Noreen Herzfeld on “The Balkanization of the Media”

noreen-herzfeldTo those who are familiar with the wars in the Balkans, much of Donald Trump’s rhetoric sounds eerily familiar.  Trump’s promise to his base that “You will never be ignored again” brings to mind Slobodan Milošević’s promise to the Serbs on the field of Kosovo Polje: “You will never be beaten again.”  Milošević, like Trump, was an old hand at presenting “alternative facts.” Reporter Peter Maas writes, “Milošević existed in a different dimension, a twilight zone of lies, and I was mucking about in the dimension of facts.”

Sound familiar?  How are these leaders able to bring so many others into their twilight zone?  What makes neighbor turn against neighbor? Continue reading

Noreen Herzfeld on “Apocalypse, But Not Now”

noreen-herzfeldThe Syrian town of Dabiq is neither populous (having fewer than 3500 inhabitants) nor strategically located.  On October 16, after a short battle, it fell to Syrian rebel forces.

A short battle for a small town should hardly have been noticed.  But Dabiq matters, for it represents the Islamic State’s version of Armageddon.  A hadith, or saying of the prophet Muhammad to his companion Abu Hurayrah, describes a future apocalyptic battle between Muslims and an infidel coalition led by Rome to take place on a plain outside the town.  According to the prophecy, one third of the Muslim forces will flee and another third be killed, but the remaining third is destined to prevail and go on to conquer Constantinople (called Rome, for at that time it was the seat of the Roman empire, thus representing the West and Christendom).  Jesus will then return to earth to lead the Muslims in the final battle with Satan that will usher in a new era of God’s rule.  Continue reading