Serbia's Struggle for Survival: Lessons from Israel
By Raphael Israeli
Raphael Israeli was born in Fez, Morocco, and arrived in Israel at the age of 14. A professor of Islamic, Middle Eastern and Chinese history at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, he is the author of 25 books, including Islamikaze: Manifestations of Islamic Martyrology (Frank Cass, London, 2003) and The Spread of Islamikaze Terrorism in Europe: The Third Islamic Invasion (Vallentine Mitchell, London, 2008).

Danish translation: Serbiens kamp for overlevelse: Erfaringer fra Israel
Source: Jihad Watch, March 1, 2009
Published on January 29, 2012

Much comparative assumption has been predicated on the seemingly parallel situations in the two vastly different complexes of Serbia-Kosovo-Albania on the one hand, and Israel-Jordan-Palestinians on the other, thus warranting some elaboration that would put this intriguing matter to rest. This comparison is often resorted to by both sides of the divide, in both cases equally, invoking strikingly resemblant narratives and mirror-image arguments to justify each party’s cause. Furthermore, amazingly similar modes of development have been evolving in each complex, which may help to shed light upon each other and to evince once again the validity of the old adage, plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose.

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 are the independent nation-states of Albania and Jordan, respectively, each harbouring an ethnic-religious-national entity of their own (Palestinians and Albanians, respectively), not necessarily friendly to their neighbours; and maintaining living family, social, cultural, historical, political, economic and linguistic ties with their kin in territories controlled by their neighbours -- the West Bank and Kosovo, which are precisely considered as the historical heartlands of Israel and Serbia. What is more, each of the latter has also been the home of a considerable, and growing, Palestinian and Albanian, respectively, minority in its territory proper – Palestinians in Israel (inadequately dubbed the Israeli Arabs) and Albanians in the Sanjak province of southern Serbia. And exactly as diaspora Palestinians are dispersed also in the rest of the neighbouring 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 neighbours. The Arab-Israeli wars since 1948, and the breakup 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 and to their constant vacillations 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 ensure Israel’s security. And after the Dayton peace settlement on Bosnia which was negotiated (imposed) by the Americans in 1995, the Serbs 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. This tranquility would come at a territorial price all right, but without prejudice to the security or territorial sovereignty of either state. Following Oslo (1993), which envisaged a certain 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. Whereas Albania became the champion of Albanian minorities in the Balkans outside of its sovereign territory, stirred unrest among the Albanians of Serbia (Prishtina from 1968, Macedonia during the civil war of the turn of the millennium), and aided its kin across its borders with other states, Jordan cut itself off the West Bank and contented itself with the special status she 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 was as if Albania had changed its name and were recognized by the world as Tirannia (and its citizens as Tirannians), and its Albanian identity and claim to statehood were taken over by the Albanians of Kosovo, and since the Albanians were seemingly stateless since Albania had vanished, they were considered to be 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 minority, together with its historical, religious and cultural heritage there. But they did nothing to prevent the utter destruction of that heritage and the systematic ethnic cleansing of the Serbs, who, far from retaining their predominant role as part of the majority, were now relegated to the status of a persecuted, frightened and waning minority. In the West Bank, the Oslo Accords submitted 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. So much for entrusting anything Jewish to Palestinian “protection.”

The UN administration was supposed to ensure that before the status of Kosovo was discussed, standards were to be enforced on guaranteeing the level of viability of the Serbs and of their sovereignty. 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. 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

And so, weakness becomes the major strength of both the Albanians and the Palestinians. Serbs were bombed and ousted from their country, which was ceded to the impostors 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 could bomb Israelis indiscriminately, disturb 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 look and sound credible. That exact same scenario was repeated during the Gaza War of 2009, in the aftermath of which Israel is still bombed and shelled, but cannot react forcefully without arousing the wrath of the world that does not suffer the consequences of that aggression.

Retrace the events in Kosovo since the start of the crisis, and you will detect exactly the same stages, tactics and stratagems played out by the Albanians and Palestinians respectively. And the international community, with few exceptions, has aligned itself with the “weak” and the “victim” -- who was also the impostors, the aggressor and the troublemaker. 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 that are inimical to it, which in the long run are bound to precipitate its demise? By catering to Muslim demands and Muslim causes such as the Palestinian and Kosovo issues, the West hopes to appease “moderate” Muslim regimes such as those of Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Algeria, Jordan, Morocco, Kuwait and Egypt, and to 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 majority-Muslim Bosnia as part of the grand scheme of the Muslim “moderate” continuum. But when the Albanians in 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 America 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 turned in a fundamentalist Muslim direction in 2002 and refused thereafter to accommodate the American strategic needs in Iraq. Bosnia, under Alija Izetbegovic, made connections to Iran and Chechnya that were 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 and Metohija, 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 that 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 that say both 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 against the new wave of barbarians who are 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 the Muslim forces were defeated and their advance arrested by Charles Martel in 732. The Spanish reconquista, which took centuries to reclaim that land, was not completed before the 15th Century, at the very same time that the second invasion of the Ottomans, this time from the southeast, attacked the Balkans and made headway to the gates of Vienna. But that invasion too was finally repulsed with the breaking of the siege of Vienna in 1683, and subsequently by the fall of the Ottomans after World War I.

Hence today, the retrieval of the lands once Islamic (Andalusia, Palestine, the Balkans and Kashmir) becomes an urgent, pressing 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 they receive from the West in the Balkans is an Allah-sent bonus that they had never dreamt of. The declaration of Kosovo’s “independence” in early 2008, which was recognized by the US and some of the 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 Hizballah, backed by Iran (which also meddles in Bosnia and Kosovo, and is maintaining a particularly intimate relationship with the President of Croatia), are encouraged by the Muslim successes in the Balkans, and continue to press in Palestine and Kashmir too. Under the threat that 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 panicky West seems to be losing all its bearings and falling into the trap of extortion that Muslims use so skilfully -- thereby precipitating itself swiftly onto the sliding path and over the precipice.