Anti Muslim Bigotry,  antisemitism

Is It Islamophobic To Call For A Greater Serbia?

Not necessarily.

It would be quite possible to believe that Yugoslavia ought to be re-established, and that Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo ought to be subject to rule from Belgrade, without being a hater of Muslims and Croats.

Some of those who opposed the independence of the Balkan states did so because they believed that Yugoslavia was a socialist state. Many others who supported Slobodan Milošević, chose sides out of hatred of the United States, not of those whose lives were protected by NATO.

It goes without saying that a high proportion of those who stood up for Serbian hegemony were lunatics of the first order. Many of them were indeed Serb chauvinists and Muslim haters, who were proponents of the ethnic cleansing and murder of non-Serb groups. Nevertheless, the involvement of such high profile intellectuals as the late Harold Pinter gave the campaign a certain aura of seriousness and respectability.

So it is with another campaign: the promotion of a single state encompassing both Israel and Palestine. There is nothing intrinsically anti-Muslim about calling for the reconquest of Gaza and the disbanding of the Palestinian Authority, just as one could call for the re-absorption of Israel into an Arab or Muslim state without being a Jew-hater. However, such campaigns are likely to attract a pretty high proportion of those with a deep seated loathing of Palestinians or Jews.

So, here is Rabbi Danny Rich of Liberal Judaism, who introduced a talk by Jeff Halper, an American who supports a single state of Palestine that would replace Israel:

Jews For Justice For Palestinians have booked the Montagu Centre on a number of occasions. They pay more than an economic rent. It is not our custom to censure speakers. We have come under pressure both formally and informally to cancel this meeting. It is not appropriate to cancel this meeting as JFJFP have booked our hall many times before without any problem and we do not believe that the calling for a one state, and I believe that Jeff does not call for that anyway, is anti-Semitic.

“We”, in this context, must mean “Liberal Judaism”.

This, apparently, is what Halper believes:

There’s only one government in Israel and Palestine which is an Israeli government. There’s only one army, one electrical system, one highway system and one water system. Israel has made that, now we can’t blame the Arabs for that. They accepted the two-state solution publicly in 1988. We made this a binational state and we have to accept responsibility for what we do. We made our bed and we have to lie in it, which means a one-state solution which is either binational or a democratic unitary state. I’m not advocating it. I think a one-state solution is a challenge, I think it’s just, I would like to go that way. You can’t keep advocating for a two-state solution when Israel has eliminated the two state solution.

Precisely the same argument might be made for a Greater Serbia. However, as we have seen, it is possible for national groups to gain independence and establish self governance, even when they have been single states for some time.

Now, it may be that Serbia and Kosovo will re-federate one day. Perhaps they will both become members of the European Union. Similarly, Israel and Palestine might also freely decide to combine their efforts in the future. However, that cannot happen before  sovereign and self-governing states emerge, which are capable of making the corporate decision to do so.

I expect that this is the point that Rabbi Rich intended to make, but I cannot be sure. If you do ask him if this is the position of Liberal Judaism, please let me know.


Dave Rich observes:

Of course it can’t be Islamophobic to support Greater Serbia, because George Galloway took just that position. In his autobiography I’m not the only one he wrote on the subject:

“Clearly, every nation has the right of self-determination. But a nation also has the right not to exercise that right. It has the right to decide instead to be a part of a larger multinational state, and indeed in the modern world it seems sensible that it should do so.

He also accused Britain, Germany, France and the United States of

“stimulat[ing] and assist[ing] the nationalist serpents who had been crushed but not killed by the rocks of pan-nationalism.”

Although then he did seem to change his mind, because in a more recent interview with Muslim Weekly he said that he “walked the streets of Pristina and elsewhere in Kosovo highlighting the disastrous policy of Belgrade of seeking to centralise their country rather than to let the different constituencies of Yugoslavia have their autonomy.” I’m sure it can’t be that he tailored his opinions to suit different audiences, because that would be very cynical indeed.

He also had this to say about Kosovo:

“Drugs, prostitution, people-trafficking, crime and the logistics of fundamentalist terrorism have become Kosovo’s main exports and their only foreseeable earner in the future.”

Which is a statement that I would have expected to come from a different part of the political spectrum, to be honest.