Kosovo and Israel

This is truly bizarre:

[M]any Israelis fear that an independent Kosovo, or a potentially unified “Greater Albania” could serve as an Islamist beachhead in southern Europe that relies on Iranian and Saudi support, an argument that [Kosovar PM Hashim] Thaci said “does not even deserve comment.” It was this concern that lead then Foreign Minister Ariel Sharon to break with most of the international community in 1999 and support Slobodan Milosevic during the NATO bombing of Serbia. Nevertheless, Thaci describes Sharon as a “great leader.”

I had no idea Sharon supported Milosevic in 1999; that’s beneath contempt, even considering Sharon’s proven comfort with mass murder. A European nation was slaughtering an ethnic minority and Sharon sides with the butcher-in-chief? That would be bad enough for the foreign minister of any other country, but it’s particularly disappointing considering that Sharon’s Israeli. In many ways, Kosovo is like Israel, a nation launched by victims of genocide to prevent future persecution. Israel ought to be the prime sponsor of such an endeavor. But instead, there’s FUD about Kosovo being some kind of Iranian proxy state.
By the way, here’s what Thaci has to say about the nature of the soon-to-be declared independent Kosovo:

Kosovo is going to be a democratic and secular state of all its citizens, and the freedom to exercise religion without any hindrance is granted by the Kosovo Constitution.

Secular? Democratic? Well, that’s more than Israel can say for itself at this point.

13 thoughts on “Kosovo and Israel

  1. I am no fan of Ariel Sharon, but there is a big difference between obstinate neutrality, however bad that looks and is, and active assistance to Milosevic. Sharon’s support for Milosevic did not go as far as, for example, historical American support for Suharto.
    As for Israel itself, I’ve been there, and yes, it certainly is a democracy. It’s a democracy that is doing some very bad things, but that does not mean that it isn’t a democracy. Indeed, the US is also doing some very bad things. It’s not as secular as it should be, but then, neither is the United States. As far as I know, they don’t put God on the currency in Israel.

  2. Okay, I know what the argument will be. Israel is not a democracy because the Palestinians can’t vote. I have long accepted that Israel treats the Palestinians badly — I’m further to the left on that than almost all of my relatives — but not letting them vote in Israel itself is not one of their sins. The Palestinians are not interested in secular rule, and they are vehemently against sharing power with Jews or any other non-Arab Israelis. They should have their own country. Reasoning that Israel is not a democracy on these grounds is like saying that the US is not a democracy because Iraq has no delegates.

  3. The fact of the matter is that there are 3,760,000 people under Israeli control who do not have a vote in a sovereign state. I’m not saying they have to be represented in the Knesset. But so long as Palestine does not have a seat in the UN and is claimed as a part of Israel by large segments of the Israeli political spectrum, then no, Israel cannot be considered democratic, the same way the United States before the Voting Rights Act or the 19th amendment was not democratic. Imperialism is inherently undemocratic, as is group disenfranchisement. That’s a bind I don’t think Israel as it currently exists can get out of.

  4. Kosovo independence probably did contribute to a mini civil in Macedonia, so it’s not totally completely weird that Israel would be concerned.
    I can’t authoritatively commit on how realistic that threat is (doesn’t seem likely), but the fact that the Kosovar PM says isn’t going happen doesn’t mean much.

  5. The fact of the matter is that there are 3,760,000 people under Israeli control who do not have a vote in a sovereign state.
    Fine, then, there are tens of millions of Iraqis under American control who do not have a vote in a sovereign state. And that’s not even counting illegal immigrants. Ergo the US is NOT A DEMOCRACY.

  6. there are tens of millions of Iraqis under American control who do not have a vote in a sovereign state. And that’s not even counting illegal immigrants.
    That’s misleading, and you know it Greg. Iraq is a de jure sovereign state, even if we control it in practice. It has a government and a seat at the UN. We recognize it as an independent state. Israel recognizes Palestine as a colony.
    For that matter there is Puerto Rico. No vote, therefore the US is not a democracy.
    Puerto Rico has voted time and again to reject statehood in favor of commonwealth status. Try again.

