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Rudy Giuliani’s New Low

‘America’s Mayor,’ who once called for U.S. intervention in Kosovo, is now consulting for Serbian nationalists

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Rudy Giuliani (middle), with Serbian Progressive Party Leader Tomislav Nikolic (left) and Deputy Leader Aleksandar Vucic at a news conference in Belgrade on April 20, 2012. (Marko Djurica/Reuters)

On April 11, 1999, then-New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani joined a group of Holocaust survivors and their descendants at the Upper East Side Reform synagogue Congregation Emanu-El. The event was meant to commemorate the 56th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, but the moral urgency of another impending genocide hung in the air. Just a week prior, NATO forces struck the Yugoslavian capital of Belgrade, commencing an air campaign that would last for 78 days against the Serb-led regime of Slobodan Milosevic.

NATO’s Operation Allied Force was undertaken to halt the Serbian ethnic cleansing and slaughter of Muslims in the province of Kosovo. American Jewish organizations, cognizant of the world’s inaction in response to the extermination of European Jewry, were at the forefront, demanding an end to the Milosevic regime’s atrocities. Giuliani, widely popular among his city’s Jews, shared their concern. “The Holocaust was not, unfortunately, an isolated incident,” he told the crowd of about 3,000. “Prejudice, hatred, letting perverse emotions overcome decency and law—we’re seeing it today in Europe.”

At a news conference following the event, Giuliani went further, criticizing President Clinton for not having a “game plan,” which would possibly include the use of ground troops. Giuliani was a rare Republican voice for intervention: Most of the congressional GOP opposed any U.S. military involvement in Kosovo, never mind the use of ground force. Just weeks earlier, three U.S. soldiers, part of a NATO peacekeeping mission, had been captured by the Serbian military (they were later freed after the Rev. Jesse Jackson negotiated their release). Presaging the uber-hawkish role he would later assume in national politics following the terrorist attacks that devastated his city on Sept. 11, 2001, Giuliani said that the United States has to “play a role to try to prevent atrocities.”

Fast-forward 13 years, nearly to the day, and there was Rudy Giuliani last month in Belgrade, the city whose submission he called for from a New York City synagogue. Except this time, he was campaigning for some of the country’s most prominent nationalists, people once allied with Slobodan Milosevic who have lauded Serbian war criminals.

On April 20, Giuliani traipsed around Belgrade with Aleksandar Vucic and Tomislav Nikolic, the mayoral and presidential candidates, respectively, of the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS). The SNS had invited the former mayor’s consulting firm, Giuliani Partners, to Serbia in anticipation of local and national elections on May 6. “I’m here because I’ve been asked to give them advice,” Giuliani said, according to the Wall Street Journal. “I’m not endorsing anyone.” Asked on a Serbian television program how much he was being paid to appear with Vucic, Giuliani absurdly replied, “My company gets paid for it. I don’t get paid for it.” So controversial and high-profile was Giuliani’s field trip that the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade was forced to issue a statement that the visit should not be perceived as an American endorsement of any candidate or party.

Though Vucic lost the mayoral race, Nikolic eked out an upset victory in a second-round runoff against incumbent President Boris Tadic, a pro-Western, liberal reformer well respected in Washington and Brussels. Many see the election result as a significant step backward in Serbia’s liberalization and integration into Western institutions like the European Union. While Giuliani said in press interviews in Belgrade that he would become an adviser to Vucic if he won, it’s unclear whether his firm will work for incoming President Nikolic. (Giuliani Partners did not respond to an inquiry about whether it will work for the SNS.)

From once righteously calling for American intervention to put a halt to murderous Serb nationalism, to standing alongside a pair of rebranded Serb nationalists, last month’s spectacle in Belgrade represents a new low for “America’s Mayor.” Since 9/11, Giuliani has made a fortune off his reputation as the man who turned around New York City and stood defiant in the face of a catastrophic terrorist attack. But the sausage-making has not always been pretty. Giuliani Partners’ clients have ranged from the legally embattled producer of the addictive painkiller Oxycontin to the government of Qatar. In 2006, Forbes Magazine characterized Giuliani’s business practices as evincing “the sort of carelessness that suggests either poor judgment or inattention.” The same could be said about his discernment of Serbian politics.


