August 4, 2008

An Israeli in Kosovo

Prizren and Hills.jpg

Imagine what would happen to a handful of Jewish veterans of the Israel Defense Forces who tried to move from Tel Aviv to an Arab country to open a bistro and bar. In only a few countries could they even get through the airport without being deported or, more likely, arrested. If they were somehow able to finagle a permit from the bureaucracy and operate openly as Israelis in an Arab capital, they wouldn’t last long. Somebody would almost certainly kill them even if the state left them alone.

Kosovo is a Muslim-majority country, but it isn’t Arab. The ethnic Albanians who make up around 90 percent of the population reject out of hand the vicious war-mongering anti-Semitism that still boils in the Middle East. Israelis can open a bistro and bar in Kosovo without someone coming to get them or even harassing them. Shachar Caspi, co-owner of the Odyssea Bistro and the Odyssea Bakery, proves it.

Caspi’s bistro is in the hip, bohemian, and stylish Pejton neighborhood in the city center of Kosovo’s capital Prishtina. A huge number of café bars that look expensive but are actually cheap make up the core of the area. The hyper-local economy in Pejton is apparently based on fashionably dressed young people selling espresso and alcoholic beverages to each other. If you ever visit Prishtina, book a hotel room in that neighborhood.

Pejton Prishtina.jpg
Pejton, Prishtina, Kosovo

An Israeli woman who manages the Odyssea Bakery didn’t feel like being interviewed, so she directed me to her boss Caspi at the Odyssea Bistro around the corner. “He will be more than happy to talk to you,” she said. “He will tell you anything you want to know.”

She was right. I showed up at the bistro unannounced and introduced myself. “Let’s sit at the bar,” Caspi said. The bartender served me an espresso with milk on the house.

Coffee Odyssea Prishtina.jpg
Espresso, Odyssea Bistro, Prishtina, Kosovo

“So how did you end up in Kosovo?” I said.

“It started in about October of 2005,” he said. “I came to work for an Israeli businessman. He has a big company that he wanted me to work for. After a year we thought there was a good potential in the food business, so I contacted a friend in Israel – he is one of my partners – and we started with a small coffee place with two local partners. But we didn’t get along too well, so we went our separate ways and we sold our part. The next thing we got another local partner and another partner from Holland who is a silent investor. And the four of us established this company. And now we have this bistro, and now we have the bakery, and another sandwich bar in the EU building. This concept is very similar to what we have back home, that is why we did it. This looks very similar to places in Tel Aviv.”

Odyssea Bistro Prishtina.jpg
Odyssea Bistro, Prishtina, Kosovo

“I notice that a lot of places in Prishtina remind me of Tel Aviv,” I said.

Though the aesthetic is similar, the building materials in Kosovo are of a bit lower quality than what’s available in Israel. Restaurants in Prishtina – aside from Caspi's – are not designed to resemble those in Tel Aviv on purpose, but the resemblance is incidentally there nevertheless. (The aesthetic in Serbian restaurants and bars, meanwhile, reminded me of those in Lebanon. And, yes, that is a compliment. The Lebanese have more style than just about anyone.)

The Israeli contribution to the local food and drink scene isn’t a secret. I found Caspi’s establishment in the Bradt Guide which lists Odyssea as Israeli-owned. I knew already that Kosovo is friendlier to Israel than most countries in the world – especially compared with other Muslim-majority countries – but I was still slightly surprised to see this. It only takes one Islamist fanatic to blow up a bistro. And it would only take a small amount of the right kind of threatening pressure to drive Caspi, his business partners, and his employees out of town or at least underground. But nothing like this has happened.

“People know you are Israeli?” I said.

“Of course,” he said. “Of course. Everybody knows we are Israelis.”

Caspi Prishtina.jpg
Shachar Caspi, Prishtina, Kosovo

“Nobody cares?” I said.

“On the contrary,” he said, “people like it. They come to speak to us. They want to be in contact. Here I didn’t see anybody that was negative. On the contrary the people are very warm, very nice. They take Islam to a beautiful place. Not a violent place. When they hear I am from Israel they react very warmly.”

Lots of Kosovar Albanians confirmed what Caspi is saying.

“Kosovars used to identify with the Palestinians because we Albanians are Muslims and Christians and we saw Serbia and Israel both as usurpers of land," a prominent Kosovar recently told journalist Stephen Schwartz. "Then we looked at a map and woke up. Israelis have a population of six million, their backs to the sea, and 300 million Arab enemies. Albanians have a total population of eight million, our backs to the sea, and 200 million Slav enemies. So why should we identify with the Arabs?”

“Israelis are okay,” said a waiter named Afrim Kostrati at a cafe named Tirana. “The conflict is not our problem. We are Muslims, but not really. We have respect for Israelis because of the U.S. I have good friends from there.”

“Albanians everywhere are aware that Jews want to help them in this conflict,” said Professor Xhabir Hamiti from the Islamic Studies Department at the University of Prishtina. “And Jews are aware and thankful to Albanians for saving their lives during the Second World War. So we have our sympathy for Israel. I don't think the Muslims here are on the side of the Palestinians.”

When working in other countries I sometimes have to wonder if my interview subjects are only telling me what they think I want to hear. It happens sometimes, especially in the Arab world – not so much because Arabs want to be deceitful but because they want to be polite and agreeable. Caspi's ability to work openly as a Jewish Israeli bistro owner in Kosovo, though, is strong evidence that the Kosovars I spoke to about this weren't just telling me what they thought I wanted to hear. Besides, invective against Israel and Jews is not something many Arabs feel they should have to conceal from reporters.

Jews and Israelis in Muslim-majority countries are like canaries in coal mines, as are women in Muslim-majority countries. You can tell a lot about a place by observing how each are treated. The Taliban impose an oppressive dress code on women at gunpoint, for instance, and the Hamas Charter is explicitly genocidal. It's possible to take the radical Islamist temperature of a Muslim society simply by measuring the misogyny and anti-semitism at both the government level and among the general population. The only country in the entire Middle East that isn't anti-semitic at the government level, the popular level, or both, is the state of Israel.

Kosovo is clearly well outside the mainstream of the Middle East. At the same time, it is one of the few countries even in Europe that isn't at least anti-Israel, if not blatantly anti-semitic, at the government or popular level.

“We have very much in common with Israel,” entrepreneur Luan Berisha said. “In Albania and Kosovo we are in support of Israel. I would never side with the Muslim side to wipe Israel off the face of the world. 90% of Kosovo feels this way. The reason why is we sympathize a lot with the people who have suffered the same fate as us. We were Muslims even in the Second World War – stronger Muslims than we are now – but even then we protected them with our lives. Our grandfathers protected the Jews wherever they were in the region.”

Berisha is right. Albanians did shelter Jews during the Nazi occupation, more than any other people in Europe.

Ottoman Style Prizren.jpg
Classical Ottoman-era architecture, Prizren, Kosovo

More than half survived the Nazi occupation of Kosovo because so many Albanians sheltered them from the Nazi authorities. According to Dan Michman, Chief Historian at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, there were three times as many Jews in Albania at the end of the Holocaust than at the beginning. Albanians were well-known at the time as a friendly population that could be trusted. They refused to surrender Albanian Jews, and they refused to surrender Jewish refugees from elsewhere in Europe.

The dark side of the Nazi occupation of Kosovo were the 6,000 or so ethnic Albanian collaborators who joined the so-called Skanderbeg Division of the Waffen-SS. The Germans had serious problems with them, though. Thousands deserted within the first two months, and the rest were disbanded after a mere eight months of “service.”

I met some Kosovar Albanians who were actually somewhat philo-semitic. One woman who gave me the rundown on local culture and politics showed me a book that I would never expect to see in any Muslim country other than Bosnia (though Bosnia is only 48 percent Muslim.)

It was a copy of the Sarajevo Haggadah.

Sarajevo Haggadah.jpg

This book has an interesting history. It's the text of the traditional Passover Haggadah and was written in 14th Century Spain. It made its way to Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia-Herzegovina, possibly when Jews fled the Spanish Inquisition and were welcomed as refugees in the Balkans by the Turkish Ottoman Empire. Muslim clerics saved the book from destruction during the Nazi occupation, and it was hidden in a bank vault during the Serbian Nationalist siege of Sarajevo. It is one of the most valuable books in the world.

It's hard to describe how startling it was to see any book written in Hebrew in a Muslim-majority country. Perhaps I've spent too much time in Lebanon where something like that just would not happen. What ails the Arab world begins to seem “normal,” at least by the standards of the Islamic world, after enough constant exposure. The Kurds are startlingly different. The Albanians are startlingly different. The story behind the Sarajevo Haggadah is especially salient considering where and by whom the original was saved from destruction.

The Arab Middle East has serious cultural and political problems that deeply affect even a large number of Christians who live in the region. Muslim countries elsewhere sometimes reject these derangements entirely. It's strange that a huge number of Christians in Syria support Hezbollah while so many Muslims in Kosovo sympathize with Israel, but that's how it is.

I rented a car in Prishtina so I could meet up with American soldiers at Camp Bondsteel for a brief embed in Eastern Kosovo. And I laughed out loud to myself when I found a CD of Israeli music in the car stereo that the previous customer left behind.

Jewish CD Kosovo.jpg
Israeli music left behind in rental car in Kosovo

I was obviously not in Syria, nor was I in Gaza.

“They tell me that in the Holocaust they used to keep the survivors inside of shelters,” Caspi said. “And vice versa. In 1999 the first plane that landed in Prishtina for support was an Israeli plane.”

“To support what?” I said.

“The war,” he said.

“Was it humanitarian?” I said.

“Yes,” he said. “The plane was medical support and doctors and some security, and they took refugees to Israel. I know some Albanians who live to this day in Israel.”

“Muslims?” I said.

“Yes,” he said. “They took them. Most of them came back here. I have talked to more than five people already that lived between 1999 and 2001 in Israel until everything was quiet here. Then they came back.”

Israel accepted Muslim refugees from Bosnia, too. And I know of at least one Bosnian Muslim from a friend in Jerusalem who was rescued from Sarajevo by Israelis and given Israeli citizenship.

“So why did Israel get involved?” I said to Caspi.

“It is like when Israel went to India when they had an earthquake.” he said. “They went to Africa when there was a disaster in Mombasa. This is what Israel does.” He sounded slightly irritated, as though I didn't know this already. I did know this already, I just wanted to hear what he had to say about it. “They send medical assistance to places that have disasters.”

