Kosovo: A Threat to Israel’s Survival
There are many self-styled friends of Israel in the United States who have been enthusiastically supportive of Kosovo’s independence for years. People like Sen. Joe Lieberman, Rep. Elliot Engel, Morton Abramowitz, William Kristol, Douglas Feith and many others appear to be motivated by the hope that favors to a supposedly moderate Muslim group in the Balkans may buy some brownie points for America—and by extension for Israel—in the Islamic world. That delusion was stated brazenly yet eloquently by the late Rep. Tom Lantos during a House hearing on Kosovo last April:
Just a reminder to the predominantly Muslim-led governments in this world that here is yet another example that the United States leads the way for the creation of a predominantly Muslim country in the very heart of Europe. This should be noted by both responsible leaders of Islamic governments, such as Indonesia, and also for jihadists of all color and hue. The United States’ principles are universal, and in this instance, the United States stands foursquare for the creation of an overwhelmingly Muslim country in the very heart of Europe.
Israel is some thousands of miles away from the heady Beltway air (and whatever they are putting in their water inside it), and such inanities cut no ice there. Writing in the Jerusalem Post on February 21 (“Kosovo’s Stark Warning”), Caroline Glick, one of Israel’s most prominent columnists, pleads for Israel to join Russia, China and others in not recognizing Kosovo for the sake of its own existential interests. “The fledgling failed-state of Kosovo is a great boon for the global jihad,” she warns. It has been used as bases for al-Qaida operations, members of the ruling KLA have direct links to al-Qaida, and “the Islamic world as a whole perceived Kosovo’s fight for independence from Serbia as a jihad for Islamic domination of the disputed province”:
For Israel, Kosovo’s US-backed declaration of independence should be a source of alarm great enough to require a rethinking of foreign policy. Unfortunately, rather than understand and implement the lessons of Kosovo, the Olmert-Livni-Barak government is working actively to ensure that they are reenacted in the international community’s treatment of Israel and the Palestinians.
In the meantime the neoconservative-neoliberal disconnect between aiding and abetting Muslim designs in the Balkans and “fighting the Global War on Terror” is growing deeper. The appeasement has never yielded any dividends, but repeated failure only prompts the architects of the policy to redouble their efforts—as Under-Secretary of State Nicholas Burns proved on February 18, a day after the Kosovo declaration. Noting approvingly recognitions of Kosovo by Turkey and Afghanistan and “a very strong and supportive comment by the Organization of the Islamic Conference,” he reminded his audience that “Kosovo is going to be a vastly majority Muslim state, given the fact that 92 to 94 percent of their population is Muslim. And we think it is a very positive step that this Muslim state, Muslim majority state, has been created today.”
If it is intrinsically “a very positive step” for the United States that a “vastly Muslim state” is created inside a non-Muslim state, in an area ethnically cleansed of non-Muslims, it stands to reason that Washington will be equally supportive of any putative Islamistan from western Macedonia to southern Bulgaria to the northern Caucasus, and one day perhaps even Palestine. It is especially worthy of note that the Organization of the Islamic Conference statement, to which Mr. Burns referred so approvingly, stated that “the Islamic Umma wishes [our brothers and sisters in Kosovo] success in their new battle . . . There is no doubt that the independence of Kosovo will be an asset to the Muslim world and further enhance the joint Islamic action.”
“[W]e don’t see the independence of Kosovo as some kind of precedent,” Burns reiterated the oft-repeated assurance during his press briefing on January 18, but ethno-religious separatists around the world, and Muslims before all others, were quick to challenge his assertion. Pandora’s box is wide open, and Israel is among the first to feel the consequences.
The Palestinians “should follow Kosovo’s example and unilaterally declare independence” if peace talks with Israel fail, Yasser Abed Rabbo, a top aide to the PA President Mahmoud Abbas declared on February 20. “Kosovo is not better than Palestine,” he added. If the United States and the majority of the European Union “have embraced the independence of Kosovo, why shouldn’t this happen with Palestine as well?”
Dr. Rice, Mr. Burns et al would reply “because we say so,” but Israeli analysts are not impressed. Col. Shaul Shay, an expert on Islamic radicalism at BESA (Begin-Sadat) Center at Bar-Ilan, thus notes that when the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina ended, terrorist infrastructures remained there and served as a basis for the Islamic terror activities in Kosovo:
Today, the Balkans serve as a forefront on European soil for Islamic terror organizations, which exploit this area to promote their activities in Western Europe, and other focal points worldwide . . . [T]he establishment of an independent Islamic territory including Bosnia, Kosovo and Albania along the Adriatic Coast, is one of the most prominent achievements of Islam since the siege of Vienna in 1683. Islamic penetration into Europe through the Balkans is one of the main achievements of Islam in the twentieth century.
The main danger, as he and other prominent Israelis see it, is that the U.S. recognition of Kosovo endorses the principle that a solution to an intractable political and territorial quarrel can and should be imposed by outside countries, even if one of the parties rejects the proposed solution as contrary to its vital national interests. While the question of how Israel should reach agreement with Palestinian aspirations remains open, the notion of a solution imposed from outside is anathema to all Israelis. Furthermore, outside powers’ award of a part of a state’s sovereign territory to a violent ethnic or religious minority may come to affect not just the West Bank but even the Galilee and the Negev, where Arabs have, or may soon acquire, local majorities. Israel’s Muslim population is now just above 20 percent, roughly the same as Serbia’s with Kosovo included. If Albanian Muslims can demand separation from Serbia today, citing alleged past mistreatment, it is a sure bet Israel’s Arabs will do the same tomorrow.
In order to survive in a hostile and unpredictable environment, Israel must not allow a dreadful precedent like this to stand. There are two main areas in which Israel can make a positive contribution to ensuring that it does not stand.
Firstly, the Israeli government should state its publicly and forcefully that it is against an imposed solution. Secondly, the impact of Israeli opinion on the public policy community in the United States should not be underestimated. Among the American advocates of Kosovo independence are many friends and supporters of Israel who appear oblivious to the fact that their advocacy might have a negative impact on Israel. Such advocates are found among media, public policy groups and think tanks, advocacy organizations, and other centers of influence representing in particular the US Jewish community, liberals, neoconservatives, and elements of the Christian community.
In addition, Israel's military and defense experience with terrorism is widely respected in American defense, intelligence, and homeland security sectors, both in and out of government, and in both the Executive and Legislative branches. It is important that every such contact in the United States be informed by their Israeli interlocutors that the wrong solution for Kosovo, currently pursued by the United States, would have an adverse impact on Israel.
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P.S. We note that Dr. Rice says it is time for Serbs to accept that Kosovo is no longer theirs, and that it also “time to drop centuries of grievance and sentimentality in the Balkans.” “We believe that the resolution of Kosovo's status will really, finally, let the Balkans begin to put its terrible history behind it,” Rice said. “I mean, after all, we're talking about something from 1389 to 1389! It’s time to move forward.”
Presumably Dr. Rice also holds that it is time to drop centuries of grievance and sentimentality in the African-American community. No doubt she also believes that the ending of “affirmative action” will really, finally, let the Blacks begin to put their terrible history behind them. After all, we’re talking about something from the 1600s and 1700s! It’s time to move forward.