Unilateral declarations have played a central role in Israeli politics over the past years. Israel's withdrawals from both the south of Lebanon and the Gaza strip have been controversial in the region's politics. On the one hand, Israeli leaders were awarded by major support both internally and internationally, resulting from withdrawal. However, Israel is still dealing with the consequences: Hizbollah arming in Lebanon and the daily escalating violence in the Gaza Strip. When diplomacy fails and all hope is gone, unilateral actions tend to follow.
Kosovo's recent declaration of independence results from the failure of both sides to reach common grounds over diplomatic talks. Kosovo's Albanian citizens are not willing to wait anymore. As major European powers, including France, Germany, Britain and the United States officially recognized Kosovo's declaration, countries like Spain, Russia and China have been reluctant to recognize the State, claiming that the declaration did not respect international law.
The Israeli government has not formally announced its opinion. However, several Hebrew bloggers have been reacting and comparing the political fatigue in the Balkans to that back home. Ilan Goren's post, in Hebrew, caught my attention for its descriptive comparison between the two regions. It is translated below:
“If they continue to behave so wildly we'll simply cut off their electricity supply”, promises a senior politician to his supporters. “Lets see them behave that way in the dark and cold”. The audience applauds and flags are waived. National pride in its full force while all stand still. Foreign diplomats are far from thrilled.
The senior politician is not alone. This is an accepted tone in the wild east of 2008. At least 75 per cent of the electricity supplied to the stubborn region saturated with blood and hate comes from the larger, more powerful neighbor's power plant. The region is rebellious and stubborn, wanting independence and sovereignty as a country. The big war resulted with mass exile, killings and the war criminals on both sides declaring themselves as leaders. Now the local Muslims dream of independence; demand it. If by means of force, or even through heavy violence. Whatever price is necessary.
Nationalists from the big, powerful country, surrounded by enemies, will never concede. If necessary, they will limit the population's access out of the region. Also, a ban on trade and commodities will certainly be possible… As we are dealing with peoples’ claim of right to the land of their fathers, we are also dealing with national rights of a poor and deprived population, including the right for refugees to return to their land. The local national party swears by this, and is willing to use terrorist methodology. From its point-of-view, this is a fight for freedom.
Yes. You guessed right. I am obviously writing about Serbia and Kosovo. I did not refer to Israel and the Palestinians (written in cynical font).
Serbia and Kosovo are not Israel and Palestine. There are many substantial differences. Over there, international military forces intervened, here only diplomacy. From some 50 years ago, the amount of death and exile is not similar. At least not in recent years. But one thing the conflicts do have in common: restraint is not in fashion. Politicians who want to succeed, especially in times of elections, choose the extreme: throwing inflammable material into the already existing fire is a sure sell. And what about the citizens? At first, they will be enthusiastic, but later scurry to purchase emergency lights and fire extinguishers.
In that sense, the Balkan is here.
Interesting article, Gilad. Thanks.
The name Ilan Goren is so familiar… would I know him from anywhere else?
Thanks Maya. His name DOES sound familiar, but not sure where from.
Regarding the article, its interesting to see the developments in mainstream media. From Ha’aretz today – http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/956430.html – “Threat of unilateral declaration shakes talks from their slumber”
Here are the differences between Israel – Palestine vs Serbia – Kosovo:
1. Albanians/Illyrians are way older that Sllavs in that region. Jews and Arabs have both been there for eternity.
2. Isralis are way stronger than Palestinians, however they are a civilized society and do not practice ethnic cleansing. Serbs were once stronger (thanks to Russia) and they gladly practiced mass murdering for centuries.
3. Lastly, it is about religion in tha East. It is not in the Balkans. Albanians are not religious and far from extremist Islam. There will never be a danger in the region by Albanians because they believe in only one religion “Shqiptaizem = Albanian-ism”
Thanks for your insight Alb.
I’d argue with your third comment, though. Contrary to people’s opinions, the Middle East conflict is not about religion. It is mostly about territory and land. Religious differences mark problems in allocating rule over the holy sites (i.e. Jerusalem), but it is a territorial dispute.
Hi. I’m a Kosovar Albanian, and I believe that there are many key differences between the issue in Kosova and in Palestine.
To start, as Alb stated before me, Kosovars are not orthodox religious practitioners whatever. Check out pictures of people in Prishtina or any Kosovar city. You will NOT see a single burka or person dressed up in Muslim-related garb. The reason is that there so few orthodox muslim practitioners. The number of churches is indeed eclipsed by the number of mosques, but this can very easily be showed to be a throwback to Ottoman rule and not something to do with actual religious propensity.