Destroyed House Kosovo Countryside.jpg
Destroyed house, Kosovo countryside

“Arab countries wouldn’t accept help like that,” I said. It wasn't a question.

“No,” he said. “Actually after the tsunami they wanted to send it to Indonesia and they didn’t let them because it was a Muslim country. But Israel and Kosovo have a very good relationship. The prime minister visited Israel a few months ago.”

“Why so you suppose it is different for Kosovo?” I said.

“I think that a lot of people in the world think that the war in Israel is a religious war,” he said. “I don’t think it is a religious war. I think it is totally about lands and the occupied territory, and the religion is what leaders try to take advantage to promote their own interests. Like what Yassin did with the suicide bombers and said they will go to heaven. They try to make it a religious war but it is not. It is about lands. I have a lot of friends here. And my girlfriend, she is Muslim, I am very serious about her. And to tell you honestly, most of the Israeli people are not religious people. The last time I was in Synagogue was when I was 13 years old. I had to do the Bar Mitzvah and since then I haven’t gone. If you go to Tel Aviv, 98 percent of the people are super liberal, and they will accept you if are a Palestinian, if you are Chinese, if you are Jewish. If things go well I want to bring my girlfriend back home to Israel.”

“If you are married,” I said, “would she get Israeli citizenship?”

“Here is the big problem in my opinion,” he said, “that the religion and the state are connected. You need to be Jewish to be an important citizen. But now things are changing. Now we have civil marriage in specific places that are recognized in Israel, and she can get citizenship.”

Lebanon also has issues with inter-sectarian marriages. If, say, a Christian wants to marry a Sunni they have to get married in Cyprus or another third country.

“Do you know about the Wahhabis that are coming here?” I said to Caspi. Well-heeled Gulf Arabs set up shop in Kosovo after the 1999 war to rebuild destroyed mosques and convert, so to speak, liberal and moderate Albanian Muslims to the fanatically fundamentalist Wahhabi sect out of Saudi Arabia. If anyone in Kosovo would give Caspi a hard time or worse for being Israeli, it would be someone from that crowd.

Mosque Near Gjilan.jpg
Mosque on the outskirts of Gjlian, Kosovo

“There are people telling me that people from outside are coming here to try to make religion a bit stronger,” he said, “but I don’t have a clue.”

At least they haven't bothered him yet.

“You don’t have any problems with those people?” I said.

“Since I came here,” he said, “nobody has shown any kind of problems against Israel. On the contrary, because everybody here loves the U.S., and they all know that Israel is like a state of the U.S. That is a good thing. Everybody knows the support that Israel gets from the U.S. You don’t need to be well-educated to know that the amount of money Israel gets from the U.S. means Israel owes them a lot. And that’s how it works. When Israelis wanted to do military business with China, they had to cancel it because the U.S. didn’t like it.”

“So you think the primary reason Kosovars like Israel is because of the United States?” I said.

Kosovo Israeli and American Flags.jpg
Albanian, Israeli, and American flags fly together in Gllogovc-Drenas, Kosovo, on the day Kosovo declared independence. (Photo copyright K. Dobruna.)

“No,” he said. “I think it is many things. They had good relations with the Jewish people back in the old days. If you go back 40 or 50 years you will find that there were good relations with the Jewish people, they lived here happily. Also I think it is what happened in 1999. That showed them that Israel cares and wants to help them. And the people who came back here from Israel say that it was amazing, and they are still in contact with the families in Israel. Nobody here is radical. It is a Muslim country, but I think it is a beautiful Muslim country. I think Israel is a more religious country than here.”

“Have you been to Serbia?” I said.

“Yes,” he said. “I was in a Jewish meeting for all of the Balkans about two years ago. I usually don’t go to these kind of meetings because I feel much more an Israeli than a Jew, but I went because I used to work for this company, and my colleague who was also Israeli and was a bit more religious wanted company. So I went to Belgrade and Novi Sad. But since then I haven’t visited. I can tell you honestly I like it better here than in Bosnia and Serbia. I don’t know why. Maybe because I am living here, and what happened, I was a part of it, I don’t know.”

Two Young Women Prizren.jpg
Young Albanian women, Prizren, Kosovo

Caspi's Israeli employee at the Odyssea Bakery around the corner thought I was slightly strange for wanting to interview someone in Prishtina for no reason other than the fact that he is Israeli. Caspi, though, understood.

“I know why it is an interesting story,” he said. “An Israeli business in a Muslim country.”

“It just wouldn’t happen in the Middle East,” I said. “I don’t even think it would happen in Jordan.”

“No,” he said. “It won’t. And that’s the whole point. Religion can co-exist. For example, my girlfriend, you know, I am in love above my head. I want us to be together. I don’t think religion should… I think the opposite, I think religion should integrate.”

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Posted by Michael J. Totten at August 4, 2008 1:02 AM
Comments

"The only country in the entire Middle East that isn't anti-semitic at the government level, the popular level, or both, is the state of Israel."

I don't know if you consider the Maghreb or Anatolia part of the Middle East, but I would definitely say that Morocco, Mauretania, and Turkey are also not anti-semitic at the government level (and not to the same extent as others at the popular level either).

If we include unrecognised countries, I would add Kurdistan and Somaliland to the last, as well as southern (Christian) Sudan.

The highest government levels in Jordan are also not anti-semitic, except when forced to in the name of "Arab unity".

And the non-Shia parts of the Lebanese government are probably less anti-semitic than they could be based on Lebanon's bad luck as being the chosen place from which to attack Israel these days.

Be well!

Posted by: Leauki Author Profile Page at August 4, 2008 4:32 AM

I Love Kosovo...

Most reporters travel the world looking for anti-Americanism and you go looking for pro-Americanism.

Interesting.

Can I have my "Simply That" CD back now??????

Posted by: Freedom Now Author Profile Page at August 4, 2008 4:34 AM

It is interesting to note that the Haggadah was written in a society run by Arab and North Africans Muslims. Unlike Kosovan society, the Spain that the Haggadah was written in was a full and practicing Muslim society.

Islam and practicing Muslims are not, in and of themselves, antithetical to such things.

When I read your posts sometimes Michael you also seem to go out of your way to show the good, non practicing Muslims, and seem to portray all practicing Muslims in a different light. One can be a practicing, non drinking, praying five times a day, fasting for Ramadan non sleeping around Muslim, and still be "one of the good guys".

On the other hand, secular, drinking, non praying, sleeping around Muslims can be bad.

Think of the secular, non practicing PLO, the various secular Kurdish groups who made names for themselves for suicide bombings especially with women.

The fact that you go out of your way to always talk about non practicing Muslims and putting them in the good camp and separating them from practicing Muslims show a bit more about your inability to come to grips with Muslims and Islam than anything else.

I have known many practicing Arab Muslims who have devoted their lives to fighting terrorism and some have paid the ultimate price for their actions. Many of the translators in Iraq, especially in the first couple of years, helping American forces were practicing Arab Muslims who had lived in the West. You don't think what little Arabic communications that get intercepted by the West/USA get translated by second rate Arabic translators from DoD and Department of State schools do you?

Next time you want to bang on about non practicing/non Arabs you need to remember that there are thousands of practicing Arab Muslims working for the USA keeping you and your family safe every day.

Posted by: Marc Author Profile Page at August 4, 2008 8:28 AM

"When I read your posts sometimes Michael you also seem to go out of your way to show the good, non practicing Muslims, and seem to portray all practicing Muslims in a different light."

I don't see that at all. I think he is differentiating between practicing and non-practicing Muslims on the one side and Wahabis and Khomeinists on the other.

I, personally, don't consider a "practicing Wahabi" a practicing Muslim, and a so-called Shiite who puts up gigantic posters of some murderous thug is not practicing Islam either.

Posted by: Leauki Author Profile Page at August 4, 2008 8:38 AM

MJT: Jews and Israelis in Muslim-majority countries are like canaries in coal mines

Yeah, they both wish they could have found a better job somewhere else.

Posted by: Edgar Author Profile Page at August 4, 2008 8:44 AM

Marc: One can be a practicing, non drinking, praying five times a day, fasting for Ramadan non sleeping around Muslim, and still be "one of the good guys".

Yes, Marc, I know. Iraqi Kurdistan is full of people like that. The Arab parts of Iraq are becoming more like that now than they were.

Kosovo is European, so it's different. You probably don't know it, but cranks like Julia Gorin and Andrew Bostom are attacking me because they are certain Kosovo is a "jihad state" like Gaza even though they have never been there and will never go and have no sense of what Albanians are actually like in the real world.

I draw attention to the non-fundamentalist people in Muslim societies because many Westerners assume they do not exist, that every Muslim country on Earth is like Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Afghanistan. Those three countries hog so much media attention and are assumed to be standard, but they aren't. A huge number of people I casually know still think alcohol is banned in the places I visit and that women wear "burkhas." It's ridiculous.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at August 4, 2008 10:08 AM

Leauki: I don't know if you consider the Maghreb or Anatolia part of the Middle East, but I would definitely say that Morocco, Mauretania, and Turkey are also not anti-semitic at the government level (and not to the same extent as others at the popular level either).

If we include unrecognised countries, I would add Kurdistan and Somaliland to the last, as well as southern (Christian) Sudan.

The highest government levels in Jordan are also not anti-semitic, except when forced to in the name of "Arab unity".

And the non-Shia parts of the Lebanese government are probably less anti-semitic than they could be based on Lebanon's bad luck as being the chosen place from which to attack Israel these days.

All true. Turkey and non-Hezbollah Lebanon are certainly better than the rest. I have no idea about Somaliland. All I know about that place is that it's the sane part of Somalia and is defacto independent like Kurdistan.

Still, none of these places -- except Iraqi Kurdistan, which isn't a country -- are like Kosovo on this question.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at August 4, 2008 10:18 AM

MJT: Cranks like Julia Gorin and Andrew Bostom are attacking me because they are certain Kosovo is a "jihad state" like Gaza

The operative word here is "cranks."

Personally, I'm a little surprised at how you approached the topic of moderate Islam in Kosovo in the past few articles. It seems that you started with the assumption that people believe that this part of the world is filled with crazed Islamists, then sought to dispel that notion.

