Friday, June 04, 2010

Israel Gets Serbed

I don't normally deal with Israel here, or the whole Middle East question (one emotionally charged intractable conflict is plenty, thank you), but what happened the other day does have a fair bit to do with things I've been writing about for the past decade or so.

It should be obvious by now that the "Gaza flotilla" was a trap. Israel walked right into it. Fortunately for the Israelis, they too were filming the whole thing, and knew how to use blogs and YouTube, so they may have even come out ahead in the propaganda skirmish that followed. But there is no doubt in my mind whatsoever that the whole flotilla operation was designed from the start to be a propaganda stunt. The "activists" (is that what they are called these days?) aboard those ships were armed and ready. They wanted to be stopped and boarded, so they could scream to high heaven about being abused by the Israeli "pirates" on the high seas. It almost worked, too.

As I said over on Ilana Mercer's blog earlier in the week, the entire strategy employed by Hamas seems to be a reprise of Sarajevo. So the Israeli presence on its borders becomes a "siege", the legitimate blockade of a hostile polity becomes "strangling", and Israeli raids in response to missiles fired from Gaza become "terror." Israel is dubbed an occupying power even though it unilaterally retreated from Gaza in 2005, leaving it as a de facto independent city-state. And Israeli inspections in international waters, though legal, become "piracy."

Hamas routinely fires missiles from Gaza at Israeli civilians across the border. They see nothing wrong with this - remember, to Hamas, Israel has no right to exist, and needs to be obliterated. But if Israel retaliates, whether by assassinating Hamas leaders or sending tanks into Gaza to destroy missile launchers, or by enforcing a perfectly legal blockade to deny Hamas weapons and ammunition, while allowing food and other civilian supplies in - ah, that's nothing short of "genocide," then!

Israel has a powerful conventional army, navy, air force, and most likely even nuclear weapons (though not officially acknowledged). It has defeated Arab armies on numerous occasions in open warfare, and has successfully fought terrorism and insurgency through special operations. So those who wish it destroyed came up with a way of turning that strength into a weakness: cast themselves as innocent, unarmed, helpless victims and howl as loud as possible about being abused by that very Israel whose strength no one can dispute.

There are two recent examples of this approach being enormously successful. In Bosnia, the government of Alija Izetbegovic (revered in the Muslim world as an ideologue of jihad and Islamic revolution, but still believed in the West to have been a multicultural democrat) provoked an armed confrontation with the Serb and Croat populations, then raised hell in the media about being a victim of "aggression" and "genocide." European and American public were steadily bombarded with the most outlandish claims of atrocities, courtesy of legions of "advocacy journalists" stationed in Sarajevo, who somehow never saw thousands of armed Muslim troops in the city, or their artillery, but only "helpless civilians." Likewise, they never saw any of the Serb civilians killed by Muslim fire on the other side of the line; oh no, every Serb in Bosnia was a drunken, bearded savage with a machine gun in one hand, a bottle of brandy in the other, and a bloody knife in his teeth.

This distortion of reality went so far as to actually exaggerate the military strength of the Serbs, in an effort to make them seem even more formidable (and their enemies that much more innocent/unarmed/endangered). In this kind of 4th-generation warfare, weakness was an asset, and strength became a liability.

Not only was the Muslim (and Croat) version of the war propagated as gospel truth in the West, the Serbs were prevented from saying anything in their own defense through the second-worst regime of UN sanctions in history (the worst being what was imposed on Iraq). By the time the sanctions were officially lifted, the Serbs had been so thoroughly demonized, few dared question the official story when NATO attacked Serbia itself and occupied one of its provinces in 1999. Once again, the world was told of the Evil Genocidal Serb Aggressors wantonly killing and abusing innocent "Kosovarian" civilians, which was obviously so egregious that it required NATO to violate its own charter and that of the UN to launch a "humanitarian" intervention.

Here was identity politics brought to its logical extreme: a situation in which the designated victim could literally get away with murder (Izetbegovic, the KLA) yet be seen as innocent and virtuous, while the designated culprit (the Serbs) could be slandered with impunity, and anything they did would be perceived as purely evil. It isn't just about delegitimizing one's means of defense, but delegitimizing one's right to exist at all.

The problem with trying to explain this to people is that this sort of demonization has so far been practiced only against the Serbs. Even Iraqis, who have suffered horrifically, were not singled out as a nation (rather, the hatred was focused on the persona of Saddam Hussein, and the odium largely dissipated after his execution). Only a few careful observers have seen it as a general trend, applied beyond the Balkans. As a result, no one in the world really believes they could one day get "Serbed" (for lack of a better term) themselves.

