This Year in Yugoslavia, Next Year in JerusalemJun 24th, 2010 | By Melech ben Ya'aqov | Category: Your Jerusalem Archives
by Melech ben Ya’aqov
This article is reprinted from the May, 1999 edition of Your Jerusalem, and caused a bit of controversy at the time, for the obvious reason that it went square in the face of the way in which the standard media were reporting on the issue of Kosovo. The staff of Your Jerusalem was subsequently invited to the Yugoslavian embassy in Tel Aviv, where they met with the Yugoslavian ambassador who expressed his gratitude for the article.
There is a well-known saying that “nothing is stam (coincidental) in this world.” When you meet somebody on the street, it may not be random — but for an important reason which you may or may not understand at the time. If we only had the insight, we could analyze even the smallest events, understanding their deeper meanings and their relevance to out lives. The question thus arises, “What relevance does the war in Kosovo / Yugoslavia have to us, the Nation of Israel?” The answer may be that Yugoslavia is, in many ways, a test case for Israel. At the very least, the similarities between the situation there and our situation here in Israel are uncanny.
Before exploring this issue in greater depth, it is important to present what so many of us lack: a brief understanding of the demographics and history of Yugoslavia, as well as an overview of the current situation there.
DEMOGRAPHICS / HISTORY OF THE REGION
The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia sits on the west-central coast of the Balkan Peninsula. It is about 290 miles in length and about 250 miles in width at its largest point, covering a total area of 39,449 sq. mi., approximately 4 times larger than the state of Israel. It’s population (1993 estimated) stands at 10.5 million people, or approximately double that of Israel.
Yugoslavia currently consists of two states: Serbia (capital: Belgrade) and Montenegro (capital: Podgorica, formerly Titograd). Belgrade also serves as the capital of the entire Republic of Yugoslavia. Yugoslavia is bordered to the south by Albania and the former Yugoslavian state of Macedonia, to the east by Bulgaria and Romania, to the north by Hungary, and to the west by the former Yugoslavian states of Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina (see map).
The official language of Yugoslavia is Serbo-Croatian, the common language of the South Slavs, and its indigenous religion is Eastern Orthodox Christianity. Yugoslavia has a number of minority groups, the largest of which is the Albanian Muslims, estimated at close to 2 million people, or about one-sixth of the population. These “ethnic Albanians” (as they are commonly called in the media) crossed the border from the less prosperous Albania over the past century, setting up residence primarily in Serbia’s southwestern province of Kosovo (see map), where now they make up over 80% of the population. The Albanian Muslims, like the native Serbs and Montenegrans, are of South Slav descent, but their ancestors converted to Islam under the Turks after the 14th century. They too speak Serbo-Croatian, and with the exception of their religious identification, are not easily distinguishable from Serbs and Montenegrans. Other minority groups in Yugoslavia are the Muslims (of non-Albanian descent) and the Magyars (Hungarians), who live mostly in the northern regions. The majority Serbs currently constitute 57% of the population, but their numbers are dwindling due to a lower birth rate and emigration.
Dealing with minority groups is nothing new to Yugoslavia; indeed, from its very inception in 1921 (it was not named Yugoslavia until 1929), Yugoslavia has always been a patchwork state, artificially bringing together at times as many as eight major ethnic groups. However, Serbs have always formed the majority ruling class of the nation.
The current republic of Yugoslavia, in existence since April, 1992, is the third state to bear the name Yugoslavia. The first, known as the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, was declared in 1929 and lasted until 1941, when it was invaded by the Axis powers. Following WWII, the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia fell under the communist rule of Josip Broz Tito, who helped liberate the country from the Germans in 1944 – 1945. This second state of Yugoslavia, constituted in 1946, comprised essentially the same territory as its predecessor, and was divided into six republics: Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, and Slovenia. (The last four are now recognized as independent states following conflicts with the central government of Belgrade in the early 1990’s.) In addition, the regions of Kosovo in the south and Vojvodina in the north were granted autonomous status due to the high percentage of Albanians and Magyars, respectively, in those areas.