A major theme in your writing seems to be challenging a widely held notion about another place or culture (e.g. that all Iraqis hate Americans).

But with Kosovo I think you're preaching to the converted (for lack of a better metaphor). I doubt most educated Americans seriously believe that any majority-Muslim country is going to be a hotbed of violence and terrorism.

As for this article specifically: it's not a secret that Israelis are welcome in many Muslim countries. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that the in most of them they wouldn't be in danger. The main reason you don't see them is because of visa restrictions. I might be surprised to hear of an Israeli cafe in Malaysia or Kazakhstan, but not because of the danger.

Posted by: Edgar Author Profile Page at August 4, 2008 2:14 PM

But with Kosovo I think you're preaching to the converted (for lack of a better metaphor). I doubt most educated Americans seriously believe that any majority-Muslim country is going to be a hotbed of violence and terrorism.

Edgar,
Serbs are very, very, very efficient propagandists. You search for "Kosovo Jihad" and you will know what I am talking about. The reasoning goes that if Serbs "we're fighting Jihadists" than they should get a medal, not a "Nazi" label. Here's their latest press release:

"Bishop ARTEMIJE of Kosovo Protests Bush Meeting with 'Terrorist, War Criminal, and Racketeer' Hashim Thaci; Demands Accountability for Harvest of Organs from Living Serb Christians"
'...Particularly targeted for destruction have been crosses and icons of Our Lord Jesus Christ and the saints, giving proof to the Islamic jihad ferocity that motivates these attacks.'

http://www.foxbusiness.com/story/bishop-artemije-kosovo-protests-bush-meeting-terrorist-war-criminal-racketeer/

Micheal, how was his business doing? I hope he makes a fortune, he truly deserves it for breaking with conventional wisdom.

Posted by: nameless-fool Author Profile Page at August 4, 2008 3:06 PM

Nameless Fool,

I didn't ask Caspi how much money he's making, but he did tell me he's expanding into Macedonia and Montenegro. So he must be doing well.

His bakery/cafe was always full during the day, and his bistro was always full at night.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at August 4, 2008 3:09 PM

Mr. Totten- thank you very much for this article and your other recent articles about Kosovo. There is so much misconception and distortions about Kosovo and the entire conflict surrounding that area that I feel it's quite important that some real facts be shown the light of day. Keep up the great work!

Posted by: Sharmuta Author Profile Page at August 4, 2008 7:15 PM

"Sharmuta"?

Someone with low self-esteem, perhaps?

Posted by: Edgar Author Profile Page at August 4, 2008 9:00 PM

Interesting. Kosovo sounds cool. Now if these Israelis tried opening a coffee house in your average American university town, how long would it take for the palestinians and their Leftwing goons to drive them out on a rail. Not long.

Posted by: carlos Author Profile Page at August 4, 2008 9:02 PM

I understand that Totten has become a bit of a celebrity for his travelogues and human-interest stories in Iraq and elsewhere in the Muslim world. He has also convinced himself and attempts to persuade his readers that, to put it colloquially, "Muslims aren't that bad once you get to know them".

Yes, we all know Muslims who are polite, hospitable, and ostensibly peace-loving people. Statistically, perhaps 90% fall into this group. That still leaves over 100 million Muslims who actively/passively participate in the global jihad or, as the recent survey of Muslim university students in Britain attests, identify ideologically with the aims and tenets of radical Islam, i.e., sharia, misogyny, violence against non-Muslims, etc.

This is the problem with the kind of anecdotal evidence Totten regularly presents to advance his viewpoint.

Caspi's situation is not unique. History is littered with examples of Jews being tolerated as a dhimmi minority in Muslim controlled states. Even blood-thirsty Hamas has said that the Jews who lived in Palestine before Independence could remain in a future Hamastan.

There must be someone after all, to pay the jizya.

Posted by: Charles Martel Author Profile Page at August 4, 2008 9:28 PM

Charles Martel: He has also convinced himself and attempts to persuade his readers that, to put it colloquially, "Muslims aren't that bad once you get to know them".

Well, he's obviously not doing a very good job of persuading some readers.

Totten isn't that bad once you get to know him either.

Posted by: Edgar Author Profile Page at August 4, 2008 9:53 PM

Charles Martel: There must be someone after all, to pay the jizya.

Geez, Charles. What the hell are you talking about? There is no jizya in Kosovo.

And the history of the Holocaust in Kosovo and Albania is not an "anecdote."

History is littered with examples of Jews being tolerated as a dhimmi minority in Muslim controlled states.

Caspi isn't a dhimmi. You obviously don't know what a dhimmi even is.

Yes, we all know Muslims who are polite, hospitable, and ostensibly peace-loving people. Statistically, perhaps 90% fall into this group. That still leaves over 100 million Muslims who actively/passively participate in the global jihad or, as the recent survey of Muslim university students in Britain attests, identify ideologically with the aims and tenets of radical Islam, i.e., sharia, misogyny, violence against non-Muslims, etc.

That sounds about right. But those 10 percent are not evenly distributed. There are very few in Kosovo while more than half the population of Gaza is made up of these people.

"Muslims aren't that bad once you get to know them".

Hezbollah is.

You obviously haven't read all my material.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at August 4, 2008 9:58 PM

This Martel guy looks he just came from Julia Gorin's site. Charles, she mentions comedy upfront so you are warned.

FYI: In July 5th 1943, King Zog (a Muslim I believe although his son's name is Leka) offered 150,000 hectares to settle about 200,000 Jews in Albania with "full civil rights." [what was happening to Jews in 1943?]

That is a fact, and he even met with "a representative of the Jewish board of Deputies named Brotman" but he was told by the Powers that King Zog would not return to Albania. He wanted to do it for the jizya too? If Albanians were so 'Muslim' why would he want to bring 200,000 Jews which could become a million within 2-3 generations? Why not offer that land to Christians from somewhere?

Here's the source Charles:
books.google.com/books?id=P3knunC7z_oC&pg=PA258&dq=king+zog+jews+brotman&sig=ACfU3U1mqphJ_3hI2hoGjzV7ushouOnTSg

Owen Paterson: Albania in Occupation and War. Published by I.B.Tauris
ISBN 1845111044, 9781845111045 Page 258.

Posted by: nameless-fool Author Profile Page at August 4, 2008 11:15 PM

This Martel guy looks he just came from Julia Gorin's site.

She has never linked to my articles on this site. I would be very surprised if she linked to this one. Everything I have documented makes her look like a moron.

She should actually go to Kosovo and see for herself, but she won't.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at August 4, 2008 11:18 PM

There is no question that there exist people who identify themselves as muslims but disagree with the supremacism which is inherent in the texts of islam and the example of their "prophet". A significant problem, for non-muslims, is that the non-supremacists are defined (correctly), within islam, as impious, by their very disagreement. A further problem is that they themselves may change their views, or their children may easily adopt the muslim supremacism which is central to islam. That is apparently occurring in the UK, as "Asian" muslim children of immigrants become more devout than their parents.

This is a nicely written and interesting article, but it has a feel of propaganda to it. Or more accurately, of the author, a generally bright and honest guy, having swallowed some sugarcoated stories. Bostom is not a "crank". I daresay he knows far more about the history of islam than Mr. Totten. I have a strong impression that the Albanians told Mr. Totten what they thought is in their best interest. Further, any reliance for truth about islam, from Steven Schwartz, is a mistake. He is a convert to sufi islam who often spreads the misleading religion-of-peace-hijacked-by-misunderstanderers meme. Additionally, Mr. Caspi, merely because he is an israeli, does not possess any great wisdom nor any knowledge, about islam. Many Israelis, especially the "leftists", know less about islam and its history than americans do. That he sees the conflict over the Holy Land as a "national" conflict over land and "occupation"/ownership (and thereby implies an acceptance of an arab/"Palestinian" national right to the Holy Land) does not, at all, mean that muslims, in any significant number, agree that Israel has a right to exist as a secure, independent and non-muslim country, free from threat. Nor does his being in-love with a muslim Kosovar female add to any credibility as a clear-thinking analyst.

I would have liked to have seen Mr. Totten carefully interview several imams of mosques in Kosovo, both "indigenous" and those trained in foreign countries.

What do the imams say in their Friday khutbas? How do the congregations respond?

Posted by: del Author Profile Page at August 4, 2008 11:35 PM

It's always great to read these stories about muslim nations that are the complete opposite of everything else we in the US hear every day.

Muslims drinking booze at a Jewish Bar?

Well. Knock me over with a feather.

Great post Mr. Totten, thanks.

Posted by: Tman Author Profile Page at August 4, 2008 11:36 PM

nameless-fool,

In 1943, King Zog was not in power in Albania. I don't know if he really made the offer you quote, but he was in no position to carry it out. Albania had been conquered by fascist Italy and was soon to be occupied by Nazi Germany, after the Italian fascists were dismissed from power by the King of Italy. King Zog was a muslim who married a Roman Catholic. Earlier, Zog had imitated Turkey's Kemal Ataturk, to some extent, by abolishing sharia in Albania and replacing it with secular law. To argue or think that Zog was a pious muslim and an authentic representative or practitioner of islam and its message, is to be very confused.

Posted by: del Author Profile Page at August 5, 2008 12:08 AM

Del: I have a strong impression that the Albanians told Mr. Totten what they thought is in their best interest.

Based on what?

Why do they fly the American flag? Why did they fly the Israeli flag when they declared independece? If Kosovo is hostile to Israel, why hasn't Caspi had any problems?

Bostom is not a "crank". I daresay he knows far more about the history of islam than Mr. Totten.

He knows a heck of a lot less about Kosovo than I do, of that I know as a fact. He and I argued via email while I was there. He described a place that does not exist. I invited him to join me, but he refused. He is not to be taken seriously on this topic.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at August 5, 2008 12:21 AM

I found this article fascinating from the Jewish-Israel perspective. Some hints to intra-Jewish/ Israeli debates, tensions, and sociological phenomena are alluded to in the Caspi interview, including the following points:

1. Young Israelis trying their luck abroad.

Leaving the country was sternly looked down upon by Israeli society during the first 30 years of its existence. There is even a deragatory word for such people called "yored". Back in the 1970s, former PM Rabin (RIP) called such folks with a different infamous epithet. Now, Israelis who "make it" abroad are held in high esteem. This is due to the country changing from a socially-oriented, close-knit, and small income-gap society to a capitalistic and individualistic place highly influenced by American culture.

