Serbia, Israel, and the Muslim Challenge

By Raphael Israeli
Friday, 22 Jan 2010

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 Numerous comparisons have been made between the seemingly parallel situations concerning Serbia-Kosovo-Albania on the one hand, and Israel-Jordan-Palestinians on the other. Such comparisons are often resorted to by both sides of the divide, invoking strikingly resembling narratives and mirror-image arguments to justify each party’s cause.

It would be useful first to refer to the geo-strategic setting: on the one hand, two independent ethnic-majority states, Israel and Serbia, which are the anchors of the regional controversy in their respective areas, where ethnicity and faith are intertwined: Israeli Jewishness and Serbian Orthodoxy. Both treasure a long history of separate existence and of hard-won, constantly challenged, defended and painfully maintained independence.

Adjacent to them, the persistent existence of independent nation-states of Albania and Jordan, respectively, each harboring an ethnic-religious-national entity of their own (Palestinians and Albanians, respectively), not necessarily friendly to their neighbors; and maintaining living family, social, cultural, historical, political, economic and linguistic ties with their kin in territories of their neighbors – the West Bank and Kosovo, which are precisely considered as the historical heartlands of Israel and Serbia.

What is more, both countries have also been the home to a considerable and growing minority in its territory proper – Palestinians in Israel (inadequately dubbed the Israeli Arabs) and Albanians in southern Serbia. And just as diaspora Palestinians are dispersed in the neighboring and western countries, so does one encounter Albanians in Macedonia, Montenegro, Western Europe and the US.

Settlements and their Erosion

Apart from the perennial challenge of dealing with a restive and mostly hostile minority at home, both Israel and Serbia have also had to tackle their relations with their immediate neighbors. The Arab-Israeli wars since 1948, and the breakup up of Yugoslavia which coincided with the end of the cold war and the collapse of Communism and the Soviet bloc, have contributed to instability on the borders of these two states. Their constant vacillations have been in accordance with the fortunes of those wars, which resulted in the intervention of outside powers to restore stability. In Israel, following the peace process between Israel and Egypt in the 1970’s, the Oslo peace initiative was launched in the 1990’s to seek a settlement with the Palestinians that would also insure Israel’s security. The Serbs, after the Dayton peace settlement on Bosnia which was negotiated (imposed) by the Americans in 1995, thought that their territorial integrity was guaranteed, and attempted to concoct a new formula for keeping together the remnants of the defunct Yugoslavia (Serbia, including Kosovo, and Montenegro).

Both hoped-for settlements were geared to bring permanent tranquility to Israel and Serbia, both admittedly at a territorial price, but without prejudice to the security or territorial sovereignty of either. Following Oslo (1993), which envisaged a degree of Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank as part of a permanent settlement with the Palestinians, Israel and Jordan rushed to normalize relations in a peace treaty (1994). This is where Jordan and Albania differ. Albania became the champion of Albanian minorities in the Balkans outside its sovereign territory and stirred unrest among the Albanians of Serbia (ever since 1968) and Macedonia (during the civil war of the turn of the millennium), and aided its kin across its borders with other states. Jordan, by contrast, cut itself off the West Bank and contented itself with the special status it was accorded by Israel in Jerusalem under the terms of the peace treaty.

For the Palestinians, however, the commonality of their nationality was not affected by that exercise and their aspirations to unite their entire people under one nationhood did not wane. They picked up the role which was abdicated by Jordan, and began to promote it. It is as if Albania had changed its name and were recognized by the world as Tirania (and its citizens as Tiranians), and its Albanian identity and claim to statehood were taken over by the Albanians of Kosovo, who – because seemingly stateless, since Albania had vanished – were entitled to world support, under the sacrosanct rule of self-determination, for independence and statehood.

The absurdity of the situation in Kosovo is that the West has been endorsing its claim to a second Albanian state at the expense of Serbia’s sovereignty, while it is prevailing on the Jewish state to allow a second Palestinian state – in addition to Jordan – at the expense of Israel’s security and sovereignty.

