A cautionary tale that virtually no one is heeding.
By Ruth King in Mideast Outpost:
It looks increasingly probable that Kosovo will gain its independence from Serbia, an outcome that should be of serious concern to Israel and its supporters. Ariel Sharon, to his credit, heard the alarm bells during the American bombing of Serbia in 1999, when he warned American Jewish leaders: “If Israel supports the type of action that’s going on in Kosovo, it risks becoming the next victim. Brutal intervention must not be legitimized as a way to try to impose a solution in regional conflicts.” And, it is no coincidence, as journalist Julia Gorin reminds us, that during the bombing of Serbia on behalf of Moslem Albanians in 1999 Saudi Prince Khaled Bin Sultan, commander of the allied Saudi troops during the first Gulf War, called on the US to do the same against Israel on behalf of Palestinians.
The fate of Jews and Serbs, which has intersected in the past, is doing so again. The jihadist effort to expunge Jews from Palestine mirrors the Moslem goal of incorporating Kosovo into a “greater Moslem Albania” while expelling Christian Serbs.
When Serbia became independent of Byzantine rule in the 12th century, its economic, cultural, social and religious institutions were among the most advanced in Europe. Serbia functioned as a bridge between Greco-Byzantine civilization and the developing Western Renaissance. The center of the Serbian Orthodox Church was in Kosovo where churches, monasteries and monastic communities were established. A form of census in 1330, the “Decani Charter,” detailed the list of chartered villages and households, of which only two percent were Albanian.
The Ottomans invaded Serbia in 1389 and consolidated their rule in 1459, propelling major parts of the Balkan peninsula and adjacent southeast Europe into a Koran-dictated Dark Ages. While a significant proportion of Serbian and Croatian nobility converted to Islam to escape the harsh conditions imposed on non-Moslems, most Serbian peasants clung to their Christian faith. Historian G. Richard Jansen reports: “Serbs and Jews became dhimmis subject to the dhimma or protection offered to Christians and Jews in newly Islamized lands in exchange for their lives.
Similarly Bat Ye”or, in Islam and Dhimmitude: Where Civilizations Collide writes: “For the Orthodox Serbs”¦ this same period [the centuries of Moslem rule] is considered one of massacre, pillage, slavery, deportation, and the exile of Christian populations. In their eyes it was a regime which found its justification in the usurpation of their land and denial of their rights….In their wars of emancipation-and, later, of liberation””the Orthodox Serbs found that their bitterest adversaries were their Muslim compatriots attached to their religious privileges and their domination over the humiliated Christians.”
In spite of forced migrations and oppression, like their Jewish counterparts, and unlike other Balkan nations, Serbs maintained their cultural and religious ties to their faith and shrines in Kosovo which, reinforcing the parallel, they called their Jerusalem. It was the Serbs who first mounted, in 1804 and 1813, insurgencies which spread through the region, culminating in the 1912 Balkan War which essentially eliminated the Ottomans from the Balkans.
Early in the twentieth century Serbian Christians were roughly two-thirds of the population of Kosovo, Moslem Albanians one-third. During World War I (triggered by the assassination in Serbia of the Austrian arch-duke) Serbs held off the Austrians for more than a year, before they were overwhelmed. Almost 800,000 Serbs perished, a fourth of the population. With full Serb support, the peace treaties of 1919-1920 established a state with the name “The Kingdom of Slovenians, Croats and Serbs.” The awkward name was shortly changed to Yugoslavia with Kosovo an integral part of Serbia. At roughly the same time, the Balfour Declaration promised the Jews a restored homeland in Palestine which included what became the present day kingdom of Jordan.
From then on Kosovo’s population underwent sharp population shifts. During World War II, when Yugoslav Serbs refused to join a Nazi “community of nations,” an angry Hitler ordered the destruction of Yugoslavia. Following the Yugoslav army”s capitulation in 1941, Serbia was divided by the Nazis between the Italians and the Bulgarians, who encouraged armed gangs of pro-Nazi ethnic Albanians to attack the Serbs and to torch, destroy and desecrate ancient churches and shrines. The Moslem Albanians, who surprised their mentors with their barbarity and zeal for atrocities, were rewarded when parts of Kosovo, Montenegro and Macedonia were annexed to “Greater Albania.”
In 1943 the Nazis formed the 21st SS “Skanderbeg” division of Moslem Albanian volunteers to perform an “ethnic cleansing” (of Jews and Serbs) in Yugoslavia. Tens of thousands of Serbs were sent to a Croatian death camp and as noted by Raul Hilberg in The Destruction of the European Jews (1961) Skanderbeg played a major role in the Holocaust, rounding up Jews who were subsequently sent to Bergen-Belsen and various death camps. A Kosovar Moslem, Bedri Pejani, was appointed by the Nazis to rule occupied Kosovo. He promptly announced a plan to create a Great Islamic State in the region with the blessings of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin el Husseini. The Grand Mufti, who had led a jihad in Palestine, escaped capture by fleeing to German-occupied Europe where, from Sarajevo he urged the Nazis not to flag in their destruction of the Jews. Needless to say the Serbian Christian population dwindled under this onslaught and the proportion of Albanian Moslems surged. By the end of World War II, Yugoslav deaths totaled more than a million, roughly half of them Serbs.