On June 25, 1991, Slovenia and Croatia declared secession from the Yugoslav federation. Macedonia followed suit on December 19, and, in February to March 1992, Bosnian Croats and Muslims also voted to secede. As civil war raged, Serbia and Montenegro created a new federation, adopting its constitution on April 27, 1992. Thus was formed the third and current Yugoslavia, which is roughly half the land area and population of its immediate predecessor, and thus is laid the foundation for the current conflict.
OVERVIEW OF THE CURRENT CONFLICT
The current conflict centers around the region of Yugoslavia known as Kosovo. Kosovo is situated in the southwest corner of Yugoslavia, and has a population of about 2 million people, 80% of which are Muslims of Albanian descent.
The region has known ethnic tension for over 600 years, first between Serbs and Turks, and then, in this century, between Serbs and Albanians. Albanians have been steadily crossing the border and settling in Kosovo over the past century to escape the economic hardship of their native Albania.
The Kosovo Albanian separatist movement has lurked in the background since after WWII, erupting at various times. In 1968, and again in 1975, riots by separatists lead to violence in Kosovo. In September, 1991, separatists declared Kosovo to be an independent republic. At that time, however, the Serbian government of Yugoslavia was occupied with war first in Croatia and then in Bosnia, and so reacted little to this copycat declaration in Kosovo. In 1996, however, Albanian separatists once again turned violent, organizing attacks on Serbian police officers of the Interior Ministry, known as the MUP. These attacks escalated the following year with the emergence of the separatist Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). In 1998, clashes between the KLA and the MUP increased sharply, as the KLA took control of almost one-third of Kosovo, drawing the Serbian regular army into the fighting.
As the conflict escalated, foreign interest in the region increased. In April, 1998, all members of the “Contact Group” for the former Yugoslavia (the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Italy) imposed sanctions on Serbia over what they called “the worsening situation in Kosovo.” Over the following months, while negotiations between the Contact Group, the Serbian government and the Kosovar Albanian separatists took place, the Serbian army managed to make significant headway in dismantling the KLA. In October, 1998, with the threat of NATO bombings looming in the background, Yugoslavian President Slobodan Milosevic acceded to Western demands to allow the stationing of an international presence on Yugoslavian soil to observe the recently arranged cease-fire. In December, 1998, new fighting broke out between the Serbian government and the KLA. NATO, sighting alleged Serb atrocities against Kosovar Albanians, renewed threats of air strikes unless both sides would return to the bargaining table.
This led to talks in Rambouillet, France, which began on 6 February 1999, but which quickly fell apart when the Serbs refused to allow NATO ground forces to be stationed on Yugoslavian soil in Kosovo. Talks resumed in Paris on 15 March, but the Serbs once again refused the terms of the NATO plan. At this point, NATO announced that it would begin bombing raids on Yugoslavia with the stated goal of preventing Serbian forces from committing atrocities against Kosovar civilians. The bombing campaign began on 24 March.
THE YUGOSLAVIAN SIDE
The Yugoslavian (Serbian) side of the conflict is, needless to say, quite different from that of NATO. The Serbs are a proud people (as can easily be discerned from a visit to any one of their numerous websites) with a long-time connection to their land, including Kosovo. They see Kosovo as historically part of Serbia, and see the separatist Albanians as having no legitimate right to an independent state, just as Mexicans in California would have no right to an independent state in Southern California. The Serbs see NATO as the clear aggressor in this conflict, and accuse NATO of selectively choosing battles in order to promote its own foreign policy interests, indiscriminately destroying people’s lives in the process. The Serbs point to over 100 other separatist movements currently raging around the world and ask the question, “Why has NATO selectively chosen to get involved in the situation in Yugoslavia?”
A recent interview by Arnaud de Borchgrave of UPI with Serbian President Slobodon Milosevic is most revealing of the Serbian side. Says Milosevic:
“[America] said let’s bomb Yugoslavia and then figure out what to do next. Some said Milosevic would give up Kosovo after a few days of aggression from the air. To set out to destroy a country for a pretext no one can buy is simply unbelievable. I don’t expect to get anything out of this because I did not start it. You may recall there were no [Albanian] refugees [from Kosovo] before March 24 when the NATO aggression started. But the Clinton administration did expect to get something out of this terrible decision.