After the bombing of Serbia by NATO in 1999, the international forces and the UN administration in Kosovo were supposed to protect both the territorial integrity of Serbia and the survival of the Serbian population in Kosovo, together with its historical, religious and cultural heritage there. But it did nothing to prevent the utter destruction of that heritage and the systematic ethnic cleansing of the Serbs who were relegated to a persecuted, frightened and waning minority. In the West Bank, the Oslo Accords submitted the places of Jewish heritage to “guaranteed” Palestinian Authority protection, but when the Intifadah broke out in 2000, both the Joseph Tomb in Nablus and the Jewish synagogue in Jericho were burned down by the Palestinians, while the PA forces of public order looked on.

The UN administration was supposed to ensure that before the status of Kosovo was discussed, standards were to be enforced on guaranteeing the security and right of the Serbs . But soon erosion set in, when standards and status were lumped together in one go, as the international administration failed to make one the prerequisite of the other, as required, and then it ended up adopting the status of independent Kosovo without any standards discussed or attained. So much for international guarantees.

That is no more than a replay of the Oslo Accords and then the infamous “Road Map.” In Oslo, the Palestinians undertook first to put an end to terror and violence as a legitimate way to tackle their problems with Israel. But as soon as they were repatriated from their Tunisian exile and handed power and weapons, they reverted to terror. They learned that those who use violence end up gaining; being the weak side of the equation entitles them to blind support from abroad regardless of what they do.

Claims and Disclaimers

In this manner weakness became the major strength of both the Albanians and the Palestinians. Serbs were bombed and ousted from their country, which was ceded to the imposters who invaded it, under the watching eye of the West. Israel was applauded by the West when it gave up territory out of its own volition, in the hope of bringing the Palestinians to terms, but when the latter’s intransigence grew instead, they found that the support of the West for them did not abate. The Palestinians rapidly learned that they can bomb Israelis indiscriminately, pester their lives and terrorize them with impunity, because as soon as something was done to arrest their aggression, they immediately posed as the victims and hurled accusations of “horrors”, “genocide”, “holocaust”, “Nazism”, “war crimes” and the rest against the defenders, who were so demonized as to make any calumny against them appear excusable. That exact same scenario was repeated during the Gaza War of 2009, in the aftermath of which Israel is still shelled, but it cannot react forcefully without arousing the wrath of the world which does not suffer the consequences of that aggression.

Retrace the events in Kosovo since the start of the crisis, and you will detect the very same stages, tactics and stratagems played out by the Albanians and Palestinians respectively, and the international community, with few exceptions, aligning itself with the weak and the victim who was also the imposter and the aggressor. Why would the West do that? Why would the Christian world relinquish its natural and tested allies, who constitute the backbone of its geo-strategic security and shoot itself in the foot by boosting the forces inimical to it, which in the long run are bound to precipitate its demise?

By catering to Muslim demands and Muslim causes, like the Palestinian and Kosovo issues, the West hopes to appease the “moderate” Muslim regimes, like Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Algeria, Jordan, Morocco, Kuwait and Egypt, and perpetuate the flow of oil which has become the lifeline of the industrialized world.

American foreign policy, which was followed by the rest of NATO members, was to attract through alliances and economic development the emerging Muslim nations of Central Asia and the Balkans to the Turkish model and to create a continuum of moderate Islam from the confines of China through Pakistan and Central Asia, to Turkey and the newly constituted entity of Bosnia-Herzegovina. The US wished not only to maintain intact the borders of the former Yugoslav republics, but also to ensure the continuity of the majority-Muslim Bosnia as part of the grand scheme of the Muslim “moderate” continuum. But when the Albanians in FYR Macedonia rebelled to demand a greater share of power, the West prevailed on the small and weak Macedonians to appease the Albanians. Kosovo Albanians then rose to violate the very principle of territorial integrity that America so vehemently defended in Dayton, and allowed them to terrorize the Serbs and force them out of their land, thus appeasing the Muslims once again.