Until late 2008, when they co-founded the Progressive Party, both Nikolic (who served as one of five vice prime ministers under Milosevic) and Vucic (who served as Milosevic’s information minister) had been leaders of the Serbian Radical Party, which supported the restoration of “Greater Serbia,” closer ties with Russia, and whose leader, Vojislav Seselj, is currently facing prosecution for war crimes at The Hague. Though the Progressive Party has tried to refashion itself as Western-oriented and seeks membership in the European Union, its platform states that it “will not accept any attempt to disintegrate parts of Serbia’s territory and will protect both the state and its national interests in every inch of the territory in an uncompromising way.” In other words, it will never recognize the independence of Kosovo. It wasn’t long ago that Nikolic said his preference would be to see Serbia become a province of Russia rather than a member of the E.U. When Radovan Karadzic, currently facing war crimes and genocide charges at The Hague, was arrested in 2008, Vucic praised the former Bosnian Serb leader as a “Serbian hero,” adding “there will a strong backlash.” Indeed there was, thanks to a rally organized by the Radicals, at which Nikolic pledged that his party would do “all in its power” to bring down Tadic.

The visit of a prominent American political figure is bound to generate attention in a small country like Serbia, particularly when that politician advocated the bombing of said small country just over a decade earlier. Dragan Djilas, the incumbent mayor of Belgrade and a member of the erstwhile-ruling Democratic Party, said that “Rudolph Giuliani should not speak about Belgrade’s future as a man who supported the bombing of Serbia,” tartly adding that, “I wish him a pleasant stay in Belgrade and a safe trip out of Belgrade.” A cartoon in a Serbian newspaper showed Vucic and Nikolic dressed as women, a riff on Giuliani’s tendency to perform in drag for the amusement of the City Hall press corps. (Giuliani’s support for gay rights is of some relevance in Serbia, given the perennial controversy over the staging of gay pride parades in Belgrade.) “Did I put the second mortgage on my apartment for this?” Nikolic asks incredulously in the cartoon. The cartoonist also mocked Giuliani’s lame denial that he was profiting from the visit; the former mayor is shown holding his hands up asking, “It wasn’t me who got the money but my company, what I got to do with my company?”

political cartoon with Giuliani, Vukic, and Nikolic

(Marko Somborac for Blic)

To be sure, it’s not easy to find, even in progressive, pro-European circles, many Serbians who think that the NATO bombardment of their country was just. But there are significant differences in the way the various political factions deal with the past. For instance, though Djilas, the incumbent mayor, criticized Giuliani over his support for the NATO bombing, his Democratic Party is the most pro-Western of the major Serbian political parties. His chiding Giuliani should therefore be seen more as an easy political shot against his opponent, not as an assertion of Serbian territorial hegemony or anti-American sentiment (Djilas, for instance, has been happy to welcome Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, American political figures who were even more prominent in their support for the NATO bombing than Giuliani). While no major Serbian political party, at the present juncture, can realistically announce its recognition of Kosovo’s independence, the Democratic Party is less revanchist than the Progressives, as Tadic proved by his willingness to negotiate with the country’s leaders. Given this political state of affairs, it’s ironic that Giuliani would side with those more nationalistic elements that have a long history of hostility to the E.U., NATO, and the United States—not to mention a chummy relationship with Moscow.

Asked on Serbian television about the Kosovo war, Giuliani said Serbians must “forget about it and move on to the future.” But it’s unclear if Serbia’s new leadership is willing to take his advice and let go of the past. While outgoing President Tadic had presided over the country’s successful bid for E.U. candidate status and dutifully handed over wanted war criminals like Radovan Karadžić and Ratko Mladić to The Hague, incoming president Nikolic protested the former’s 2008 arrest and, in a recent interview, implied that his silence on the latter’s was due solely to political exigencies. “We are a pro-European party, and Mladić’s extradition was one of the conditions in the E.U. accession process,” he said last year. “If we were to stand against the E.U., we would not be able to win elections in Serbia. That is why we did not wish to protest.” Such blanket avowals of political cynicism are rare in U.S. politics. Perhaps America’s Mayor has something to learn from his Serbian students.