2. Israelis who feel more Israeli than Jewish.

In some polls, a significant number (I don't recall the exact %) of Israelis feel this way. One conclusion is that Israel succeeded in becoming a "nation among nations" - a long-term goal of Zionism, but failed with Jewish education. This poses an interesting question: Can an Israel nominally connected to Jewish values and identity remain attractive to Jews inside and outside Israel? If Israel becomes a second-rate version of America devoid of a minimal level of Jewish character, then does it makes sense to leave for the first rate version? The classic "Jewish State/ State of the Jews" tension is what I'm referring to here.

3. The correlation between a secular-liberal worldview and intermarriage in the Jewish world.

At least 50% of Jewish Americans marry spouses of other faiths. Jews are essentially dissapearing because of this act of free choice in combination with the rigid rules of Judaism and the disagreements on who is Jewish within the religious establishments. Most secular Israelis get married to other Jews because of proximity, but here we see Caspi falling in love with a woman from outside the faith. It's also interesting to speculate on the correlation between a politically left-wing worldview, the strength of Jewish identity and tradition, and which faith one marries into.

Overall, one conclusion that I arrive at is that some small, unique ethinic groups need their own territory to survive and thrive in, because otherwise the individual members will deplete the community defacto by the results of their secular worldview and personal choices.

Posted by: supermontoya Author Profile Page at August 5, 2008 12:42 AM

MJT: She should actually go to Kosovo and see for herself, but she won't.

I invited him to join me, but he refused.

Then again, these people probably have day jobs. Doesn't seem entirely fair to challenge them to fly over to Kosovo to meet you, and then call them closed-minded when they refuse.

Posted by: Edgar Author Profile Page at August 5, 2008 1:08 AM

Hi Michael,

As an Albanian I would like to thank you as one of the few Western journalists that took the time to go in Kosova and see for himself and dispel the myths of "Albanian jihad" that have been so much propagated by the Serbian propaganda machine. My personal opinion would be that Albanians should be neither anti-Semite nor anti-Arab and that hopefully peace prevails in the Middle East for the benefit of the common people there.

On the relationship between Albanian and Jewish people, one towering figure that often doesn't get the credit he deserves in strengthening the feelings of mutual respect is without doubt that of Norbert Jokl.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norbert_Jokl

Norbert Jokl was a Jewish-Austrian Albanologist that has been called the father of Albanology and contributed greatly to the study and classification of Albanian language and followed the work of another Albanologist Franz Nopcsa (also known in the scientific circles in Europe as one of the first paleontologists to study the dinosaurs - among other things). Nopcsa himself was a very colorful figure, but that is a story for another time.

Norbert Jokl was awarded in 1937 the highest medal of the Kingdom of Albania, "The Order of Scanderbeg" in respect for his distinguished work. It was his only and last time to visit Albania, and his numerous friends and admirers among Albania's intellectual elites, during the celebrations of the 25th anniversary of the Albania's independence. In March 1938 Hitler annexed Austria and declared the Anschluss, and in May 20 1938, he was fired from his job as head of the Albanology department of the University of Vienna and prohibited from even entering the University premises. In May 22 1938, in a passionate letter to the Albanian Parliament and to the King, one of Albania's best poets - Lazgush Poradeci, http://www.albanianliterature.com/authors2/AA2-13.html - urged them to take every measure to help Jokl, and to bring him to Albania. "In the deep sorrow of humanity - Poradeci writes - in front of these unstoppable acts (ie deportation as many believed at the time of the Jewry of Germany and Austria), takes part also our nation and Government, with a heavy heart full of pain, love, respect and gratitude, for the misfortune of the Jews of Austria hits this time without mercy one of the most beloved and respected supporters of our independence, prof Norbert Jokl of the Vienna University, a great Albanologist of our days." http://forumihorizont.com/printthread.php3?s=32ecfcb08695de864482bd912c3d4495&threadid=2089

Alas it was not meant to be. Jokl had wanted to bring to Albania his extensive library, but it was prevented to do so and Albania would soon be engulfed in the turmoil of WWII and invaded by Mussolini in April 1939. The efforts to bring Jokl to Albania nevertheless continued. In September 1939, Father Gjergj Fishta - http://www.albanianliterature.com/authors2/AA2-04.html, sent a letter to the Italian Viceroy in Albania, Francesco Iacomoni, to help Jokl come to Albania. In October 1941, another Albanian writer and linguist, Ernest Koliqi, that was also serving as a Minister of Education in the Government that the Italian Fascists had set up in Tirana, sends a letter to the Albanian consul in Vienna, Nikolle Rrota, notifying him that he had appointed Jokl as the head organizer of the libraries of Albania (a position created for Jokl).

He was denied however permission to travel to Albania and was instead arrested by Gestapo in March 1942 and perished in the concentration camps. Of his extended library of nearly 3000 books, only 200 survived. Perhaps it was his sad fate that many Albanians suffered as a personal loss, that made them even more sympathetic and determined to save Jewish lives and this support extended across the society, from simple people that hid the Jews in their homes (like my grandfather's brother did), to the Quisling Government officials that forged documents and deceived the Germans. It was a support across the religions (for example, Poradeci was an Orthodox Christian, Fishta was a Catholic priest and Koliqi was a Muslim). And I believe it was not because we are "better" Muslims, practicing a more "beautiful" Islam, but because it was the humane thing to do - to help another human being in need. For that I'm glad and thankful to that generation of Albanians.

Posted by: dritan Author Profile Page at August 5, 2008 1:14 AM

"you need to remember that there are thousands of practicing Arab Muslims working for the USA keeping you and your family safe every day."

And then there's Hezbollah, glorifying a savage antisemitic child-killer like Kuntar.

Posted by: Gary Rosen Author Profile Page at August 5, 2008 1:15 AM

Edgar: Then again, these people probably have day jobs. Doesn't seem entirely fair to challenge them to fly over to Kosovo to meet you, and then call them closed-minded when they refuse.

They are both professional writers who write about Kosovo. They need to go there and do their job properly for the same reason someone who writes about Iraq for a living needs to go to Iraq.

Saying Julia Gorin should to go to Kosovo is not like saying you should go to Kosovo.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at August 5, 2008 1:46 AM

Excellent and Encouraging article.

This is totally new information to me thanks,

Remi Visser, Netherlands

-- BTW Great to see all these American flags on the European continent, if it wasn't for America the Balkan would still be at war...

Posted by: remivisser Author Profile Page at August 5, 2008 5:26 AM

I guess maybe there are some differences here in just exactly what is a "moderate Muslim" and what an extremist is.

Someone who drinks and doesnt pray isnt a "moderate Muslim" they are a non practicing Muslim.

A "moderate Muslim" is someone who follows the requirements of Islam, but doesnt force them on others.

An "extremist Muslim" would be a Muslim who takes his faith to the extreme and feels like they have a right to impose their view of the religion on others.

The Muslims you describe in Kosova, like the ones I knew in Bosnia, were mostly non practicing Muslims. A good example here in the West would be to compare them to "cultural Catholics". These are people who have no real hold on the religion other than vague cultural tradition.

They are no more likely to be "good Muslims" than moderate Muslims. Lets keep in mind that until the early 1990s, most Middle Eastern terrorist groups were secular/leftist/non practicing Muslims.

As a matter of fact, until 2001, for most Westerners, the classic image of a terrorist was based on the secular/non practicing Middle Eastern terrorist.

People like "Del" and "Charles Martel" are people who hate Islam and therefor will hate all Muslims, practicing or non practicing. For them the only "Muslim" that they can abide is one that has completely denied all vestiges of their faith.

They are like classic anti-semites who see Muslim conspiracies in everything. The Muslims are out to rule the world, they are the base of all evil.

These people are the pefect counterparts to the extremists in AQ and Hezb'Allah, and they dont even realise it.

Posted by: Marc Author Profile Page at August 5, 2008 6:27 AM

King Zog was a muslim who married a Roman Catholic. Earlier, Zog had imitated Turkey's Kemal Ataturk, to some extent, by abolishing sharia in Albania and replacing it with secular law. To argue or think that Zog was a pious muslim and an authentic representative or practitioner of islam and its message, is to be very confused.


Del, I think I said that the Jewish representative was told that as things appear it's unlikely that Zog would ever return (communists took over the entire Balkans, minus Greece that was saved by the British.) Zog apparently thought he would and obviously hoped to, so he made the offer. That in itself suggests something, as no King would want 15-20% of the population (Jews in this case) to be in a war with the other 80%. Let's not forget that Jews have suffered quite a bit under Christianity.

The idea that every 'Muslim's' loyalties lie with some Mullah in Saudi Arabia is ridiculous. Zog, while nominally Muslim didn't care and his people didn't care either. Zog's power base, like all the Albanians' back then, was his clan and region, Mati. It's very common for Albanian clans to be divided in 2 religions and no cared, back than they would still kill for and die for each other. The religion can be changed in 30 minutes, your blood cannot. Does a Muslim automatically become an angel if they convert to Christianity? Nope.

No one, Michael included, is saying that they aren't any extremists. They are in USA (John Lindh and Azam 'the American' for example were 100% American) in UK, France, and everywhere else. In Kosovo too they are trying and they have all the money in the world, in a poor state. If it wasn't for the Western PC nonsense, the Kosovo government would have kicked them out and outlawed veils, but they have to act like the EU countries now. If one wannabe Jihadi does something stupid it does mean that Kosovo or the 'Albanians' went 'Jihad.' If the government does not nothing, and we see thousands of them marching with 'Behead all infidels' signs then we have a problem.

I know many of you feel bad now since you've staken your claim in "Kosovo is Al Qaeda's base" but who's fault is it?

Posted by: nameless-fool Author Profile Page at August 5, 2008 7:40 AM

Hi Michael,

I enjoyed this one. Thanks a bunch.

Part of me wonders if you are not being taken in by some of your interlocutors. I have been warned over and over again by experienced Balkanologists to watch out for this, and it strikes me that many of your interviewees seem to fit your particular "angle" a bit too perfectly. Professor Xhabir Hamiti in particular struck me as suspiciously "aligned" with your line.

It is easy to see how it happens. A quick Google of your name gives your interlocutor your blog and a ready made primer in "How to please the hell out Michael Totten".