  7. Israel is one of the most racist countries in the world. Anyone who isn’t Jewish has no rights, and even non-white Jews like Yemenites and African jews are treated as second class citizens.

  8. Iraq is a de jure sovereign state, even if we control it in practice.
    Fine then, the United States is a democracy in name only. It formally recognizes Iraq as an independent country, but Iraq is in practice a subjugated client state. The US will not be a genuine democracy unless and until it either pulls out of Iraq, or Iraq is granted statehood.
    Puerto Rico has voted time and again to reject statehood in favor of commonwealth status.
    That argument may partly work for the bare majority of Puerto Ricans who did vote against statehood, but it certainly does not work for all Puerto Ricans, not only the near-majority who voted for statehood, but also others. For instance, if your family moved to Puerto Rico, you would all be stripped of your right to vote for Obama this fall. A number of Puerto Rican residents have even sued for the right to vote for president, and they have all lost their cases. Therefore the US is not even a de jure democracy.
    Moreover, the argument that you put forward in regard to Puerto Rico applies even more strongly to Palestine. Both a majority of the Palestinians and the party that it elected view the Israeli government as a criminal cabal that has no moral authority to grant voting rights. They view Arabs who have accepted Israeli citizenship and voting rights as traitors. That is certainly not the way that Puerto Ricans see it.

  9. Fine then, the United States is a democracy in name only. It formally recognizes Iraq as an independent country, but Iraq is in practice a subjugated client state. The US will not be a genuine democracy unless and until it either pulls out of Iraq, or Iraq is granted statehood.
    Democracy is not a binary; I think that’s what giving us trouble here. Let’s both agree that the US will be more democratic if it pulls out of Iraq, and Israel will be more democratic if it pulls out of the West Bank and the Golan Heights.
    Moreover, the argument that you put forward in regard to Puerto Rico applies even more strongly to Palestine. Both a majority of the Palestinians and the party that it elected view the Israeli government as a criminal cabal that has no moral authority to grant voting rights. They view Arabs who have accepted Israeli citizenship and voting rights as traitors. That is certainly not the way that Puerto Ricans see it.
    Puerto Ricans did an up-or-down, binding vote on whether to become a state. Palestinians haven’t, and if they did it sure wouldn’t be complied with by Israel.

  10. Democracy is not a binary; I think that’s what giving us trouble here. Let’s both agree that the US will be more democratic if it pulls out of Iraq, and Israel will be more democratic if it pulls out of the West Bank and the Golan Heights.
    I have no problem with that. I will even throw in that Gaza’s autonomy is not all that meaningful. In fact, my point all along has been that Israeli Jews are often condemned as the world’s worst people on the basis of binary sanctimony, and other devices of wild hyperbole. I think that Mike Cohen’s comment here does speak to that point.
    (On the American side, I would also say that the US would be more democratic if it granted Puerto Rico statehood. If you think otherwise, then you have been fooled by the mainland policy of bribing the Puerto Ricans not to demand their obvious rights.)

  11. I have no problem with that. I will even throw in that Gaza’s autonomy is not all that meaningful. In fact, my point all along has been that Israeli Jews are often condemned as the world’s worst people on the basis of binary sanctimony, and other devices of wild hyperbole. I think that Mike Cohen’s comment here does speak to that point.
    I certainly agree. Israel has its problems, and I object when many in the American press try to minimize them, but it’s not even in the same ballpark as Zimbabwe, Burma, etc.
    On the American side, I would also say that the US would be more democratic if it granted Puerto Rico statehood. If you think otherwise, then you have been fooled by the mainland policy of bribing the Puerto Ricans not to demand their obvious rights.
    I’m with you on that too. While we’re at it, let’s grant DC statehood. If that means a constitutional amendment, so be it. It’s wrong for DC to have no representation in Congress at the same time that Wyoming does.

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