Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Thompson Letters

Marko Perković Thompson's reservation on a spot in the news agenda in advance of his Split concert next week has only been made firmer by Efraim Zuroff, the Jerusalem director of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, who intervened in the scandal again with an open letter to the singer published in last week's edition of Globus.

In the letter (English translation), Zuroff refers to the numerous responses responses he has received from Thompson's supporters, 'reasonably intelligent people who are convinced that you are neither a fascist nor an anti-Semite' and who 'claim that your sole motivation is pure and noble Croatian patriotism and love of family and the Catholic Church.' He calls on Thompson yet again to clarify his position regarding the Independent State of Croatia (NDH):

'It is precisely because your patriotic credentials are absolutely impeccable that you must be among those who clearly and unequivocally reject the legacy of the NDH and the Ustashe. This will send a clear message to Croatians of all ages that one is not betraying his or her country by condemning the atrocities committed by the NDH and that one can be the most noble patriot by building a homeland which will be a model democracy which accepts minorities and fosters tolerance among different ethnic groups.'

Maybe Zuroff's next letter will be going out to Jadranka Kolarević, the member of HRT's programming council who vigorously defended the broadcaster's decision to show the concert (one of Zuroff's causes for complaint in his original statement on the matter) at the last council meeting (to the discomfort of the council president Zdenko Ljevak):

'Zuroff is forgetting at the same time that his country's army kills Palestinians on their own land almost every day, devastates Lebanon [...] Why did he not protest when the Četniks entered Vukovar? [...] Zuroff is forgetting that the creator of the idea of camps in the NDH was Eugen Dido Kvaternik, a Jew on his mother's side, that the wife of the Poglavnik [Leader] was of Jewish origin, that of 42 NDH generals 8 of them were Jews, that the NDH's artillery commander was a Jew, that Hitler's main investigator for the Near East was a Jew, that in 1945 of the 6 officers at the talks in Bleiburg only three had pure Croatian surnames, while it has been proved for one of the other three that he was a pure Jew.'

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Friday, July 06, 2007

Thompson International

Two weeks after Marko Perković's stadium concert, the promised article has appeared in The New York Times (mirrored at the International Herald Tribune) - where the real targets don't seem to be Thompason's music itself so much as the 'insensitivity to Holocaust issues' that could lead Croatia's education minister Dragan Primorac to tell the NYT's reporter that 'You can't see any antisemitism here' and that only four to five people had been giving Ustaša salutes.

Just as shocking, from the NYT's point of view, is the Croatian state broadcaster HTV's decision to endorse Thompson by broadcasting the concert on Sunday night (which did at least spare Croatian viewers from the Concert for Diana) without any sort of editorial comment. (Of the sort, for instance, that always surrounds talk-show clips of Serbian pop/folk music so as to make it clear that the channel isn't actually expecting viewers to enjoy it.)

Večernji list, meanwhile, is standing by Thompson - as well it might, being among the media sponsors of his current tour. Thompson's response to the criticisms from the NYT and the Simon Wiesenthal Centre:

'I've had enough of these unjustified attacks. I'm a musician, not a politician. At my concerts I sing about love, God and the homeland, only about that and nothing else. I and the members and my band didn't see anyone among the 60,000-plus people at Maksimir [stadium] with Ustaša iconography. [...] All well-intentioned people could read the message we sent with this concert and the songs we sang that night, and that is that Croats above all love their country and respect genuine moral values. [...] I can-t stand my concert being called a fascist rally, because whole families come to it. That means that my seven-month-old daughter Diva Marija, who was at the concert, is a fascist, according to the statements of those who are against my concerts. That's really too much. Why has nobody come to the defence of those wonderful people, the entire families who came to my concert?'

The saga continues on the summer coastal concert circuit, including a date in Split at the end of this month; the city's Poljud stadium will host the climax of a forthcoming leg of the tour.

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