Although the province was restored to Yugoslavia after the war, the population balance in Kosovo did not shift in favor of Serbia. Tito, aiming for leadership of a wider Balkan alliance, did not allow Serbs who fled from their homes during the war to return. He did not enforce border controls and many thousands of Albanians infiltrated through the porous borders. (Like the Moslems in areas adjacent to Palestine in the interwar years, they were attracted by the superior economic conditions.) Seeking to pacify the restive Moslems, in 1974 Tito offered the province political, cultural, economic and juridical “autonomy,” along with large subsidies for agricultural and other projects, which merely had the effect of prompting a further influx of Moslems from across the border. For example, a new university was established in Pristina, with faculty from the University of Belgrade commuting by air.
All this did not pacify the restive Moslems who as early as 1960 demanded independence for Kosovo. There were intermittent riots which escalated and an emergent Kosovo Liberation Army gave as its stated goal “an ethnic greater Albania” to include portions of Macedonia and Montenegro, parts of southern Serbia and an “ethnically pure” (read Moslem-only) Kosovo.
In 1979 Menachem Begin, hectored by Jimmy Carter whose predilection for the Arab cause is well known, also offered the rioting Arabs of Judea and Samaria “autonomy” with the same disastrous results. As Henry Kissinger has noted, “autonomy” is a euphemism for independence.
Initially, the media reported the situation in Kosovo fairly. For example, in July 1982 The New York Times noted: “Serbs have been harassed by Albanians and have packed up and left the region. The Albanian nationalists have a two-point platform, first to establish what they call an ethnically clean Albanian republic and then to merge with Albania for a greater Albania. Some 57,000 Serbs have left Kosovo in the last decade.” Five years later, in 1987, the Times was still reporting the persecution of Serbs within Kosovo. “Slavic Orthodox churches have been attacked, wells poisoned, crops burned, Slavic boys knifed. Young Albanians have been told to rape Serbian girls”¦. Officials in Belgrade view the ethnic Albanian challenge as imperiling the foundations of the multinational experiment called federal Yugoslavia”¦.Ethnic Albanians already control almost every phase of life in the autonomous province of Kosovo, including the police, judiciary, civil service, schools, and factories.”
Milosevic rose to power with the promise of reversing this intolerable situation, restoring peace and Yugoslav control in Kosovo. But now international perception of the crisis turned against Serbia as Milosevic abolished the “autonomy” of Kosovo in 1989. There were arrests and house searches of Kosovar Albanians. And then the media went into a frenzy of accusations against the Serbs, much as it has against Israel and with similar distortions. The media depicted the armed, violent and jihadist Moslem Albanians as “unarmed civilians” despite the fact they called themselves an army and perpetrated assaults, bombings, murder of civilians and targeted assassinations of Albanians loyal to Serbia. President Clinton outrageously referred to a “holocaust” perpetrated by Serbia and compared the Moslems of Kosovo to the Jews””this, even though the Serbs had behaved well toward the Jews during the real Holocaust and Clinton himself was pressing Israel’s Jews to accept the “peace partnership” of Arafat, a brutal terrorist far worse than Milosevic, admittedly a dictator and a Communist thug.
The right was as vehement as the left in demanding action. In September 1998 such luminaries of the right as John Bolton, Jeane Kirkpatrick, William Kristol and Paul Wolfowitz joined such far leftists as Morton Halperin in a petition to President Clinton demanding that he not only stop “the carnage in Kosovo” but use “massive Western pressure” to obtain “a new political status for Kosovo.”
In March of 1999, the United States drew up a document, the “Rambouillet Agreement” which was, as Madeleine Albright boasted later, an absolute ultimatum to Serbia. It was a demand for Serbia to withdraw from Kosovo in favor of a NATO occupying force, something that no sovereign nation could or should accept. Incredibly, as The New York Times of April 8, 1999 reported, Milosevic accepted the entire package with the exception of NATO occupation of Yugoslavia itself. He wanted the troops to be under UN command. Dan Goure, then Deputy Director of the Center for Security and International Studies and a Pentagon official under the first President Bush said, “Rambouillet was not a negotiation, it was a setup, a lynch party.” All this was in direct contravention of previously stated U.S. policy which declared that no national minority had the right to form a new state on other state territories”¦a policy which still guides the U.S. government in respect to recognizing Taiwan’s independence.
An interesting provision of the so-called “negotiations” demanded that the Serb army and police forces withdraw and a new Kosovar police force be formed to include members of the Kosovo Liberation Party, which was supposed to disarm. Sound familiar?
What happened subsequently is better known. In 1999 in concert with NATO, the Clinton administration commenced a 78 day bombing of Serbia. This action met with almost no objection in the West, hailed not only by liberal politicians and the media but by Margaret Thatcher, The Wall Street Journal and assorted conservative pundits and politicians.