You are an experienced journalist, so my presumption is that you could sense it, but I have to ask: Have you felt any suspicion that any of these people were trying to manipulate you or perhaps presenting a rosy picture tailor made to your tastes well known political positions?

Also, are we going to hear from Kosovo Serbs or Roma? I would love to hear from the Serbian counterpart to Professor Hamiti.

The Israeli guy living in Pristina is a good story, but careful of falling into using the Happy Jews propaganda line we sometimes get from Iran. Israelis are pouring billions into Serbia and I know several living very happily in Belgrade. It tells us nothing however of the real dangers here from renegade intelligence services and ultra-nationalists.

Now it seems to me that part of your point in your Kosovo reports is to rebut Julia Gorin and others who are arguing that Kosovo is some sort of Islamist staging post.

In a certain sense though, your rebuttal merely says "I went there, spoke to people (including an Israeli). I saw no Jihadi's nor had the people I spoke to heard of anything too serious."

That in itself is not really a rebuttal at all.

It reminds me of a speech by Dr Jim Hoare, Former British Charges D’Affaires in North Korea 2000-2, made to the North Korea round table at Policy Exchange. He was asserting that North Korea was militarily much weaker than it appeared. His evidence? He had "driven all over" North Korea and he had only seen a few soldiers.

You would laugh long and hard at someone who told you they had spent a weekend in Belgrade and but that they had not seen nor heard anything of ultra-nationalists, so it must all rubbish.

Your trip to Kosovo tells us many useful and interesting things, but it does not rebut claims about an Islamic risk there, not does it tell us about the plight of non-Albanian minorities.

It presents a very positive picture of Kosovo, but since your depiction of Serbia was at odds with what I experience it to be as a resident foreigner, forgive me for being a bit suspicious of this Lake Wobegone Kosovo that you present here, a Kosovo that fits so perfectly your transparent agenda.

Posted by: Limbic Author Profile Page at August 5, 2008 8:51 AM

"It tells us nothing however of the real dangers here from renegade intelligence services and ultra-nationalists."

Yes, and I am sure Michael would have mentioned it if he had found American and Israeli flags flying anywhere in Serbia.

There is the "happy Jews like in Iran" danger you describe. But those "happy Jews" rarely see their Muslim neighbours fly the Israeli flag and they also not coming to the country from Israel.

Scenes like the Israeli opening a bar and the Muslim flying an Israeli flag I can imagine in Albania, Kosovo, Turkey, perhaps Morocco, perhaps Mauretania, probably in Somaliland, and perhaps in Iraqi Kurdistan.

I somehow wonder if an Israeli could move to Belgrade and open a business and see an orthodox neighbour fly an Israeli flag. Perhaps... but now that the Zionists are behind Kosovo's independence, it seems less likely, certainly.

Albanian Muslims are the worst Jews!

Posted by: Leauki Author Profile Page at August 5, 2008 9:22 AM

Marc at August 4, 2008 8:28 AM:

>It is interesting to note that the Haggadah was written in a society run by Arab and North Africans Muslims.

Is that so? According to Wikipedia, the compilation of the Haggadah (2nd to 4th centuries CE) predates Islam. As for the Sarajevo Haggadah manuscript, it originated "in Barcelona around 1350". The Christian County of Barcelona dates from the 9th century.

Posted by: Marzo Author Profile Page at August 5, 2008 9:30 AM

Perhaps someone can educate me in on this.

I can understand why Paleocons and other non-interventionists would want to exaggerate the jihadist activity in Kosovo but why are journalists associated with neoconservative publications (Frontpagemag, National Review) doing it? Isn't it kind of shooting themselves in the foot.

Posted by: Daniel E. Author Profile Page at August 5, 2008 10:36 AM

Limbic: You are an experienced journalist, so my presumption is that you could sense it, but I have to ask: Have you felt any suspicion that any of these people were trying to manipulate you or perhaps presenting a rosy picture tailor made to your tastes well known political positions?

I addressed that in the article itself.

No, I do not think they were feeding me any line. I knew about this phenomenon before I even went there.

You'll notice that no Albanians are complaining or correcting me.

If I wrote this article about an Arab country (which would be impossible, there are no Israeli-owned bars where Muslims like to drink booze), I would have Arab commenters howling from the rooftops in my comments section and calling me a moron.

Your trip to Kosovo tells us many useful and interesting things, but it does not rebut claims about an Islamic risk there, not does it tell us about the plight of non-Albanian minorities.

Agreed. I covered the Islamist risk elsewhere. I agree it exists. That's why I asked people about it and wrote about it. But that risk isn't as great in Kosovo as some people think, while in Macedonia it is greater.

I will deal with non-Albanian minorities later. I can't tackle everything in one article.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at August 5, 2008 11:12 AM

Oh, and by the way Limbic, another source for this phenemenon is the Israeli Ambassador to Albania, whom I met in Tirana.

I will get to that later, as well.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at August 5, 2008 11:24 AM

Thanks for the response Michael.

Just for the record, I am not disputing that Kosovars are pro-Israeli. In fact I am delighted to see it.

My comments were more general and somewhat misleadingly refer mostly to previous discussions reported in previous dispatches, so apologies for any mix up.

It might surpise you and others here to know that I am an unapologetic pro-Israeli and pro-American myself. This angle on Kosovo came as an unexpected and pleasant surprise.

Posted by: Jonathan Davis Author Profile Page at August 5, 2008 11:46 AM

I think you (and Yad Vashem) have been somewhat deceived as to the behaviour of Albanians during the Holocaust.

Alabanians were under the orbit of Italy (unlike say, Poland, under the orbit of Germany) and so under little pressure to deport Jews. Albania did not so much protect Jews as simply (like Italy) behave mostly inertly.

Like Bulgaria, Albania was a fascist ally and, like Bulgaria, the same Albania which failed to turn over "its own" Jews enthusiastically deported Jews from conquered "greater Albania" areas like Kosovo, just as Bulgaria deported 5,000 Jews from conquered "greater Bulgaria".

Some of the Kosovar Jews saved were not because of Albanian heroism but only because of a technical train malfunction.

The head of Kosovar Jewry during the war has publicly objected to what he has termed the "revisionism" of whitewashing Albanian participation in the Holocaust. (I will try to find an online link and post it later.)

Finally, the numbers involved are small - barely 200 Jews in Albania proper, of whom most left after the war.

Albania, like Bulgaria and Italy and France, had a mixed record of greys with respect to Holocaust collaboration. The myth of saintly-white Albanian behaviour during the Holocaust is as false as the myth of saintly Andalusian Islam during the ostensible "Golden Age".

I suspect the reason for such myth is a tendency to lionise any Muslims displaying occasional humane views of Jews. But then, so did some Germans. They weren't saints, either.

Posted by: LetFreedomRing Author Profile Page at August 5, 2008 2:05 PM

I dispute Leauki's assertions about Morocco and Turkey.

While they are definitely far from the virulent anti-Semitism of other Muslim countries, they're no paradise. I know Moroccan and Turkish Jews sufficiently bitter about their mis-treatment to wish never to set foot in those countries again.

Morocco's one quarter-million (!) Jews didn't flee the country because of a lack of ant-Semitism.

Posted by: LetFreedomRing Author Profile Page at August 5, 2008 2:11 PM

LetFreedomRing: Like Bulgaria, Albania was a fascist ally and, like Bulgaria, the same Albania which failed to turn over "its own" Jews enthusiastically deported Jews from conquered "greater Albania" areas like Kosovo, just as Bulgaria deported 5,000 Jews from conquered "greater Bulgaria".

In Tirana I met the Israeli Ambassador to Albania and Yad Vashem's Chief Historian who was visiting from Jerusalem. They say your version of history is wrong. I'm not an expert on this, but I'm going to have to trust they know what they're talking about more than an anonymous person in a comments section on a blog. No offense, but it can't be any other way.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at August 5, 2008 2:16 PM

Michael, here are two more references:

http://www.islam-watch.org/Serbianna/Albanian_role_holocaust.htm
http://www.serbianna.com/columns/savich/060.shtml

I haven't yet reviewed them thoroughly myself, nor whether Savich has any sort of agenda.

But it supports my point that the Albanian history was (again, like Italy's and France's) neither balck nor white - but the Albanians were certainly NOT unblemished saints.

Posted by: LetFreedomRing Author Profile Page at August 5, 2008 3:19 PM

Another reference:

http://www.serbianna.com/columns/savich/006.shtml

Again, I admit I don't know whether Savich has an agenda.

Posted by: LetFreedomRing Author Profile Page at August 5, 2008 3:29 PM

LeFreedomRing: the Albanians were certainly NOT unblemished saints.

Well, obviously. Nobody is. Whether it was all that effective or not, the Nazi Skanderbeg Division did exist for a while. That's why I included it in this article. If I wanted to foolishly describe Albanians as "unblemished saints," I would not have drawn any attention to the Albanian Nazi collaborators.

I trust a chief Israel historian of the Holocaust and the Israeli ambassador to Albania more than I trust Savich at Serbianna, but you can believe whoever you want.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at August 5, 2008 4:13 PM

Kosovo and America: an alliance unlike any other

http://www.newkosovareport.com/200808021093/Views-and-Analysis/Kosovo-and-America-an-alliance-unlike-any-other.html

Posted by: TrueAlbo2006 Author Profile Page at August 5, 2008 6:18 PM

http://www.tenc.net/articles/thompson/rootsof.htm
"Cedomir Prlincevic, head of the Jewish community in Priština and an executive of the provincial archives, has explained to Emperor's Clothes that the Jews who were not murdered outright were sent by the Skanderbeg division to the German death camps Treblinka and Bergen-Belsen. One train, on its way to the latter camp, took the wrong track and was intercepted by advancing Russian soldiers. According to Mr. Prlincevic, were it not for that fortunate detour, the entire Jewish population of Kosovo would have been eliminated. Although KLA supporters now claim that no Jews were killed in Kosovo and that Jews were sheltered by the Kosovo Albanians, such claims are false and should be treated the same way we would treat other Holocaust denials."

Posted by: LetFreedomRing Author Profile Page at August 5, 2008 7:19 PM

Example of Albanian anti-Semitism:
http://www.humanitas-international.org/showcase/chronography/timebase/1935tbse.htm
1935 June 10 Albania announces that only Jews with capital to invest are welcome.