But as we see from the flotilla incident, some folks have taken the lessons of Bosnia and Kosovo to heart, even if no one else has. Not surprisingly, the organizer of the propaganda stunt is a Turkish "NGO" first formed to provide aid to the Bosnian Muslims. Among the "activists" detained on the ships were a Syrian with Bosnian citizenship and the "President of Muslim Forum of Kosova" (sic). There are Balkan connections all over - all but guaranteeing that the mainstream press in the West won't say a word about any of them. Because, as we know, the Balkans is a sacred cow and the pure, innocent victimhood of "Bosnians" and "Kosovars" must and shall not be brought into question. Ever.

Why, even the Israelis won't say anything about it, so as not to hurt their own cause. Can't allow oneself to be associated with those Evil Serbs, right? That's how thorough the demonization has been. But if it can happen to the Serbs, it can happen to anyone. The real question is, who is next?


Johan said...

There is an excellent article by John Pilger in the latest New Statesman that places this topic in perspective:

The Hero of Crappy Town said...

It is possible that parallels exist as to the means with which the conflict is being waged. This aid convoy may indeed have been planned as a way to win a battle "in the court of public opinion" rather than as a way to best deliver aid. However no one can claim that this was a fabrication (which were shamelessly used against the Serbs time and time again). Israeli soldiers did indeed kill nine people. Also, winning the sympathies of world public opinion here is not merely the necessary prelude to foreign intervention from a great power. Instead it would be a way of applying pressure on Israel to end the blockade of Gaza which is placing great hardship upon its populace.

And there are certainly no parallels between Serb and Israeli overall positions. Just the opposite. Serbs were themselves subject to economic sanctions, not dissimilar to the blockade imposed on Gaza. And had their own right to self-determination stomped upon, just like the Palestinians. Also both the Serbs and the Palestinians had been displaced by what are essentially trespassers. Albanians in Kosovo and Israelis in Palestine own only a small proportion of the land.

When Hamas fires rockets it fires them into villages which were once Palestinian, hitting land which is still owned by one Palestinian family or the other. This does not make it less an act of terrorism, but it helps to contextualize their actions. Besides Israel too employs terrorism, but it does it on a far larger scale. It is impossible to pretend that the blockade of Gaza is in place to deny Hamas components for its rockets. The blockade declares a huge amount of different goods as being "dual-use" and does not permit its importation. This is a deliberate policy to cause hardship upon the populace of Gaza as a way of collectively punishing them. Just like NATO during its 1999 aggression on Yugoslavia bombed countless "dual-use" facilities as a way of collective punishment of the general population through imposition of hardships and joblessness brought on by destruction of power plants, bridges, factories, refineries, heat plants, etc. This was/is terrorism.

Aleks said...

Though there was not much official and public support for serbs, the worst were of course those from the US. Israelis were with the Serbs during the war in Bosnia to the point that they provide artillery shells to the VRS (the mainstream story being that it was in return to let the last remaining jews out of Sarajevo - as if!), not to mention Israel's PM Ariel Sharon allowing Serbia to use its AMOS satellite to broadcast its news globally when EUTELSAT illegally blocked Serbia, successor state to the SFRY and founding member of EUTELSAT. Albright screamed blue murder at Sharon who eventually crumbled...

Israeli/jewish cooperation and friendship is a story that the MSM has consistently refused to touch because it would pose some very uncomfortable questions for the assumed realites. It is definately worth futher in depth investigation even if it is too 'sensitive'

Having heard from my jewish contacts in the US in the early 1990s, they all wanted to know what the hell was going on because they knew what the croats and bosnian moslems did in the past.

Unfortunately it is the case that those claiming to represent the jews in the US betrayed the Serbs publically, some having later claimed to have been tricked (in particular the signees of the famous jews against genocide in bosnia letter published, I believe in the NYT.

Unfortunately plenty of these so called 'leaders' have still refused to recant publically but recognize privately that they were wrong.

Considering all the demonization that had been invested against the serbs, I am not so surprised that those US jews who knew the news was BS kept their heads below the parapet. Quite the gordian knot.

Aleks said...


I think the 'good news' from this is that the turks have damaged their credibility in the balkans considering their overzealousness regarding the ships affair.

They can dream on as much as they like about their 'neo-ottmanist' fantasy, but Erdogan and his AKP have p-offed a lot of people, allies (NATO - hurrah!) and enemies (PKK just quit ceasefire) alike.

ajokic said...

If we adopt your concept of "being Serbed" I would suggest a correction of one of your claims by saying that the Hutu were Serbed way beyond Serbs themselves ever have.

