Palestine and the Kosovo analogy

Dear Ali Abunimah,

I have long been and continue to be an ardent admirer of your work, particularly your forceful, unflinching regard for truth and justice, no matter who agrees or disagrees. Based on that virtue of yours, I trust you will take my concern over your characterization of the Serbia/Kosovo question with proportionate seriousness (see Kosovo and the question of Palestine).

You respond to the Haaretz columns about whether Kosovo is Palestine or Israel by engaging in their debate which is, literally, nonsense. That is, Kosovo is Kosovo and Serbia is Serbia. By trying to determine which government is justified based on its similarity to Israel or Palestine does no one any good. It sheds no light on the larger debate and might further obscure it.

Particularly, you dismiss the very real and horrific crimes committed against Kosovar Albanians by Kosovo Serbs. The key point you disregard is not the level of atrociousness. Is that really a debate you want to take up, whether one child shot in the face is bad enough to be an atrocity? The key point you disregard is that these crimes were committed with at least the tacit approval and perhaps the explicit orders of the Belgrade regime and its surrogates in Kosovo. Ignoring or diminishing the horrors of the Serb regime is not a solution to the Kosovo imbroglio because Kosovo’s Albanians must be assured that whatever regime they live under, they are safe. Post-Milosevic Serbia has done nothing to provide those assurances.

A much better point from this affair is that the Serb regime of the ’90s was a criminal regime and now the Kosovo regime may be a criminal regime, and both have failed to minimally assure minorities in their regions of control that they will not be brutalized. I agree with and share your frustration at the intentional ignorance by the West of Kosovo’s ethnic cleansing of Serbs.

The ultimate, best point — and one that is much more germane to your concerns — is that the right of people to live without fear of ethnic cleansing is absolute, regardless of their ethnicity or the ethnicity of the authorities. Your advocacy for a one-state solution depends on the possibility of these assurances being credible among former enemies.

Yours sincerely,

Benton Williams
History Department
DePaul University