HOLOCAUST Grncaroska: The media in Macedonia do not pay attention to the Holocaust

“More than seventy years ago, the propaganda in the media was one of the main tools in the hands of the Holocaust creators in carrying out the genocide against the Jews. With hate speech and spreading of lies on what was happening in the concentration camps, channeled through the media, the Nazis conducted the greatest crime against people in history. That was a major lesson for the future, about the power of the media and their influence on shaping public opinion”, said Tamara Grncaroska, journalist from TV Telma, at the conference “Fight against antisemitism and the experiences of the Holocaust”, on the occasion of the International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Grncaroska emphasized that today the democratic concept of a society is measured through tolerance precisely of diversity, freedom of speech, but also through the role of the media in the fight against all discrimination.

“In Macedonia, there is a legal regulation that defines and punishes hate speech. However, despite this, we are witnesses that some media have crossed the thin line between freedom of speech and the

abuse of that right. Throughout the years there was spreading of nationalism, religious and political intolerance, hatred towards certain groups of citizens, like the LGBT community, the Roma community, which were the most common form of abuse of freedom of speech in the media in the country. There were also cases of antisemitism. Such messages were usually hidden through attacks and depicting a person or group of people in a negative way, but with emphasis on their ethnic affiliation. Recently, such an example is a text published on a Macedonian internet television, exactly two months ago, in regards to the closing of the offices of George Soros’s Open Society Foundation in Turkey, with the headline: Famous Hungarian Jew spends his billions on dividing nations. The news, with similar ethnic labelling, was conveyed also by several internet portals”, stated Grncaroska.

She pointed out that despite the negative examples, that still the mainstream media community and traditional media in Macedonia are fighting hate speech and antisemitism. As an example, says Grncaroska, are the journalist texts in all the relevant media in Macedonia condemning the cases of antisemitism, such as the swastika writings in public places in Prilep exactly one year ago, as well as the case with the swastika drawing in Kumanovo several months ago.

“When speaking of the media, I must underline that often in the public a distinction is not made between the mainstream media, behind which is an editorial policy, entire teams of journalists and editors, which are part of the system of self-regulation in the media, but are also responsible before the Agency for Audio and Audiovisual Media Services for the contents they publish, and the Internet sites with no impressum, blogs, behind which is usually just one person, who is not responsible to anyone for what that person publishes in the public. The social networks are the grey zone through which hate speech, xenophobia and antisemitism are mostly spread nowadays, through fake news and abuse of photos and videos. Research shows that 47% of citizens in the country are informed through the television, and the same percentage draw information from web portals and the social networks”, said Grncaroska.

She pointed out the portal Dudinka as an explicit example of the abuse of social media for constantly spreading hate speech and antisemitism, which in 2016 published untruths about the Holocaust and hatred towards the Jewish community, which, unfortunately, went by without any reaction of the Public Prosecutor’s Office. As to the fight of the media against hate speech and antisemitism,

Grncaroska stressed that the fight is led incidentally, which does not contribute to the prevention of the damages and consequences.

“As an example I will indicate the fact that although today we are marking the Holocaust Remembrance Day, the media in the country these past days have not dedicated part of their programs to remind about the Holocaust, to remind what hate speech and antisemitism can do – to remind of the genocide against people that took place in Europe more than 70 years ago, during which the the entire Jewish community from Macedonia was destroyed, when 7.144 people, from this piece of land, ended in the death camp – Trebinka, just because they were Jews. We remember them on the day of the deportation, March 11, which certainly is not enough if we want to send out the message – this should never be repeated again anywhere”, adds Grncaroska.

Text editing: B. Jordanovska

Camera: Dehran Muratov

Editing: Arian Mehmeti

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