But, as usual, what the Americans had envisaged is not what they achieved after they made all the possible mistakes. Turkey has turned itself fundamentalist Muslim in 2002 and refused thereafter to accommodate the American strategic needs in Iraq. Bosnia, under Alija Izetbegovic, made connections to Iran and Chechnya, not to the liking of the US, and the “Kosovars” – at least that part of the KLA which was ideologically committed to Islamic revolution – do not seem to follow the Western blueprint. The Christian continuum, which used to connect Russian Orthodoxy via central Europe down to Serbia and Greece to the Aegean Sea, has been disrupted as the Muslim wedges – Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia, possibly the Sanjak – have been driven into the heart of Europe. In Bosnia and Hetzegovina itself, reports abound of an intense Wahhabi activity, and of inflammatory fundamentalist rhetoric by Saudi-sponsored Imams, who have rendered the Western dream of moderate Islam in the Balkans into a sad and dangerous joke.

The Futility of “Constructive Ambiguities”

One of Henry Kissinger’s lessons of diplomacy to the world has been his theory of “constructive ambiguities”, namely than when two unbridgeable positions make agreement impossible, one is advised to find the formula which provides that bridge by enabling each of the parties to interpret it to his liking. While that formula may have had some temporary benefits to it, when the day of reckoning came and the formula had to be applied to the real world, it turned out that there was no agreement; the discrepancies burst out in earnest. Security Council Resolutions, which say one thing and its reverse are spectacular “masterpieces” which illustrate the point.

The campaign to Islamize Palestine and Kosovo, which has been undertaken by Muslim interests, supported by a West that is steeped in ambivalent approaches and ambiguous formulae, has come to its crucial defining stage: Will the West rethink its position, reconsider who are its friends and foes, align with the former and stand firmly against the latter, and turn to construct a solid wall of the Western civilized world again the new wave of barbarians which is determined to vanquish it and reduce it to dhimmitude?

Palestine and Kosovo must be seen in the context of the third invasion of Islam into Europe. The first invasion in the 8th century had taken Europe by assault from the southwest, colonized the Iberian Peninsula and attempted to take over Gallic France until it was arrested by Charles Martel in 732. The Spanish reconquista which took centuries to reclaim that land, was not completed before the end of the 15th century, at the very same time that the second invasion of the Ottomans, this time from the south-east, swept through the Balkans and eventually made headway to the gates of Vienna. But that invasion, too, was finally repulsed.

The retrieval of the lands once ruled by Islam (Andalusia, Palestine, the Balkans and Kashmir) is a matter of the highest priority from the Islamic point of view. Attacking India or the European Union by Islam outright is too risky. Therefore attention is centered on the easier targets of Palestine and the Balkans, with Andalusia, Sicily and Kashmir in the second stage. For the rest of Europe a new tactic of soft invasion, by immigration and demographic explosion, has already yielded impressive results: within one generation, 30 million Muslims have taken a foothold in Europe.

The active help the disciples of the Prophet receive from the West in the Balkans is an Allah-sent bonus that they had never dreamt of. The declaration Kosovo’s “independence” in early 2008, which was recognized by the United States and most West Europeans, has been the most dramatic manifestation of this Western capitulation in the face of Islamic aggression in the heart of Europe.

At the same time, the Hamas and Hizbullah, backed by Iran (which also meddles in Bosnia and Kosovo) and encouraged by the Muslim successes in the Balkans, continue to press in Palestine. Their fellow jihadists are active in Kashmir, too.

The threat is for the most part unstated, but clear: if the West does not accommodate Islam by exacting more concessions from India and Israel – as it did in the Balkans – both the Arab states and Pakistan may succumb to the fundamentalists. The West seems to be losing its nerve and all its bearings. It is falling into the trap of Islamist extortion, thereby precipitating itself swiftly onto the sliding path into the precipice.