The second difference is that the some sects originating in Palestine are partaking in suicide bombing attacks and other such terrorist attacks, leaving many civilians dead. How many articles have you come across where Albanians are cited as doing this to Serbians either in Serbia or Kosovo (barring the war, and I am ashamed about what some of my countrymen have done during the war to Serbian civilians). The answer is none. We have never threatened the security of people living within the actual borders of Serbia. Our conflicts with the Serbs where within our borders, while protecting ourselves from vicious Serbian policies (promulgated by Milosevic) and from the massacres they so readily committed (read up on Racak to see what I mean).
One other difference is that we are indeed the majority in Kosova, whereas Palestinian extremists believe that ALL of Israel belongs to Palestine. I am happy that Palestinians will soon have the ability to call the place they live their country, but I do not support anything more than the right to rule in predominantly Palestinian locations.
On another note, during WW2 every single last Jew in Albania survived and very few died in – Kosova less than 20 if I am not mistaken (I base this information on material garnered from Noel Malcolm’s “Short History of Kosovo” and “Rescue in Albania:…” by Harvey Sarner).
If it’s not about religion, why is Saudi Arabia heavily funding the building of mosques and were so many churches destroyed? Minorities are no longer safe in Kosovo. Kosovo might be recognized by many as an independent country, but that doesn’t make it one. Let’s not forget that superpowers like China and Russia are against it — and this time they are right. The US and the EU are only trying to find a puppet state; but it will be a puppet of the Arabian world because the corrupt Islamic leaders are trying to destroy the European Christians.
Complete lies from Ylli. Many tens of thousands of Jews and Roma and hundreds of thousands of Serbs were killed by Albanian pro Nazi militias of thugs. Same thing happened in WW1. At the beginning of the 20th century Kosovo was majority Serb with a Albanian and Roma minorities. This of course was not told to us by Madeline Albright or Clinton or the news, that those poor Albanians “suffering” under the rule of a serb majority only came the majority by stabbing their neighbors in the back. Those that said that Albanians aren’t really Muslims are right. I cannot agree with nothanks on his anti Muslimness, this is not about religion. In the US Muslims and Slavs such as Russians and Serbs face the same basic hate propaganda and are threatened by the same enemy US imperialism and ought to be friends. though It is true what is happening to the minorites and all the ancient churches. The Serb and Roma refugees of Kosovo and Krajina and Bosnia have a lot in common with the Palestinians. Milosevic seemed to see that and was allied with Arab leaders such as the president of Syria Iraq and the PLA ans was a good friend of Yasser Arafat
I totally agree with Besnik Horvath. As an Arab, I support the Serbs as much as I support the Palestinians. Both peoples were victims of the same desease called imperialism, both condemned to be refugees in their own countries, only because the oligarchs who rule this World decided to create two artificial and illegal States in the Middle East and in the Balkans to serve their own interest, at the expense of the Natives. Either you support colonialism or you’re against it, regardless from religion or nationality. As both victims of the Western-Zionist imperialism, Serbs and Arabs should be united. I also agree that most Albanians are not praciticing Muslims, they are not even all Muslims. Many Christian Albanians immigrated from Albania to Kosovo to join the KLA and fight against the Serbs, while many Muslim Slavs fought in the Serbian army. The KLA practiced ethnic cleansing not only against Serbs and Roma, but also against Muslim Slavs (Gorani), Turks and all other non-Albanian minorities living in Kosovo, the same way as the illegal State of Israel is commiting an ethnic cleansing against the Palestinians, of which 85% are Muslim and 15% are Christian !! As for Israel’s position regarding the independance of Kosovo, it’s clearly hypocritical. The only reason why Israel hasn’t still recognized the illegal independance of Kosovo is because it would sound like a bad joke for the rest of the World, from a country which denies the existence of the Native people it has stolen the land from! But everybody knows about the very close diplomatical relationships between Israel and the self-declared government of Kosovo, which consists by the way of former KLA leaders and war criminals such as Hashim Thaci…etc. Everybody knows about the connexions between Kosovo and Israel in human organ trafficking and other kinds of criminal activities. And who hasn’t heard about the MPRI and its very close ties to the Mossad? Remember that private militia which trained the KLA during the war and provided it with weapons against the Serbs? Btw, the people who organized the NATO bombing of Serbia and the illegal independance of Kosovo are all extreme pro-israelis: Madelaine Albright, Bernard Kouchner, Donald Rumsfeld…etc. (the list is much too long).