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jimbob21 says:

Study the warped ideology and sick crimes of Naser Oric and Alija Izetbegovic prior to posting such 3rd Reich inspired Serbophobic drivel.  

Rudy is on the right side, even though US policy is not. 

    traviszon says:

    Was Omarska Prison Camp, the murders at Srebrenica and and the destruction of the Sarajevo Library also on the right side?

      jimbob21 says:

      Fraud and fraud.  The murders at Srebrenica were done by the NATO/US side–Orec’s sadistic Muslim troops, who routinely slaughtered and decapitated Serbian peasants and children.

        amerikanka says:

        I also recommend Diana Johnstone’s book, “Fool’s Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO, and Western Delusions”  – which is the most informative book I’ve read about the Yugoslav wars and the 1999 NATO bombing of Serbia. 

        Aside from the tacit approval of Izetbegovic, who left the Srebrenica area undefended and lured Serbian forces into a fraud, Franjo Tudjman in Croatia gave the modern-day Ustaša movement credibility that remains in parts of that independent nation today; Srebrenica was a convenient distraction for Western media while Croatia engaged in Operation Storm, ethnically cleansing the Krajina region of 200,000 ethnic Serbs. Serbia’s economy and people have suffered from having pariah status for 20 years, while Croatia looks to join the EU next year. 

        Ante Gotovina is considered a hero in Croatia, and is currently appealing his 2011 ICTY conviction with enormous support from the Herzegovina Croats. He has an image as a freedom fighter, liberating Croatian land, and within the past week it was announced that he will be portrayed by Goran Višnjić in a film of his life. 

          jimbob21 says:

          I’m fairly familiar and have read excerpts.  She is on the mark.  I’ve only been studying the issue deeply since 2006 or so, but having done my study and read the primary source evidence I’m inclined to deem the Serbs innocent of all charges sans very strong evidence to the contrary.

          Eg. I deem the word of a Serb (a victim of naziism) to be far more credible than that of a nazi or white-washer of Islamic naziism.

          In much the same way I deem the words of a Jewish patriot far more credible to the white-washer of Islamic naziism too.

          Obviously, the only logical position is to oppose Hajj Amin Al Husseini’s genocidal movement regardless of when or where it is, be it WWII Yugoslavia, or  1948 Palestine (when his same German and Bosnian nazi friends made jihad to help kill off the Jews in the cradle).

          bear in mind the actual figures for the ethnic cleansing of Krajina: 235,000 from the UN Protected Zone – now forcibly incorporated into Croatia (figure from Larry Hollingsworth, UNHCR), and 120,000 from the adjacent Bosnian Krajina (figure recorded at the time by the Red Cross). 335,000 in total. All Serbs. All cleansed in early August 1995. Most never returned.

          amerikanka says:

          Yes, it’s absolutely shameful. Even out on some of the lesser-known Dalmatian islands where Serbs once spent summer holidays, there are now burned out shells of cottages with Ustaša graffiti spray-painted. As a Jenki who began traveling to Yugoslavia in the mid-80s, it’s very sad. Even sadder to me is the constant vilification of Serbs and Serbia that remains to this day. 

          It’s hardly surprising that some Serb holiday cottages were burnt out in reprisals by Croats as many of these holiday homes were owned by once Yugoslav, now Serb, generals in the JNA, as you had to be a high ranking communist to own one. The difference between the Croats burning houses and the Serbs burning houses, was that the Croats burnt empty houses, the Serbs did not in many, many cases.

          There are an estimated 20,000 Serbs and 80,000 Croats with Serbian background who lived in Croatia’s capital Zagreb during the war, and continue to live there today. No burnt houses, no summary executions, no rapes. That should be enough evidence that the majority of the Croatians accept Serbs, but what a lovely world it would be if the Serbs accepted non-Serbs.

          Operation Storm RE-CAPTURED the third of Croatia that the Serbs had murderously carved out in 1991, four years earlier. 200,000 Serbs fled a Croatian counter-offensive in 1995 primarily for three reasons. Firstly, their own leadership in Knin ordered them to retreat to serb-held Bosnian territory days before the operation had even begun (this is documented fact, as presented in the Hague). Secondly, many of the Serbian populace had fear of reprisals as they remembered the horrors they or their soldiers did to the non-Serb population in 1991-1994 with regards to murder, ethnic cleansing, rape and pillaging of non-serb towns. This clear evidence of ethnic cleansing was shown when Serbs drove out all non-serbs, not just Croats, but ethnic Hungarians, Slovaks, Ukrainian, Roma, from Eastern Croatian towns, as the Serbs were fighting for a pure-serb Greater Serbia. Video after video evidence of their leaders at many public meetings in 1990-1991 show this.

