but I just want to add my views.

    It’s highly telling that even Spencer has distanced himself from the denialist position advanced by Geller and co, and is reluctant to openly identify with such a rotten cause. Whereas Geller denies the massacre, openly referring to it as a ‘hoax’ among other things, Spencer has on Twitter accused people of being ‘smear artists’ and liars for attributing such views to him, and has posted a ‘rebuttal’ to the charge on his website where he claims he never denied the massacre. Of course, Spencer has vacillated over what his own view on Srebrenica is, and has bought into a lot of the denialist case – denying the fact of genocide, blaming the victims and casting doubt on the death toll, But it is indicative that even the guru of ‘counter-jihadism’ himself is embarrassed to have the denialist position attributed to him outright.

    So far as Srebrenica is concerned, Spencer has really tried to have his cake and eat it, and has vacillated back and forth. So he posted his ‘rebuttal’ a few months ago, where he distanced himself from Geller and suggested that he was merely concerned with the appropriateness of the term ‘genocide’ in relation to Srebrenica. He claimed he had never denied that massacre, and that it was ‘unquestionably heinous’.

    That’s all well and good, yet as you point out, he has elsewhere repeated other elements of the denialist narrative over Srebrenica: significantly reducing the death toll, strongly implying that it was staged, blaming and denigrating the victims and denying it was a case of genocide. And of course, he has hosted and endorsed a number of denialist articles on his website, which constitutes a clear endorsement of hardline genocide denial. A mere look through his website shows him hosting Srebrenica denialist articles and Serb nationalist propaganda; e.g. “UN officials and the Muslim regime in Sarajevo orchestrated the Srebrenica massacre” by Andy Wilcoxon, (a signatory of the International Committee to Defend Slobodan Milosevic), whose contents he wholeheartedly endorses. Spencer has defended Pamela Geller from the charge that she is a Srebrenica denier, even though she unashamedly holds this position, and suggested in the process that there may be something to her views. I think Spencer is a fundamentally hypocritical and dishonest individual, whose heart is with the deniers but whose head is – sometimes – clever enough to know that it isn’t wise to identify with them outright. He isn’t ultimately interested either in Bosnia or in the truth; all he cares about is scoring points against Muslims, so the question of whether to admit or deny the Srebrenica massacre is for him just a matter of tactics.

    • If you check the ping back on this post you will see my reply to Robert Spencer when he sent me his rebuttal.

      Late, but you are here – that is what counts.

      • Thanks, I just read it. I agree with you and I think you present Spencer very fairly. I do not believe that Spencer endorses violence against Muslims, but he really has done himself no favors by getting involved in revisionism about Serb atrocities. I think it is out of a combination of anti-Muslim prejudice and general ignorance. First, that we Bosniaks are Muslim (though highly secularized!) blinded the ‘counter-jihadis’ into the belief that the conflict somehow fitted with the Islamist v West conflicts in MENA and elsewhere (and 9/11 etc.). And Serbian apologists were only to pleased to encourage them in this quite false belief (Pam Geller was particularly easy prey). In reality, as everyone from the region or who knows the history of the region knows, the Balkan Wars , had little to do with international Islamism, MENA problems and so on.

        Yet the overwhelming evidence of the murderous and corrupt nature of the Milosevic and Karadzic projects, and the horror invoked at the crimes they committed (most notoriously the systematic employment of sexual violence, involving the establishment of ‘rape camps’), has made even extreme ‘counter jihadists’ and EDL types embarrassed to identify openly or be identified with this self-evidently rotten cause, and has meant that, despite themselves, most of them cannot quite bring themselves formally to endorse the Chetnik fascists.

        What annoys me about Spencer’s views on this issue is not so much the fact that he has endorsed denialist views on the Srebrenica masssacre (and other atrocities), but the slippery and blatently dishonest manner in which he has reacted when people such as yourself and Lejla Kurić, have called him out on these views. It reminds me Noam Chomsky’s reaction to the Emma Brookes interview with the Guardian, when he dishonestly claimed that his support for Diana Johnstone was purely over the issue of freedom of speech.

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