“I understand you [NATO] had two general goals. One dealing with Europe, the other with the Balkans. First is to prove U.S. leadership in Europe and the second to re-establish U.S. leadership in NATO in the post-Cold-War era. Regretfully, we were targeted as a guinea pig to achieve those goals. Simply because of our weaknesses and of the internal problems we faced.
“But, as you know, you will find in at least 100 countries around the world different ethnic separatist movements. If you decide to support separatist movements, it is very hard to believe any country can survive. There are 4,000 ethnic groups in the world and only 185 members of the United Nations. In Yugoslavia, we have 26 different ethnic groups. Any one of them could cause trouble if agitated from the outside. Which is what happened in Kosovo. In Belgrade, we have 100,000 Yugoslav Albanians. And never a problem with them.
“In Kosovo, Albanian Kosovars were bigger victims of the KLA than the Kosovar Serbs. When we looked at the figures, the number of Albanians killed by them was twice as large as Serbs dead. They simply terrorized Albanians to join their underground.”
In dealing specifically with the issue of Kosovo, Milosevic had this to say:
“To us Kosovo is critically important because it is the heart of [our] country and an integral part of our long history. It is also home to a quarter of a million Serbs whose forbears have lived there for centuries.”
Milosevic goes on to answer allegations of Serb atrocities against Muslim Albanians in Kosovo:
“We are not angels. Nor are we the devils you have made us out to be. Our regular forces are highly disciplined. The para-military irregular forces are a different story. Bad things happened, as they did with both sides during the Vietnam war, or any war for that matter. We have arrested those irregular self-appointed leaders. Some have already been tried and sentenced to 20 years in prison. …”
Milosevic speaks out on the Rambouillet “peace initiative”:
Rambouillet was not a negotiation. It was a Clinton administration diktat. It wasn’t take it or leave it. Just take it or else. We did not expect bombing. It was unbelievable to us that even as an excuse that we didn’t want to sign something that we weren’t even negotiating it would be used to bomb us as the Nazis did in WWII. Rambouillet was a recipe for the independence of Kosovo, which clearly we could not accept. Especially given the fact that we never contemplated depriving Kosovar Albanians of their legitimate rights. The proof is what happened when half a million Serbs were forced out of Croatia. We never retaliated by expelling a single Croat from Serbia. When Serbs were expelled from Bosnia, we protected all our Muslims from retaliation. We never considered Muslims in Yugoslavia were responsible for what happened in Bosnia.”
In conclusion, Milosevic says: “You [NATO] are not willing to sacrifice lives to achieve our surrender. But we are willing to die to defend our rights as an independent sovereign nation. … We all know NATO is the strongest military machine in the world. We simply want them to stop being so busy with our country and worry about their own problems. … We just want to be left alone and free.”
PARALLELS: YUGOSLAVIA / ISRAEL
The situation in Yugoslavia and the situation here in Israel have a remarkable number of points in common.
1. Muslim Separatists
The most obvious parallel between Yugoslavia and Israel is the presence, in each case, of a large minority (Muslim) population concentrated in a particular area (in Yugoslavia, Kosovo; in Israel, Judea and Samaria) which is currently fighting for separation from the central government. In each case, the current Muslim population was barely present a century ago. (One hundred years ago, Israel consisted mainly of nomadic Bedouins, and Jerusalem had a population of a few thousand.) These populations grew as economic opportunity increased in the area. (Muslims flocked to Israel to do business with the growing Jewish settlement, “the yishuv“.) In both cases, the Muslim population increased at much higher rates than the majority population, causing concern over the future of the state. (In the case of Israel, this raised the question, “Is Israel a Jewish state, or a democracy?”) Eventually, the growing Muslim minority demanded independence from the central government, and resorted to both political and violent means to achieve their aims (PLO, Intifada).
2. American Multiethnicity vs. National Homeland
With regards to both Yugoslavia and Israel, America and the West have come out strongly in support of the separatist movements, proclaiming their right to “self-determination”, and portraying the separatists as “freedom fighters”, while depicting the ruling majorities as greedy (for not sharing their land), oppressive (for putting down rebellion), racist (for making distinctions between themselves and the minority), and “anti-peace” (for not accepting the international community’s decision with regards to them).