Posted by: LetFreedomRing Author Profile Page at August 5, 2008 7:21 PM

Serb antisemitism:
source:Dnevnik
Grave anti-Semitic incident in Serbia - Yariv Avram and Bojana Petković were beaten by the hooligans wearing Nazi t-shirts

Bojana Petković and Yariv Avram were beaten by the hooligans wearing Nazi t-shirts and chanting Nazi songs when they attempted to attend a concert. Instead of entering the stadium, they ran into a group of skinheads on the stairs. “They surrounded us chanting ‘Auschwitz’ at me. They yelled at me that I am a bloody Jew and asked me whether I knew what my country did to theirs. They shouted: go to Germany. Then my friend stepped in and we started running, but they caught up with us and started beating us with all their might. They hit me on the head, one of them hit my eye. They hit my friend too. It was horrible”, Yariv Avram recounted.

“We started running, but they surrounded us again and started beating us. Yariv was hit on the head and body, and they kicked me around. We somehow managed to reach the police”, Bojana Petković said. Yariv Avram now has a stitched forehead, while his friend is covered in bruises. The Israeli embassy in Belgrade has been notified of the incident.

The two Tel Aviv stock exchange employees said they were surprised by the behavior displayed by the Belgrade police. “They told me this was a skinhead in a black leather jacket. That means they know him, they described him to me. After that we went to the medical emergency ward, while the police did not react at all. They took our data and that was all”, Bojana Petković said. “I had a good time here, and met a lot of wonderful people. After this, though, I’m not sure I’ll ever come back to your country, and I can’t recommend anyone else to do that either”, Yariv Avram said.

The MUP for its part dismisses the notion that they did not react while the attack on an Israeli citizen took place in Belgrade. The police say the Israelis approached the police during the concert and told them they were attacked by a bald and tattooed man, but would not say who exactly. The police also say they insisted on calling an ambulance, since Avram was injured, but he refused. In spite of this, the ambulance was called and took the pair to the Emergency unit, where Avram was diagnosed with a light injury. MUP also said that an investigative police team went to the Emergency unit, but did not find the Israelis there.

Serbia’s Alliance of Jewish municipalities has received the news ofan attack on two Israelis citizens expressing indignation. “What is particularly worrying is that the young skinheads shouted anti-Jewish slogans and insults aimed at the ethnicity of the two young people”, the Alliance’s statement reads.

Petar Lađević: We will do all that needs to be done

After the news on the incident was broadcast on B92 on Monday, the government’s director of the Human and Minority Rights service Petar Lađević visited Ljiljana Petković, Bojana Petković’s mother, and informed her that all was being done in order to arrest the attackers. Afterwards, Belgrade police inspectors also came to the house, working on identifying the hooligans.

“Anti-Semitism is developing”

Former deputy prime minister and psychologist Žarko Korać told B92 that the Serbian society is paying the price in the shape of the rise of xenophobia and chauvinism, which started in the 1980’s. “For a long time we lied to ourselves that there is no anti-Semitism in Serbia. But, we failed to recognize the developing anti-Semitic tendencies, the existence of the Skinheads, and other such organizations, as well as the glorification of Nikolaj Velimirović, a SPC vladika, who held strong anti-Semitic views and supported Dimitrije Ljotić, who was a Nazi in the WW2. There is an atmosphere where a group of young irresponsible men with psychopathic tendencies feel free to lynch any Israeli they come across”, he said.

“Our society will have to sober up and realize that the fact the vast majority of people are not anti-Semitic does not mean there aren’t these very aggressive anti-Semitic groups in the society itself. They understand the public’s silence as a signal to continue. When the Novi Sad University incident occurred, the public reacted, as well as the courts, and perpetrators were punished. The question that needs to be answered here is will we treat this latest incident as a folly by a group of young men, or if we will, as a society, start openly discussing the fact anti-Semitism is taking some sort of root even in this country. We need to fight this on the political front as well, and it needs to be said that the latest crisis in the Middle East might have added to this – since some so-called intellectuals have called Israel a ‘genocidal entity’”, Korać concluded.

Attacks and organizations

Anti-Semitic, racist and ethnically motivated incidents are trademark of the skinheads and other similar racist groups. The latest attack that was recorded by the media happened mid-July, when a group of hooligans attack a group of Roma in Ripanj, near Belgrade.

It is not uncommon for the members of these extremist organizations to use the internet to publicly brag about their crimes. The Vojvodina assembly has, with the police’s cooperation, decided to compile a list of extremist organizations and has asked the government of Serbia to ban them. The government has not so far responded to these demands. The Novi Sad police has determined that the skinheads constitute a Neo-Nazi organization.

Posted by: TrueAlbo2006 Author Profile Page at August 5, 2008 7:31 PM

MJT,

fwiw.

In reference to my skepticism about the truthfulness of Albanians, or Pristina residents, you interviewed, you ask:

"Based on what?"

Here are a few reasons:

1) It seems that they told you what you were looking for. You did not report anything which contradicted the story that you were clearly aiming for, that is, 'hey everyone...see our allies the moderate muslims'.

2) The gushing enthusiasm for your column from what are clearly Albanian activist/propagandists, such as "nameless-fool" here and "medauraxxxx" on littlegreenfootballs.

3)You did not even acknowledge that Serbs in Kosovo have been ethnically cleansed and churches and monasteries destroyed. To a naive reader of your column, Kosovo has always been Albanian.

4) You chose to use Steven Schwartz to back up your discussion. Steven Schwartz is a propagandist for islam who generally tries to deflect criticism of islam onto the wahhabi boogeymen, in order to imply non-wahhabis are just fine.

5) Another of the Kosovar Albanians writes "We are Muslims, but not really. We have respect for Israelis because of the U.S. I have good friends from there." Other commenters here and at LGF (e.g. Robert Spencer) have focused on his first sentence as well. To the extent that it is even real, much of the unusual-for-muslims attitude you have found seem ascribable to this "but not really". His following sentence suggests a very shallow support for Israel, and that it is based upon his own perception of what Americans expect him to say.

6) The Israeli, Caspi, is to me hardly a wise man. His analysis of the Israel,Jews/Arab,Muslims conflict, as entirely national, is delusional.

7) I see a general conceit among journalists, both mainstream and freelance, that their travels and interviews and reports tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth. As if they have magical powers which compel those whom they interview to speak truthfully. A similar (but worse) attitude is seen in Jimmy Carter's election-watching. Note: I am exaggerating a little here to make my point...I'm not saying that you are that egotistical. But anyway, was there anything said to you by Albanians (Muslim or Christian), or the Israeli, in Kosovo, which you did not believe?

8) A short trip to a foreign place does not automatically qualify anyone as an expert on that place. In spite of McCain's implication that a visit to Iraq qualifies someone as worth-listening-to, Obama's whirlwind tour of Iraq is unlikely (to me) to have resulted in a better understanding of what happens in Iraq. From this article, what you learned in a visit to a trendy section of Pristina also does not seem reliable to understand Kosovo's history.

You continue: "Why do they fly the American flag? Why did they fly the Israeli flag when they declared independece? If Kosovo is hostile to Israel, why hasn't Caspi had any problems?"

Well. To curry favor and receive generous gifts seems plausible to me. I also did not claim Kosovo is currently hostile to Israel. My suggestion is that they are not as reliable allies as you seem to believe. To the extent that they are allies, it is in spite of islam. If they get that ole-time-islam again, they will not be our allies. Caspi could easily have a problem tomorrow, or the next day. Or maybe not. I'm curious about his woman employee who did not wish to answer any questions. Has she had any problems? Does she fear something?

Posted by: del Author Profile Page at August 5, 2008 9:10 PM

<o?Kosovo is clearly well outside the mainstream of the Middle East. At the same time, it is one of the few countries even in Europe that isn't at least anti-Israel, if not blatantly anti-semitic, at the government or popular level.

This statement has taken leave of its senses. Why do you ruin good articles with these kinds of cheap shots? How many Israeli lives did those Israel-hating European governments save with the 2006 Israel-Hizballah ceasefire, or with one hundred kinds of economic, security, and intelligence cooperative acts this decade and every other decade? Do you have a detailed file on Norway and Denmark's anti-semitic government statements and shipments of weapons to Iran?

Would you really defend this statement?

And popular sentiment in Europe is much more anti-Arab than 'anti-semitic'. I put that in quotes to mock it. Is America anti-semitic because swastikas were painted on my high school gym wall?

Other than that, nothing to complain about, except that I don't trust man-on-the-street methods, even when I agree with them, like here. Kosovars like Israel. Yep.

Oh, wait:

It's strange that a huge number of Christians in Syria support Hezbollah while so many Muslims in Kosovo sympathize with Israel, but that's how it is.

Where are you getting this stuff on pro-Hizballah Christians in Syria? How do you tell the genuine from the self-interested from the coerced?

Posted by: glasnost Author Profile Page at August 5, 2008 9:22 PM

Glasnost: Would you really defend this statement?

Yes.

Have you seen public opinion polls of Europeans about Israel? They are horrifying.

And popular sentiment in Europe is much more anti-Arab than 'anti-semitic'.

That's true, too.

Anyway, I said Europe is anti-Israel, not anti-Semitic, and you must know that is true. Unlike some people, I do actually know the difference although there is sometimes an obvious overlap.

Where are you getting this stuff on pro-Hizballah Christians in Syria?

From reporters I know who work in Syria and were not able to find a single Christian who was willing to repudiate Hezbollah even in private. Even some Christians in Lebanon feel that way, although they aren't the majority. (Hezbollah likes to say they are the majority, but they are lying and they know it.)

Maybe the Syrian Christians feel coerced. Syria is coercive. But why not repudiate them anonymously and in private? I haven't been to Syria, but I do have a decent sense for fishing out when someone is giving me an honest opinion versus a coerced opinion. It's not really that difficult when you're there in person and actually experiencing the conversation, but this kind of nuance gets lost in the quoting. I spoke to a Syrian in Lebanon who gave me an obviously coerced opinion, and I wrote about it at the time.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at August 5, 2008 9:38 PM

Glasnost,

Let me clarify something in this sentence:

Kosovo is clearly well outside the mainstream of the Middle East. At the same time, it is one of the few countries even in Europe that isn't at least anti-Israel, if not blatantly anti-semitic, at the government or popular level.

