Arutz Sheva Israel National Radio Broadcast on April 13 / Nisan 27, 5759


By Jay Shapiro


It would be difficult, it not impossible, not to have some mention of the dramatic events now occurring in the Balkans. Let me state at the outset that these events are not simple. The flashy pictures and sound bites only scratch the surface of a conflict extending back hundreds of years. There have been unspeakable atrocities carried out by all sides against each other at some time in their history. At the moment, the Serbs have the upper hand in the ongoing internecine warfare between Christian Serbs and Moslem Albanians. In any case, I would like to focus upon the implications of the crisis for the Jewish people and for Israel. What is most relevant for Israel is the behavior of the western powers, particularly the United States and the European Union.

To begin, let us take a close look at the strategic and technical acumen, as well as the overall dependability, of US President Bill Clinton and his foreign policy advisers. Keep in mind that the team responsible for American activity in Kosovo is roughly the same group that has been charting the course of US Middle East strategy for quite some time. It is the selfsame "peace" team that has been twisting Israel's arm, forcing it to relinquish ever greater tracts of its territory to the Palestinian terrorists, that is the brains behind the Administration's campaign in the Balkans. This includes Sandy Berger, the President's national security adviser and, of course, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

Consider the Wall Street Journal editorial of April 2: "It now seems clear that the President went into this military commitment without having thought it through and is getting himself, his troops, his nation, and the NATO alliance into a deeper and deeper mess. It is well established by now that bombing an adversary's army while ruling out ground troops is a recipe for irresolution. Absent ground troops, the only option is bigger bombing, inevitably of civilians. The lesson of war is that if you are compelled to use force, use it overwhelmingly. This is also the responsible course. What save lives is getting the war over quickly. There is no reason to be surprised that the United States has arrived at this awful moment."

This editorial begets two interesting conclusions. We can see that even in today's modern warfare, there is no substitute for territory. Yet the Americans keep pressing Israel to relinquish its territory to our enemies. People who are out of touch with reality - like Shimon Peres - agree with the Americans. Nothing could be more preposterous. And regarding force, once you decide to use it, do so overwhelmingly. If we would have followed this prudent advice, the ten-year spree of Palestinian Arab violence (the "intifada") would have been over within two days. But our generals, those fellows who now are running for office here in Israel, did not understand how to use the force available to them. As a result, we are now in the bind that we are in.


Regarding the team that advises Mr. Clinton and which is incessantly goading Israel: Michael Kelly of the Washington Post noted that the most revealing glimpse of the Clinton Administration's thinking about Kosovo occurred earlier this month in a private meeting between the Italian prime minister and the president. As reported by the Post, Massimo D'Alea asked Clinton a simple question about the contemplated NATO bombing of Serbia:

What would the US do if Slobodan Milosevic did not back down, but rather boosted his assault on the Kosovar Albanians? The President was stumped by the question. He did not answer, but rather turned inquiringly to his national security adviser, Sandy Berger. Berger hesitated, and then replied: "We will continue the bombing."

It must have been disconcerting for the Italian leader to discover that the chief executive of the world's sole superpower was about to launch a war without a plan that extended beyond next Sunday's talk shows, or without a thought to one of bombing's most likely consequences. The NATO air campaign against Serbia began on March 24, and five days later, at least 130,000 Kosovar Albanians had been forced by the resultant Serb ground campaign to take refuge in Albania, Montenegro, and Macedonia. Serbian troops were continuing their systematic campaign against the ethnic Albanian population, reportedly bombarding and torching entire villages, executing civilian leaders, and sending women and children into exile.

It turns out that the American strategy in Kosovo, such as it is, is rooted in a series of remarkably careless assumptions: (1) That it would be possible to get Milosevic to agree to accept foreign troops on Serbian soil and to place Kosovo, the historical and cultural heart of Serbia, on a path to independence; (2) That Milosevic would swiftly back down in the face of, or under the punishment of, bombing; (3) That, if necessary, the US could accomplish what it did in Iraq. It would simply declare the bad guy's military to be "degraded" and triumphantly go home; (4) That it was realistic to promise at the outset that no American ground assault was forthcoming, thus giving Milosevic reason to think that he could wait out the bombing - and that he might as well take the opportunity to slip in a bit of ethnic spring cleansing.