This is largely because the West has, over the 20th century, developed the model of “Multi-ethnicity” as their model of morality, while utterly rejecting the model of the “National Homeland” (by which a certain group has inalienable rights to a certain land) as obsolete and immoral. Needless to say, this spells bad news for Yugoslavia, as well as Israel, as both foster strong beliefs in their national homelands. The situation in Yugoslavia shows, once again, that the West is willing to use military action to enforce its morality and replicate its philosophy in new regions.
A bit more on this conflict of moralities: Clearly, the roots of the Western philosophy are based in the historical realpolotik of the United States and Europe, as both regions have had to develop a workable system of peaceful co-existence among disparate groups — in the case of the United States, ethnic minorities, and in the case of Europe, nation-states.
But perhaps even more than the realities of the past, this philosophy of Multi-ethnicity is based on the West’s goals for the future: a time when the entire world will be united under a single world government (cf. the U.N., the World Court), a single currency (cf. the Euro, the World Bank), without divisive philosophies (e.g. religions, particularly Judaism which believes in making distinctions between people), and without borders (e.g. the National Homeland). Instead, the world will be a “Global Village” linked by the Internet, video-conferencing, etc., in which conflicts between peoples will be eliminated and replaced with the economic prosperity of the free market system and the secular humanism of the West.
(Perhaps this is what the Book of Daniel refers to, speaking about the final kingdom before God takes over: “And whereas you saw iron mixed with miry clay, they [this kingdom] shall mingle themselves with the seed of man. But they shall not cleave one to another, just as iron does not cleave with clay. And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed, and the kingdom shall not be left to another people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.” [Daniel 2:43-44])
3. Strategy / Techniques
Similar strategies and techniques have been employed in both Yugoslavia and Israel in order to manipulate events and worldwide opinion in favor of U.S. and NATO goals. The following is a brief overview of some of these strategies.
a. Manipulation of the Media: Through manipulation of CNN and other media, NATO has selectively presented the side of the Kosover Albanians while ignoring the side of the Serbs. Though, according to many reports, the KLA has committed atrocities against both Serbs and its fellow Albanians in Kosovo, only the atrocities of the Serbs against the Albanians have been emphasized in the worldwide media. Needless to say, similar misrepresentation occurs daily in the case of Israel, which is always portrayed as the aggressor against the hapless “Palestinians”.
b. Promises of Great Economic Prosperity: Do you remember the Yugo? If you were in the U.S. in the early 1990’s you may remember this Yugoslavian-made automobile which burst onto the American market out of nowhere, and disappeared just as suddenly about 3 years later, which is about how long the car itself lasted before completely falling apart. The introduction of the out-of-place Yugo to the American market was part of an attempt by Western power brokers to make inroads into the Yugoslavian economy, with stated promises of great economic prosperity for Yugoslavia in return. In reality, the goal was to break up Yugoslavia and sell off the pieces. Likewise, the economic plans of the “New Middle East” seem to be a similar attempt to lure Israel into allowing further Western involvement in the region with the promise of riches for all in return. So far, Yugoslavia has seen many bombs, but very little of the promised riches; Israel awaits to see which it will get.
c. Demonization of the Target Nation’s Leader: Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic has been personally demonized worldwide not only as a racist who has committed atrocities against the Albanians in Kosovo, but also as the cause of NATO actions, rather than the recipient of them; he has been told many times by NATO that he, and he alone, is responsible for the destruction of his own country. NATO recently revoked Milosevic’s free passage rights in Europe as well as those of his family; they have also expressed intent to capture him and try him for crimes against humanity, and they have reminded him repeatedly that he is completely isolated from the world community.
Less extreme but similar demonization has occurred against Benyamin Netanyahu, whom the United States has accused of “jeopardizing the peace process”, “not living up to his end of the [Wye] agreement”, etc., while not making similar with regards to Arafat.
d. Forced Acceptance of the West’s Solution: When Milosevic refused to accept the Rambouillet Treaty, which would have compromised Yugoslavian sovereignty to NATO, the bombing campaign ensued.