The words highlighted in bold above were a reference to Middle Eastern countries. I did not mean to imply that the majority in European countries are blatanly anti-Semitic. I was comparing them with Arab countries that are blatantly anti-Semitic. Upon re-reading that sentence, I can see why you thought I meant it differently than I did, and the lack of clarity is my fault. Sorry.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at August 5, 2008 9:46 PM

Great video reporting that I believe Totten's ideology does not allow him to report:

http://tinyurl.com/6lgya4

It seems Totten has gotten either fatigued or bored with Iraq and prefers the "comforts" of the Euro zone.

It was a great theory that if only Saddam could be removed, Iraqis would live free and prosper. Well, now that they are free, they have chosen to kill each other and the US military is powerless to do anything about it. Oh well, as long as we're getting the oil. Oops... even oil production is down five+ years on. What a cluster fuck.

Posted by: Graham Author Profile Page at August 5, 2008 9:53 PM

LetPropagandaRing ,
I see that you posted from Carl Savich and said you're not sure if he is biased or anything? Who are you kidding??

All his propaganda pieces are designed to trash the opposing sides, All of Serbia's neighbors that is.

And then you post a story here and there to show how Albanians are anti-semitic. Forget about Albanians: Only ~ 1500 out of 16000 Jews in Serbia survived, thanks to the great efforts of Serbs with ZBOR, Nedic, Serbian Volunteer Guard, Pecanac etc etc etc who were leading over 100,000 Serb nazi supporters in battles against the partisans, Muslims and Croats. Even Draza Mihailovic who fought the Germans before collaborating them hunted down and sold Jews. And who was the first 'Judenrein' city in the world? Belgrade. Where were the mobile gas chambers first tried in? Serbia.

I can go on and on with the rise in neo-nazism and its links with the Orthodox Church, but that would be to much. Here's a summary http://www.tau.ac.il/Anti-Semitism/asw2005/serbia.htm . I am sure these 'Jews' have been fooled by the Albanians, so thank god for Serb apologists to set things straight.

For the record: Individual Albanians also shielded Italian soldiers from the Germans after Italy surrendered simply because they were asked for shelter, but it's impossible for Albanians to do anything good, just as Scanderbeg must have been a Serb and Mother Teresa a Vlach.

I love it when I see Serb propagandists caught in a lie after lie and only left with a few idiot believers as their country gets smaller and smaller and has the world's fourth oldest population in the world. Be nice to Albanians now, with Russia out thanks to USA, and armed "shiptars", you'll surrender faster than Lazar did in 1389 if you try anything.

Finding bad Albanians doesn't change much, every nation has it's Chetniks, at least Albanians don't sing praises to them.

Posted by: nameless-fool Author Profile Page at August 6, 2008 4:59 AM

"While they are definitely far from the virulent anti-Semitism of other Muslim countries, they're no paradise. I know Moroccan and Turkish Jews sufficiently bitter about their mis-treatment to wish never to set foot in those countries again."

Were any of them victims of government action against Jews? I doubt it.

"Morocco's one quarter-million (!) Jews didn't flee the country because of a lack of ant-Semitism."

Thousands of Jews still live in Morocco. And the King has a Jew in his administration, traditionally.

Morocco and Israel have relations and Morocco accepts Israeli passports.

Morocco has also invited the Jews to come back. (None have done so, of course.)

No, I don't think it is fair to say that Morocco and Turkey have a history of anti-Semitism at the government level.

Posted by: Leauki Author Profile Page at August 6, 2008 8:33 AM

Well, that's it. All this back-and-forth has finally convinced me that both Serbs and Albanians are tremendous war criminals.

Posted by: Edgar Author Profile Page at August 6, 2008 10:45 AM

Del: It seems that they told you what you were looking for.

That doesn't mean they were lying.

You did not report anything which contradicted the story that you were clearly aiming for

I didn't hear anything, not from one single person, that contradicted what I wrote in this piece.

The gushing enthusiasm for your column from what are clearly Albanian activist/propagandists, such as "nameless-fool" here and "medauraxxxx" on littlegreenfootballs.

If what I wrote about Kosovo was wrong, trust me, I'd be getting crap from Albanians. Let's say I wrote this article about Syria. Do you think Syrians in the comment section would gush and say "yes, we love the Jews"? They wouldn't. I guarantee it. If I wrote this about Lebanon I'd also be getting a bunch of crap from Lebanese.

You did not even acknowledge that Serbs in Kosovo have been ethnically cleansed and churches and monasteries destroyed.

Elsewhere, I have. And it will come up again. I can't tackle everything in one article. This article is about an Israeli who is thriving in Kosovo.

I also didn't mention the fact that Serbian Nationalists displaced 90 percent of the Albanian population during the war. It came up elsewhere, though, when it was on topic.

You chose to use Steven Schwartz to back up your discussion.

I credited him with finding a quote. I didn't actually quote him.

Steven Schwartz is a propagandist for islam who generally tries to deflect criticism of islam onto the wahhabi boogeymen, in order to imply non-wahhabis are just fine.

He is a Sufi. Do you expect him to attack his fellow Sufis? He doesn't single out only the Wahhabis as "boogeymen." He doesn't think much of Hezbollah or other radical Shias either.

Another of the Kosovar Albanians writes "We are Muslims, but not really. We have respect for Israelis because of the U.S. I have good friends from there." Other commenters here and at LGF (e.g. Robert Spencer) have focused on his first sentence as well. To the extent that it is even real, much of the unusual-for-muslims attitude you have found seem ascribable to this "but not really".

Agreed, to an extent. I also met real practicing Muslims who like the US a great deal, and they have very good reasons for doing so. Albanian Islam is European, not Arabic, and that makes an enormous difference.

Even so, there are many Muslims in even Iraq who have recently come around to appreciating the US more after facing Al Qaeda and the Mahdi Army. You would be wrong to assume every practicing Muslim is hard-wired to be our enemy forever under all circumstances. It isn't true.

His following sentence suggests a very shallow support for Israel, and that it is based upon his own perception of what Americans expect him to say.

To an extent, yes. Others I quoted said more than that.

The Israeli, Caspi, is to me hardly a wise man.

He could be the biggest fool in the world for all I care. What's striking about him is that he exists in this place. He could not exist in any of the Arab countries I've been to. None of them. He would be deported, jailed, or killed in all of them.

I see a general conceit among journalists, both mainstream and freelance, that their travels and interviews and reports tell the whole truth

I have never claimed to do any such thing. Never.

As if they have magical powers which compel those whom they interview to speak truthfully.

I am well aware that not everyone speaks truthfully. Over and over again I make that clear in my articles, including this one.

was there anything said to you by Albanians (Muslim or Christian), or the Israeli, in Kosovo, which you did not believe?

Absolutely. It happened a lot, actually. I am, of course, unsure about some things I heard, and I know very well that other things I heard were not true.

For example: One Albanian man said the 2004 riots against Serbs were a Serbian trick to make Albanians look bad. That is ridiculous, and of course I didn't quote him.

I also heard from many Albanians that Saudis are paying Albanians to convert to Wahhabism. I don't know if that's true, and it is possible that it isn't. I did quote them saying this because I heard it from so many people, but I noted that it is a rumor. No one I talked to had any evidence that it is true.

As far as Albanians and Jews are concerned, I can verify what these Albanians told me through external sources including Israeli historians and the Israeli Ambassador to Albania. I'm on solid ground here.

A short trip to a foreign place does not automatically qualify anyone as an expert on that place.

I am not an expert on Kosovo and probably never will be. I have never said otherwise.

From this article, what you learned in a visit to a trendy section of Pristina also does not seem reliable to understand Kosovo's history.

I visited more than just a trendy section of Prishtina. I went to many places, sometimes with the United States Army. I also went to Tirana, Albania, and met the president, the former president, and the Israeli Ambassador.

"Why do they fly the American flag? Why did they fly the Israeli flag when they declared independece? If Kosovo is hostile to Israel, why hasn't Caspi had any problems?" Well. To curry favor and receive generous gifts seems plausible to me.

That photo of the Israeli flag wouldn't have been seen by anyone if I hadn't published it. It was not taken by a journalist. It was taken in Central Kosovo by an Albanian woman who emailed it to me after she read my article. I inserted that photo hours after I initially published this. It was not placed in a random small town to curry favor. If it were placed there to curry favor, it would have been placed in front of a pack of journalists in Prishtina. But that's not what happened.

Believe it or not, I understand very well how locals sometimes manipulate foreign journalists. I have been manipulated (and threatened) myself. But in the Arab world, not in Kosovo. I have written about this phenomenon many times.

My suggestion is that they are not as reliable allies as you seem to believe.

No nation is forever reliable. Nations have no permanent friends or enemies. I also understand this very well. My job is not to say if Albanians will be reliable in 50 years. My job is to describe what is happening today.

To the extent that they are allies, it is in spite of islam.

That's certainly possible. Most Islamic countries are at least somewhat hostile at either the government level, the popular level, or both. I said that in the article, too. I'm not sure why you think I'm naive about this.

If they get that ole-time-islam again, they will not be our allies.

Albanians, actually, have always been "weak" Muslims. This is not a recent development.

Caspi could easily have a problem tomorrow, or the next day.

Yes, he might.

I'm curious about his woman employee who did not wish to answer any questions. Has she had any problems? Does she fear something?

She didn't fear anything. That was obvious. She just seemed a little bit shy and deferential to her boss. Trust me. She wasn't afraid. Not everyone likes to talk to the media. I meet people all the time, everywhere, who do not want to be quoted for various reasons. I didn't meet anyone in Kosovo -- or any other Balkan country -- who had fear as one of those reasons.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at August 6, 2008 11:04 AM

"Albanians did shelter Jews during the Nazi occupation, more than any other people in Europe."

I think that might be a little unfair to the Danes.

Posted by: dsn Author Profile Page at August 6, 2008 1:11 PM

Well, that's it. All this back-and-forth has finally convinced me that both Serbs and Albanians are tremendous war criminals.

:-) That's the whole idea. If I stab you and you while bleeding you manage to slap me, I can cry "he slapped me!!!!" and people will be: well, call it even, both of you did bad things.