      J. P. Maher says:

      “Omarska” and “Srebrenica” are on a par with “Jenin” and ” The Protocols of the Elders of Zion”… “The Jews,”, you know, had a plot to annihilate the gentiles. Errors in English, dozens of them, reveal that Roy Gutman’s “Witness to Genocide” was penned by a hand other than American. Kitschik and Travizson  should check the files; no mention of a “massacre of 7-8k Muslim men and boys in mid-July 1995 at Srebrenica” existed until months after the purported event. The hoax hadn’t yet been concocted even at the end of October 1995, when State Dept “ambassador” Nicholas Burns in official briefings answered questions about “Srebrenica”: “hundreds of Muslim and Croatian [sic] men and  boys, maybe even a thousand, are missing. We don’t know whaat happened.” You’ll find this published by Federal news Service.

Boychic says:

I would suggest that the writer study some postwar WW2 history on the repair of Germany and Italy and their fascist sympathizers elsewhere, before attacking New York’s ex-mayor for his business activity.

jimbob21, the spirit of the 3rd Reich was revived by Serbia in the 90s.

    jimbob21 says:

    Afraid not.  3rd Reich revival might be something like, oh, calling the disciples of hajj amin al husseini (such as Izetbegovic) ‘moderates’, ‘partners in peace’, or ‘tormented victims of those evil Christians’.

Partyforever says:

They bombed that country to pieces. It was handled totally incorrectly. NATO should have saved the Muslims from starvation and then let the groups work things out for themselves through negotiations. All the groups had fighters and war crimes, not only the Serbs. Just like in Iraq, the solution was not to demolish everything ( now the new weak Iraqi government must fight against Al Qaeda, the Taliban and Iranian insurgents ) .  And now the current Serbia remains under Russian influence and if you know anything about their history, you would know that their resistance against Nazi Germany was a deciding factor in delaying Hitler to Moscow. The world owes the Serbs a debt of gratitude for stalling Hitler. But after the war, the Allies betrayed Serbia and allowed Communist leaders to take control of the country and form Yugoslavia, it was a group called the Yugoslav Partisans – and that is where all the trouble started.

As long as we’re going on about genocide, how about the Croatian genocide of the Serbs in WW2 in concert with guess-who? There were even a few Croatian *Waffen-SS* divisions…

If Israel had been in the same country with Germany and they had both been dominated by a foreign power, which then disappeared…I wonder what might have gone down…

    RonL says:

     There were also the Albanians in the SS Skanderbeg, many of whom were recruited by Haj Amin Al-Husseini. Former Bosnian President Alija Izetbegović was a member of the SS Handschar division.

    “…As long as we’re talking about…” WWII, let’s not ignore the Serbian occupation of Croatia prior to WWII. In 1928 Croatia’s leader was assassinated in parliament by a deputy of the Serbian Radical People’s Party. In 1929, the Serbian King proclaimed a dictatorship thus enslaving the Croats (as well as Macedonians, Bosnians, etc…) and imposed a new constitution which banned political
    parties and Serb gendarmes occupied Croatia. In 1930, all the best posts in
    Croatia were occupied by the Serbs. In the Croatian
    ministry of the Interior 113 out of 125
    officials were Serbs, at the Foreign office
    180 out of 219, at the Presidency of
    the council 13 out of 13, at the Ministry of
    Justice 113 out of 136, at the Securities Bank
    196 out of 200, at the Court 30 out of

    This was Serb occupation of Croatia which sowed the seeds of hate for what was to come unfortunately.

RonL says:

We supported the Jihadis in Kosovo, and helped ethnically cleanse Serbs from Kosovo, home of Blackbird Fields. But I guess the liberals at Tablet magazine won’t see the parallel until NATO joins the Muslim Brotherhood in cleaning Jerusalem, or at least the old city, of Jews. And in so far as we were helping the descendants of the SS Skanderbeg division ethnically cleanse the relatives of the Serbs their grandparents killed, the Holocaust analogy is a sick joke.

