Dear Mr. Matthew Perry, Eric and Kim Tannenbaum, Sarah Timberman and Carl Beverly,
As Bosnian American organizations with thousands of active members, we are very disturbed and disappointed by a recent episode of your show “The Odd Couple” where one of the characters, Felix Unger (Thomas Lennon), brings up a reference to Srebrenica in an offensive fashion. Mr. Lennon says “So, Emily, I thought we could try that new Serbian restaurant, a Taste of Srebrenica.”
As most of us know, Srebrenica is a Bosnian city where mass genocide and atrocious war crimes were committed in 1995 by Serbian fascists on Bosnian men, women and children. The Srebrenica massacre was just one of many genocidal events that were committed by Serbs on Bosnians during a bloody war that occurred from 1992 – 1995, including the concentration camps, massacre of civilians and systematic mass rapes as well as other horrific crimes against humanity.
For Bosnians, Srebrenica is a painful symbol of suffering and genocide, analogous to what Auschwitz represents to Jewish people. Saying “Let’s go visit that new Serbian restaurant, The taste of Srebrenica” is analogous to saying something as horrendous as “Let’s go visit that new German restaurant, The taste of Auschwitz”.
Post-war Bosnia in the late 90’s faced many political, financial and social issues, but Bosnian people’s will to rebuild and revive was stronger than the darkness they faced in the early 90’s.
We resonate the thoughts and feelings of Bosnian-American people and we truly hope that Mr. Perry and fellow producers unknowingly included the joke into the script, and that such distasteful jokes will not be included in the future episodes of the show “The Odd Couple”.
We would strongly encourage Mr. Perry and the other producers to show solidarity with the Bosnian people and question the intentions and cultural understanding of the person responsible for the joke, whether it be an assistant script writer or another staff member of the show.
We welcome any response or comments from the producers of the show.
Thank you for taking the time to read our letter.
President of the Congress of North American Bosniaks
Director of the Institute for Research of Genocide Canada