Michael,
on payments: On Albanian boards there is constantly mentions of that, even more $$ if you help recruit others (Amway, Saudi style) but to be fair they also accuse some Christian missionaries of using aid to convert. I know that USA threw out of their 'charities' and I also found this from

"Macedonia's Muslims are likely to elect a moderate leader soon, but extremism persists.
For Muslims in this small Balkan country, the Ottoman Empire's Islamic legacy still endures. However, some say Arab rivals are seeking to undermine it. "When my cousin entered university in Saudi Arabia, the Wahhabis offered him 200 euros a month and an apartment if he would spread their customs back in Macedonia," says Blerim, a young ethnic Albanian and Muslim who didn't want to give his last name for security reasons. "He accepted, and my uncle is quite concerned."
www.csmonitor.com/2006/0214/p06s02-woeu.html

Julia Gorin: if she had any shame, she'd go in exile, especially after being royally owned by US soldiers in Kosovo, including an Orthodox Chaplain who is working very closely with Serbian bishops:

The American Legion Magazine ran an opinion piece in the July issue by a New York comedienne named Julia Gorin, whose writings have been published in a number of conservative publications, including Front Page Magazine and National Review Online. She is also a contributing editor to the Jewish World Review. Ms. Gorin may be a funny lady, but her commentary is filled with wild accusations, inaccuracies, distortions and downright lies that serve only to hurt our peacekeeping mission in Kosovo and shed a negative light on the Soldiers who are carrying out said mission....
http://bradstaggs.blogspot.com/2007/07/truth-about-kosovo-today-in-response-to.html

With Caspi, the problem is not that "Albanians" or their government is hostile, it's just that some lowlife might do something to get some brownie points within its small group.

Posted by: nameless-fool Author Profile Page at August 6, 2008 3:56 PM

MJT,

Thank you for taking the time to respond. I disagree with some of what you write, and I believe you do not have a complete picture of Kosovo, but I respect your honesty and bravery.

Posted by: del Author Profile Page at August 6, 2008 9:11 PM

"And popular sentiment in Europe is much more anti-Arab than 'anti-semitic'. I put that in quotes to mock it."

Yes, how could anyone possibly call Europeans 'anti-semitic' (also putting in quotes to mock it). I mean, is there even a shred of historical evidence for such an ugly charge?

Posted by: Gary Rosen Author Profile Page at August 6, 2008 10:28 PM

You did not even acknowledge that Serbs in Kosovo have been ethnically cleansed and churches and monasteries destroyed. To a naive reader of your column, Kosovo has always been Albanian.

You did not even acknowledge that many Albanians in Kosovo have been ethnically cleansed and churches and mosques destroyed. To a naive reader of your column, Kosovo has always been Serbian. Serbs got there in 1180, way, way too late, and how did they become a majority? By coming in hordes, sword in hand and pushing the natives to the mountains. Read Dusan's code and see how he ordered Serbs to keep the Albanians out.

I agree that that's ancient, so let's start at 1912 when Serbs got Kosovo back thanks to the Russians: it was at least 75% Albanian, as per Serbia sources
( guardian.co.uk/world/2008/feb/26/kosovo.serbia )
Thanks to 1912-1918 mass killings as described by Edith Durham, Tolstoy and Leo Freundlich
The thousand and thousands of men, women, children and old people who have been slain or tortured to death, the villages marauded and burnt to the ground, the women and young girls who have been raped, and the countryside plundered, ravaged and swimming in blood can give no answer to this question.

The Serbs came to Albania not as liberators but as exterminators of the Albanian people. The Ambassadors' Conference in London proposed drawing the borders of Albania according to ethnic and religious statistics to be gathered on site by a commission. The Serbs have hastened to prepare the statistics for them with machine guns, rifles and bayonets. They have committed unspeakable atrocities.
albanianhistory.net/en/texts20_1/AH1913_1.html

, massive deportation of Albanians to Turkey and bringing some 70,000 Serbian settlers in the lands Albanians had occupied still only brought down the Albanians to 60%. http://www.seep.ceu.hu/archives/issue61/herbert.pdf (see a summary of the "Christian" things Serbs did)
During WWII almost all the recent Serb settlers were sent packing by Albanians and Tito didn't allow back in as a middle ground, given that he had promised Enver Hoxha that Kosovo would join Albania. For after WWII you might want to Google Rankovic. Did many Serbs leave Kosovo after WWII till 1980's? Yes, so did many more Albanians. While they were plenty of tensions, Kosovo was the poorest area in Yugo, so many Serbs and hundreds of thousands of Albanians left for Germany and Switzerland. Until 1990's no Albanian from Albania was allowed to leave the country so the entire Albanian diaspora in Europe was from Kosovo. Presumably Serbs left for other Yugo areas as well since they had options.

Serbs closed all Albanian schools and kept having abortions, uneducated rural Albanians kept having children, so despite all the immigration and forced deportations Albanians went from 75% in 1912 to 90% in 1990's. So the Serb strategy backfired. Badly.

Despite all your claims, only 70,000 or so Serbs left Kosovo post 1999, 130,000 or the 200,000 or so are either in N Mitrovica or inside Kosovo, and many of those Serbs were brought in from Krajina and Bosnia in the 1990's. You can easily find the statistics if you want and we don't know how many will never return because they know what they did to help the Arkan scum brigades.

Regarding the churches: The biggest destroyer of Churches in the Balkans is Serbia (just ask a Catholic Croat) and Serbs have destroyed at least 3 times as many Ottoman era mosques and historical buildings (not to mention houses) in Kosovo. Two wrongs don't make it right, but at least do not complain. Nothing will convince you of course, but who cares.

Posted by: nameless-fool Author Profile Page at August 6, 2008 11:22 PM

oh. it's kind of a confusing clarification - you're comparing to Europe, explicitly in the text, and implicitly to the middle east, using two consecutive criteria.. but anyway.. expended too many words already.

Even whittled down, I don't believe for a minute that a majority, or even a significant minority, of Europe's governments could possibly be called "anti-Israel" in any kind of overall, rational assessment. "Anti-Israel" is a bar that has been lowered to the point of absurdity, and doesn't deserve to be crossed because some junior MPs said some mean things. If you say "anti-Israel", you'd better be able to demonstrate that the whole government is carrying out more objectively hostile policies to Israel than they are carrying out objectively cooperative/supportive ones. I'm not super up-to-date, but I give that about a 1% chance of being true. I'm certainly open to being proved wrong, though. Step up with your links.

Posted by: glasnost Author Profile Page at August 7, 2008 5:27 AM

to be fair - I haven't actually seen European public opinion polls about Israel recently. I guess I could imagine some poll questions coming up with popular 'anti-Israel' sentiment at the popular level, but I suspect only by extrapolating "No" responses to "do you approve of X" questions, rather than answers like "Yes" to "do you hate Israel and wish it would cease to exist".

Posted by: glasnost Author Profile Page at August 7, 2008 5:31 AM

Mr. Totten,

Can you comment on this?

http://atlasshrugs2000.typepad.com/atlas_shrugs/2008/08/ethnically-clea.html

Posted by: Azygos Author Profile Page at August 7, 2008 9:04 AM

Alright, Glasnost, I'll play.

Almost 60 percent of Europeans believe Israel is the biggest threat to peace in the world, bigger than Iran, North Korea, and Afghanistan.

That poll is five years old.

Here is one that is only four months old. The question is slightly different, but the results aren't.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at August 7, 2008 9:06 AM

Azygos: Can you comment on this?

You can read my dispatch from Bosnia and get a much better picture of what happened.

The Bosniaks didn't ethnically-cleanse Sarajevo. The Serbs there left to live in their own ethnically-cleansed and ethnically "pure" region of Republica Srpska, and the ethincally-cleansed Bosniaks moved to Sarajevo because they had nowhere else to go.

The Bosniaks did not have an army capable of or interested in ethnically-cleansing Sarajevo. Their army, the Bosnian Army, was multi-ethnic, multi-confessional, and had many Serb commanders who resisted Karadzic's and Milosevic's fascistic Serbian Nationalism.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at August 7, 2008 9:14 AM

Micheal, regarding Europe /Jews:

The polls are shocking especially since Israel is not a superpower at all; they are doing all they can to keep an edge technologically so they can defend that strip of land.

Do you think it's the typical anti-semitism (i.s "they rule the world," 'Jews killed Christ') or simply sympathy for the Palestinians? It may be a combination of both of course. One can make very good arguments for either side, in humanitarian and also practical reasons (i.e. peace might outweigh some land) so having sympathy for either side doesn't necessarily mean that one loves Arabs /hate Jews or vice versa.

As in most cases, if you listen to any one side for 5 minutes you agree with them...until you hear the other side.

Posted by: nameless-fool Author Profile Page at August 7, 2008 10:07 AM

Nameless-fool: Do you think it's the typical anti-semitism (i.s "they rule the world," 'Jews killed Christ') or simply sympathy for the Palestinians?

I think it's a combination of old-world anti-Semitism, sympathy for the underdog Palestinians, and the same reactionary fat-headed attitudes that drive anti-Americanism. Israel, to many Europeans, looks like a Western country gone bad.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at August 7, 2008 10:52 AM

Speaking from a British perspective, most people don't have an opinion on the Israel conflict either way or any conflict that doesn't involve Britain directly.So I'd be very skeptical about sweeping claims of rising anti-semitism covered as anti-zionism. At the most I'd say the organised British Left is generally critical of Israel but that's maybe 5% of the adult population at most.

Posted by: Daniel E. Author Profile Page at August 7, 2008 11:34 AM

"As in most cases, if you listen to any one side for 5 minutes you agree with them...until you hear the other side."

In this case you can experiment.

Dress up as an Arab nationalist waving an Arab nationalism ("Palestinian") flag and wear a t-shirt that says "liberate Palestine" or some such thing and walk through Tel Aviv.

Then fly to Egypt or some other Arab country in the region, dress up as an obvious Jew waving an Israeli flag and wear a t-shirt that says "liberate Israel" or some such thing and walk through an Arab city.

I think you will notice very quickly which side is willing to live in peace and which isn't.

(Believe it or not, people give me different predictions as to the outcome of the experiment. Some people believe the Jew would survive, some people believe the Arab will survive. Some believe that both will die.)

Posted by: Leauki Author Profile Page at August 7, 2008 3:28 PM

Good article and discussion. Kosovo does look unique and it is a new view of Islam to me. I have read that the leader in Kosovo is part of it's Mafia. And that crime run though one clan monopolizes a lot of the area.

I am curious about Russia's influence in this area.

Posted by: podx Author Profile Page at August 8, 2008 11:22 PM
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