THE DAILY PENNSYLVANIAN, Thursday, May 04, 2000
New horrors emerge from Kosovo's ashes
By Ronald Kim
(U-WIRE) PHILADELPHIA -- Where in Europe, in the year 2000, have the policies of the Western powers directly resulted in the vicious persecution and expulsion of an ancient Jewish community?
If you guessed Kosovo, you're right. One year after the aerial bombardment of Yugoslavia, the aims of NATO's military campaign are close to being realized. According to countless human rights observers and reports of European journalists, virtually all of Kosovo's non-Albanian population has been driven from the province by armed gangs of the Kosovo Liberation Army.
Before the war, the Kosovar capital of Pristina was home to 40 Sephardic Jews. All have been forced to leave, their homes looted or burned.
Cedomir Prlincevic, former director of archives in Kosovo and leader of the community, had to be rescued by taxi via Macedonia. He made it out alive with his elderly mother to the Yugoslav capital of Belgrade, bringing only his Talmud.
Immediately following the end of the war, over 90 percent of Kosovo's already dwindling Serbian Orthodox minority fled attacks from the victorious KLA. In the U.S. press, this catastrophe was legitimized as the revenge of Kosovar Albanians, whose oppression under Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's army and paramilitary forces "justified" the expulsion of all Serbs.
But this mass exodus is hardly limited to the Serbs. Last June and July, 300,000 Kosovars of all backgrounds, including Roma (Gypsy), Turkish and Gorani (Slavic-speaking Muslims), left their homes, mostly for Belgrade or neighboring Montenegro. As the persecution of the latter two groups indicates, religious affiliation is no protection against the wrath of Muslim Albanian extremists.
Today, Serbs and Gorani are confined to six tiny enclaves in Kosovo. Ironically, their safety -- and that of hundreds of beautiful medieval Serbian Orthodox monasteries and cathedrals -- hinges on the dubious protection of NATO soldiers from the very powers that launched last year's war.
In this new KLA-controlled Kosovo, created by NATO aggression and cosmetically patrolled by "peacekeepers," no minority is safe.
The village of Lecnice had been home to a small group of Roman Catholic Croats since medieval times. Last October, only months before its 700th anniversary, the whole community of 300 fled to Croatia. An 86-year-old Czech man was found with a bullet in the back of his head in a park near Pristina.
One should not conclude, however, that the elimination of ethnic minorities is the only difference between the old and new Kosovo. Albanian "moderates" -- not to speak of intellectuals and those who felt no sympathy for the KLA -- have fled to Belgrade, joining earlier waves of ethnic Croatians and Bosnian Muslims who escaped war and fascism in their own republics.
Since the departure of Milosevic's army, the KLA -- long reputed to be major drug traffickers into Western Europe -- has swiftly imported all the worst evils of the outside world to its new domain. Stolen cars are now everywhere, just as in Albania. Trafficking in prostitutes from the rest of the Balkans and the former Soviet Union has become a serious problem, one which peacekeepers' limited resources simply cannot address. Vigilante justice, looting and smuggling bespeak a level of lawlessness that makes the rest of Yugoslavia look tame by comparison.
Surprised? In February 1999, just before the war, Robert Manning of the Council on Foreign Relations described U.S. objectives in the Balkans: "turning the former Yugoslavia into series of protectorates one province at a time." In other words, integrating them into the global economy as fodder for free-market racketeering and U.S. economic colonization.
Citizens of the U.S. cannot be blamed for their ignorance of these tragic developments, which have gone virtually unreported in the media. But ignorance does not forswear responsibility.
For three months last spring, hundreds of millions of Americans (and Canadians and Europeans) were once again whipped up into a frenzy of militaristic, patriotic rage. Believing every rumor, every tabloid headline of "mass graves" and "genocide," these professional patriots -- including supposedly liberal intellectuals -- saluted a policy of "bombing for peace." Drunk on hatred of the primitive, tribal, anti-Western and incorrigibly bad Serbs, their insatiable blood-lust applauded the murder of ordinary Yugoslavs, even on Orthodox Easter.
Once Milosevic capitulated and agreed to withdraw his troops, the media conveniently terminated their coverage. Those few reporters who dare to risk their lives in Kosovo have had a hard time being heard by a bored public in Western Europe, let alone the U.S.
After all, we won, didn't we?
Now, faced with the horrors of the New Kosovo, we excuse ourselves from the consequences of our actions, pleading that "we didn't know."
And where have we heard that before?
(C) 2000 Daily Pennsylvanian via U-WIRE