The Albanians, Bosnians, and Croats had good PR and framed the story. The actual history of people like Bosnian leader Alija Izetbegović , who had been a member of the SS Handschar, is ignored. Similarly, the ethnic cleansing of Serbs by the new Ustasha in Croatia was aided by NATO. 

    jimbob21 says:

    Good post.  Nice to see someone else telling the truth.  We’re a small fraternity.  And unfortunately, whether they were bamboozled or just went along for ‘political reasons’, quite a bit of the Jewish ‘establishment’ sided with the Muslim nazis and stabbed the Serbs in the back. 

       Julia Gorin is a Jewish blogger who has done a far better job of presenting the case for the Serbian people than I ever could – and I’m a Serbian-American myself. 


      Neither James Kirchick nor anybody else should be writing on the topic of Serbia without having made a thorough study of the evidence for the Serbian side that, until very recently, has been thoroughly muzzled in the western media. That evidence is in Julia’s blog.

       The whole American establishment was against the Serbs, but most of the few people defending them happened to be Jews.  Even the Jewish Journal in Los Angeles published letters from Jews originally from Yugoslavia defending the Serbs. 

it not possible to understand the Americans and England .their ethnic cleansing of Serbs.
supporting old nazi supporting Islamic fascists. Not Serbs  who save  American and   allies
life during the war. one  that did not forget   they  friends  was the Germans.
who sent tons of weapons from former East Germany.  to their old allies
Well the UN embargo arms Was supposed to be on

As a New Yorker in the 90s I hated Rudy Giuliani.

As an American in 2012 I love him and trust he’s working in what he sees as good faith.
We’ve grown on each other – he’d be a great VP pic for Romney . 

Dear Tablet:  to the extent this article reflects editorial policy, please stay away from judgments of this kind.  It’s not obvious to me that Rudy G. is on the wrong side of things here.  PLEASE don’t go the way of the Forward, and more recently, the Jewish Week in becoming yet another stupid leftist media outlet.  I really like Tablet! 

KosovoJeSerbia says:

The author needs first to get his facts straight (there has never been ethnic cleansing in Kosovo & Methohija by Serbs – ALL CLEANSING HAS BEEN DONE BY ALBANIANS TO RID K&M OF AS MANY SERBS AS POSSIBLE). This is why the Albanians are destroying as much evidence as possible that Serbs even inhabited the area. Secondly, defending Serbian sovereignty is not only the duty of all Serbian Presidential candidates, it is their obligation  in the constitution and therefore means that they must defend all Serbian soil, which K&M is a part of as per the only governing document agreed to by all world bodies – UB Resolution 1244 – which expressly says that K&M continues to be part of Serbia. Before putting pen to paper, get your facts straight.

When will American Jewish Republicans wake up to these shenanigans and say NO to DIRTY BLOOD money?  Let me tell you when, never.

     There’s no dirty blood money in doing business with Serbia or its conservative politicians.

    The dirty blood money is that of the Muslim world.

I think we’ve figured out the REAL reason why James Kirchick hates the Serbs.

Read this and scroll down to the end…

Well,well,I guess that Yugoslav breakup was very complex when even some fine Jewish scholars at your journal still can’t figure it out. The truth is staring at you .Turn off the i-pad and read before you write yesterday’s lies and distortions.

Oh for the LOVE of GOD. The Tablet should be above this kind of drivel.

Whilst the article brings out some interesting points, it is the comments by readers that is truly enlightening. Amazingly, in this day and age, with so much evidence available, Serbs and pro-serb sympathisers still deny the massacres, ethnic cleansing, rape camps, torture camps, forget the bombing of Sarajevo, Vukovar and Dubrovnik, and so many more horrendous acts of violence. At least the German people, after the end of WWII, cowered in shame for the next 60 years after admitting to themselves the horrors carried out by their own soldiers. The Serbs should learn from this example.


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Rudy Giuliani’s New Low

‘America’s Mayor,’ who once called for U.S. intervention in Kosovo, is now consulting for Serbian nationalists

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