To sum up: the demand for Kosovo’s independence led to KLA terrorism which led to repression and expulsion of Albanians by Serbian military and police, which led to the assault by the United States and NATO. While the brutality of the Milosevic regime was indeed a complicating factor, he is long gone, but the KLA continues its assault on Serbs, on their churches, priests, homes, even on civilians sitting in cafes, this under the nose of the U.S. and UN troops which have now occupied Kosovo for eight years. Never mind that the State Department in 1998 listed the KLA as a terrorist organization, indicating (as Interpol’s assistant director for Criminal Intelligence Ralph Mutschke reminded Congress in December 2000) “that it was financing its operations with money from the international heroin trade and loans from Islamic countries and individuals, among them allegedly Osama bin Laden.”
Media and politicians alike, vastly indignant over Milosevic’s behavior, turn a blind eye. Speaking of Kosovo’s major city Pristina, where 40,000 Serbs lived before the UN took over (and where only 100 live now) Senator Joseph Biden, presidential aspirant and Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, declared proudly that Kosovo was a “victory for Moslem democracy” and “Pristina is one of the rare Moslem cities in the world where the U.S. is not only respected but adored.” (Indeed there is a street named for Madeleine Albright, who played an especially scurvy role in ramping up pressure against the Serbs). Similarly the media takes notice of Kosovo only to berate the Serbs for failing to acquiesce speedily and gracefully to the loss of their “Jerusalem.”
Western leaders are blind to the danger to themselves in the principle they are establishing, namely that recent illegal immigrants from another state have the right to declare independence over territory long recognized as part of a different sovereign state whose inhabitants they have ruthlessly forced to flee.
The United States, the EU and the vast majority of UN member states, now pushing strongly to establish Kosovo’s independence from Serbia, are also establishing a terrible precedent in flouting the very international law under which the UN”s occupation of Kosovo rests. UN Security Council Resolution 1244, drafted to end the NATO bombing, specifically reaffirmed that Kosovo belongs to Serbia. Detaching Kosovo from Serbia against Serbia’s will is to violate the UN Charter. Serbian President Vojislav Kostunica reports that “when we mention the need for legality, some of these officials [UN, EU, U.S.] become exasperated, even agitated. They respond with various comments to the effect that we should not be bound by “mere” legality.” (The UN”s ambassador to the “negotiations” with President Kostunica is former Finnish president Martii Ahtisaari, a close associate of George Soros and the openly pro-Albanian Soros-funded International Crisis Group.)
Finally, there is an additional peril for the West here. The “two state solution” which aims to strip Israel of its ancient Jewish heartland, and the demand for Serbia to surrender Kosovo, the locus of its Serbian Orthodox faith, both advance the cause of resurgent Islam and worldwide jihad. To quote Bat Ye”or again: “In 1991, before the conflict erupted, the English edition of [Moslem Bosnian President] Alija Izetbegovic’s Islamic Declaration (1970) specifically stated: “˜There can be neither peace nor coexistence between Arabia, the cradle of Islam and non-Islamic social and political institutions.– And he concluded: “The Islamic movement must, and can, take over power as soon as it is morally and numerically so strong that it can not only destroy the existing non-Islamic power, but also build up a new Islamic one.”
In Congressional testimony, our intelligence agencies have now disclosed that there are 16 terror training camps and arms depots in Kosovo. Julia Gorin warns: “Even conservatives, who support the war on terror and the war in Iraq, have a blind spot and an apathy when it comes to the Balkans, as well as to the fact that a lot of the terrorist attacks in Europe and elsewhere are connected to the Balkans.” Gorin notes wryly that when America needs to burnish its credentials among Moslems, it gloats about intervention on behalf of Moslems in Bosnia and Kosovo — and, of course, demands a solution to the “Palestine” problem. While Israel is not threatened with bombing by US/NATO forces, economic sanctions and threats will be enough to squeeze Israel into surrender.
Statesmen, commentators and pundits who urge solutions and negotiations both in Serbia and “Palestine” brush all historical claims off the table. They simply ignore the geographical facts of the Palestine Mandate where the Hashemites obtained over 82% of the land assigned as the Jewish National Home. They ignore the ancient and religious ties of the Jewish people to Palestine. They ignore the migrations of Arabs to Jewish towns in what Mark Twain called “The Wasteland”. They ignore the strategic danger of a jihadist state in Palestine. With respect to Serbia, the “solution groupies” show the same disregard for historical and religious ties and sovereignty; the same indifference to the enforced migrations and immigrations which created an ethnic Albanian majority in Kosovo; and the same blindness to the dangers of a jihadist “greater Albania” anxious to incorporate Kosovo into a Balkan caliphate.
And so Kosovo may become independent. Welcome to a new Moslem jihadist state, which will no doubt eagerly await the exchange of ambassadors with a jihadist Moslem state in Judea and Samaria.