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Attack on Jews for NATO bombing reflects growing sentiment in Balkans

ATHENS, June 22 (JTA) — Jews were responsible for the NATO shelling of Yugoslavia, according to a statement circulated among theology students in the northern Greek city of Salonika. The accusation — which is periodically surfacing in the Balkans, making reference to the Jewish background of leading figures in the Clinton administration — has prompted the concern of Yugoslav Jews, who fear they may become the target of a backlash. At the University of Salonika, the accusation was attributed to the school’s Socialist Student Movement — which is a part of the governing Socialist Party’s nationwide youth organization. It contained some slurs that have been made against Jews for centuries, including the charge that “Jewish Zionists are controlling world developments through the Masonic lodges and associations they have created around the world.” It also stated that U.S. Jews — whom it charged with creating the Monica Lewinsky scandal — used that scandal to blackmail President Clinton into taking action against Yugoslavia. The accusations, which surfaced earlier this month, drew swift condemnation from the Central Jewish Board of Greece, an umbrella organization representing all Greek Jews. On June 3, the board sent a letter of protest to the secretary-general of the ruling Socialist Party, Kostas Skandalidis, charging that the accusations contained “not only blunt lies against the Jews, but also slander and libel” and demanding that it be retracted. When the incident at the university was made public, Socialist officials repeatedly avoided journalists’ questions, their staffers stating that they were either “in conference or unavailable” for comment. But this week, the national Socialist Youth Movement issued a statement that the accusations were the work of a “single individual who acted wrongly and unacceptably.”

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