The American approach to the Israeli-Arab problem is just as unwitting. Clinton and his advisers - as well as the European Union - postulate that there is a real estate problem between the Jews and Arabs, one that can be solved by Israel endowing the terrorists with a few thousand square miles which they will then use to build a peace-loving and democratic state that will live in harmony with its neighbors. To talk about the PLO and democracy in one breath is to reveal unfathomable depths of ignorance. One of our problems is that not one of Israel's leaders have stated to the Americans what the real dilemmas are. The reason that our so-called leaders have not done so is not the subject of this article. But suffice it to say that no one has disabused the Americans of their colossal ignorance of the nature of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Gerald Steinberg of the Begin-Sadat Center has pointed out that the events in the Balkans provide an important reminder of the crucial role of military force and territory, even in the post-Cold War era. If Israel is reduced further in size and power, as the result of overly optimistic agreements with the Palestinians and Syria, and we are confronted again by an Arab coalition intent on annexing "Palestine" for the Arabs, our fate would be far worse than that of the Kosovars. In such circumstances, the international community might very well meet in solemn assembly, and perhaps even wag its collective diplomatic finger at the Syrians, Iraqis, Palestinians, and others. It is even possible that the Americans would provide weapons and assistance to Israel, as they did following the Arab states' surprise attack against Israel on Yom Kippur, 1973.


No such assistance should be expected from the Europeans, who have apparently neglected to recollect the laws of realpolitik that were enshrined by Castlereagh, Metternich, and Bismarck - not to mention the harsh lessons of Sarajevo, 1914. Western Europe, and Germany in particular, is responsible for the breakup of the former Yugoslavia. The German government launched the Balkans on the road to hell, encouraging Croatia to become an independent state, while many other governments were attempting to avoid war by keeping the federal Republic of Yugoslavia together.

Today, the European Union, under German leadership, finds the time to preach to Israel, while its diplomats bumble along in Serbia. Hiding behind simplistic slogans of "humanitarianism," the Europeans lack any realistic vision of the future. Of course it is facile and cost-free to engage in sweet rhetoric about Palestinian rights, support a Palestinian state, and advocate the redivision of Jerusalem. The Europeans may press Israel for concession after concession, but they will not be anywhere to be seen when the consequences must be faced.

The war in Kosovo should give us all pause. The popular cliches and politically correct views about war and peace have again been exposed as hollow false prophecies. For Europe, these events provide a sober reminder that in the absence of a balance of power, whether in the Balkans or the Middle East, there is no stability. Just as Serbia attacked Kosovo (and, under different circumstances, the Kosovars might well have joined other forces in attacking Serbia), if given a chance, the hatred among Palestinians and much of the Arab world would again be a direct threat to Israel.

It is revealing that certain columnists in Israel have suggested that the world community should know by now, in the century that produced the Holocaust, how to deal with "criminals" like the Serb leaders. They allege that condemnation of the Serbs, in order to be effective, should be translated by the world community into a license to assassinate Milosevic and the other political leaders who are responsible for the mass killing of innocent people. This is what some of these left-wing ideologues are saying publicly. It is not clear, however, why they consider Milosevic to be a befitting target for assassination while Arafat, the murderer of their very own innocent women and children, should be considered the partner in a "peace" process. But I assume that this is another aspect of the left-wing blindness that characterizes them.


A friend of mine showed me an op-ed piece in the local English-language paper. The article was written by someone not known to be a right-winger. He said, "To our shame, as members of the human race, there are times and situations in which two groups of peoples living in contiguity become such deadly enemies to each other that there is no other solution to continued mass killings but the forced separation of the populations. This is what was done in the forced expulsion and resettlement of two million Greeks and one million Turks in the early 1920s. Today it would be called 'ethnic cleansing'. At the time, the Norwegian diplomat Fridtjof Nansen, who fathered the League of Nations, sponsored forced population exchange and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. When one thinks of the worse alternatives, something along that line would seem the best solution for both Kosovo, and Bosnia, Serbia and Croatia. Population exchange, forced or otherwise, is called Transfer. The nasty 'T-word'."

If some of our left-wing friends are starting to take note that the T-word might be the best solution as far as the Balkans are concerned, it should not take too long - if they are honest with themselves - to note that it may also be a good solution for hostile populations outside of the Balkans. Maybe Israel will receive another Nobel Peace Prize winner in this generation when population exchange, the more acceptable name for the T-word, is brought up seriously to solve the problem we have here with our neighbors. You never can tell in this topsy-turvy world, where truth is often stranger, and always more captivating, than fiction.


Jay Shapiro <> is the author of several books on Israel, and is a former Aliyah emissary in the U.S. He lives in Ginot Shomron, and hosts Arutz-7's English Broadcasts every Thursday night.

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