The Rambouillet accord provided, among other things, broad autonomy for Kosovo, including the establishment of its own parliament, prime minister, supreme court and security forces, and the right to negate laws of the federal republic’s legislature as well as conduct its own foreign policy; the stationing of 28,000 NATO troops in Kosovo with the right to overturn elections, shut down organizations and media, and overrule any decisions made by the Kosovan, Serbian and federal governments; immunity of NATO personnel from all legal process, whether civil, administrative, or criminal, including immunity from any from of arrest, investigation, or detention by the Yugoslavian authorities; free and unrestricted passage throughout all of Yugoslavia for NATO personnel together with their vehicles, vessels, aircraft, and equipment, including associated airspace and territorial waters, “including the right of bivouac, maneuver, billet and utilization of any areas or facilities as required for support, training, and operations, without payment of fees, duties, dues, tolls, or charges occasioned by mere use”; “the free use of all telecommunications services, including broadcast services, needed for the Operation, as determined by NATO including the use of all the electromagnetic spectrum for this purpose, free of cost.” And on and on and on. In short, Rambouillet provided for a partial NATO takeover of Yugoslavia. No sovereign country in its right mind could accept such conditions.
In a similar fashion, the Unites States’ attempts to impose conditions upon Israel (Madrid, Oslo, Wye) knowing full well that Israel would not accept all of them, may precipitate a scenario for more extreme American involvement in the region.
e. Support / Arming of Rebel Forces: According to a July 11, 1998 report by New York Times Balkans bureau chief Chris Hedges, the KLA has been supplied by the U.S. and Germany with sophisticated weaponry, including the latest anti-tank rocket-propelled grenades and anti-aircraft weapons. The KLA is “fed by recruits, money and arms from outside Serbia,” Hedges reports. It has an “inexhaustible supply line. … Rebel soldiers, in full uniform with the red and black patch of the Kosovo Liberation Army, pull thick wads of German Marks from their pockets. There are also signs that the arrival of dozens of former professional soldiers as well as some mercenaries are turning the ragtag band into a valuable military force of several thousand fighters.”
In short, the West has supported the Kosovar separatist movement with an unlimited bank account, as well as international legitimacy — this, despite the fact that according to many sources, the European drug trade was opened to the Kosovo Liberation Army. Says independent journalist Tuvia Pinchasi, “Today NATO is fighting on behalf of one of the largest heroin suppliers of Western Europe.”
In a similar vein, the PLO, once considered a band of terrorist thugs, has received legitimacy as well as hundreds of millions of dollars from the West and other nations such as Japan.
f. Overall Game Plan: In conclusion, the overall NATO game plan seems to be similar for both Yugoslavia and Israel. In short, (1) NATO gets its foot in the door with promises of economic prosperity, (2) foments unrest in the target country by agitating existing unrest, generally among a minority group, (3) comes out in favor of the minority group, causing conflict between the two sides, (4) comes along in the name of humanitarianism and offers a peace plan, (5) uses the target country’s rejection of the peace plan as an excuse for further involvement, and (6) eventually breaks up the country. Once the country has been divided and conquered, then (7) NATO moves in with a reconstruction plan, including a market economy and American-style democratic system, generally installing a puppet regime. (8) The region, now under the Western sphere of influence, becomes a new base from which NATO can replicate itself in the above fashion.
While the situations in Yugoslavia and Israel are not exact duplicates, the similarities are “too close for comfort.” It behooves every Jew to keep a close eye on the Kosovo conflict, not just through the standard media, but through alternative sources such as the Internet.
Do you have any comments about this article, or do you see a grammatical or other print error? Please e-mail us at comments@YourJerusalem.org.
WE AS JEWS OWE THE SERBS
We must acknowledge the kindness done to the Jews by the Serbian nation during WWII through their refusal to hand us over to the Nazi oppressors to be murdered as did the peoples of Albania, Croatia and the surrounding lands.
Madeline Albright, Secretary of State of the United States of America, is spewing undeserved hatred to foment a crisis. The intentions of NATO have little to do with their humanitarian concerns for the residents of Kosovo. NATO propaganda and American media bias focusing on alleged atrocities are distracting world opinion.
THE SERBS DESERVE OUR CONSIDERATION OF
THEIR SIDE OF THE STORY.
A public service message from David Lloyd Perkins