The Hero of Crappy Town said...

This is interesting enough to hear about AMOS, etc.

But I also think any friends of Israelis would do best to call for change in Israel's hard-line policies that are proving counter productive and in the end work to the detriment of Israel. There are many people who believe Hamas would be willing to set for pre-1967 borders, but since Israel refuses to offer any concessions on its part Hamas has no reason not to drop its hard-line either.

Friendship is not proven by enabling a friend's folly. But by extracting him out of it.

Anonymous said...

I could list you the numerous Jewish organisations, Jewish figures in the media and foreign government that supported anti-Serb agenda during the 90's.

Remember Zionist Tom Lantos?

Plus the fact in the Caucasus the Turks and Israelis having been working together with Chechen militants to annex Russia's oil rich South and prop up Azerbaijan and Georgia as the regional powerhouses.

As Sibel Edmonds revealed the Turks and Israelis were involved in black market nuclear smuggling.

Turkish relations with Israel deteriorated since the attempted coup of 2007/08 of the current government which MOSSAD was involved presumably because Turkey would oppose an assault on Iran which would further strengthen Kurdish separatists.

Actually what is not reported is the most of these terrorist cases the groups either belong to or were originally recruited to fight in Chechnya. September the 11th is the perfect example of this but also Madrid, fighters being redirected to Iraq through the Abu Hafs network, bombings in Turkey, attempted Christmas market bombing in Germany in 2000 and the 98 African Embassy bombing bombings recruited from Chechen training camps in Afghanistan in the Khost region.

The Jordanian militants like Abu Zarqawi are member of Palestinian-Chechen based militant groups.

In fact when Clinton bombed the Afghan camp in retaliation to the 98 attack Khattab wanted to move the camps further into Russia so they could not get bombed as detailed in a declassified

I take it you probably never read Paul Murphy’s book Wolves of Islam?

CubuCoko said...

While I do appreciate all these comments, I do ask you all to stay on topic. This sort of discussion inevitably tends to get out of hand.

Let's not fight the "Israel/Palestine" war here. As I said, the Balkans is enough for me. I pointed out the similarities between the approach taken by Hamas (and now Turkey - which has ramped up its Balkans involvement recently as well) and that of Izetbegovic back in the day. I don't mean it as a blanket endorsement of Israeli policies. I stopped short of analogy on purpose.

Anonymous said...

The point I was making is that it is hypocritical of leading Jewish individuals and pro-Israel commentators supported Bosnian and Kosovars while complaining about the reaction to the flotilla controversy.

Commentator highlighted this fact during the Gaza operation in 2009 when Jewish commentator David Aaronovitch link I found on the Srebrenica Historical Project site Media War section.

“David Aaronovitch, so disturbed by the exploitation of the Holocaust in relation to Gaza, was only too willing to do it himself in relation to the Serbs. He said that in Bosnia, European people were murdered en masse “just as they had been 50 years earlier” (emphasis added). Such was the Holocaust-hysteria during Bosnia and Kosovo that death camp survivor Elie Weisel felt compelled to intervene. “The Holocaust was conceived to annihilate the last Jew on the planet. Does anyone believe that Milosevic and his accomplices seriously planned to exterminate all the Bosnians, all the Albanians, all the Muslims in the world?”, he asked.”

Seems to be a hypocritical double standard.

Personally I don't particularly care about Palestine/Israel issue given that HAMAS was/is involved in creating Muslims states ethnically cleansing the non-Muslim inhabitants which they claim Israel did the native Palestinians with the establishment of Israel (wither true or not).

Even if there was a two state solution there still would not be peace. Look at neighbouring Jordan or Bosnia with talk of it breaking apart or Chechnya during there periods of independence after the fall of the USSR as example or even how the Palestinians govern there own territory.

CubuCoko said...

Jack, I've mentioned here previously the confession by James Harff or Ruder Finn (a PR company that worked for Croatia and the Bosnian Muslims) - well, more of a boast, really - how the greatest success of the propagandists was winning over the Jewish public opinion in the West to the Croat/Muslim cause.

Obviously, many like Aaronovitch (and Wiesel himself has stood out in peddling the Muslim line) have embraced Serbophobia at face value. Worse yet, they haven't seen fit to change their minds even after revelations that they were wrong.

One other thing. By using "Bosnians" and "Kosovars" for the Muslims and Albanians, respectively, one unconsciously embraces the mainstream propaganda. Imagine if the Aztlan separatists insisted they be called "Californians"...

J said...

Hmmm, maybe the Freedom Riders didn't really want a bus ride.

Johan said...