In my weekend blog about the Kosovo precedent being used to a) unilaterally establish a Palestinian state and b) allow NATO to potentially bomb Israel to make that happen, I mentioned that in 1999 Ariel Sharon was warned — and then himself warned — about such a scenario for Israel. He tried to get American-Jewish leaders to raise their voices in opposition to NATO’s bombing campaign. But too many of them had been part of taking out that New York Times ad calling for Clinton to take action in Kosovo.

Another plea went up — from a pair of Jewish socialists — to their fellow Jews a year later, to wake up. And so now that we’re predictably on the precipice of the logical conclusion of 1999, with Jewish blood finally to pay for 1999 (I say “finally” in homage to a little-spoken sentiment in 1999 that “Jews should not be so forward about supporting a war in which their own children would not die.”), I’m repeating their plea by excerpting their March 2000 piece from Jewish Currents magazine (links added):

NATO in the Balkans: Jews and the Kosovo Crisis
by Alvin Dorfman and Heather Cottin

In the beautiful spring of 1999, while Jews were commemorating Shoah and celebrating Passover, bombs rained down on the sovereign nation of Yugoslavia. In the United States, major Jewish organizations defended the thousands of devastating NATO bombing sorties. Many Jews called for ground troops. Both the mainstream and Jewish press vilified the Serbs and characterized Yugoslavia as an aggressor nation. The holocaust analogy was replayed as it had been during the Bosnian War, when James Harff, of the public relations firm Ruder Finn, had boasted to a French interviewer that Jewish support for NATO in Bosnia was a prize. “By a single move, we were able to present a simple story of good guys and bad guys which would thereafter play itself out.” “We won,” he said, “by targeting the Jewish audience.”

American Jewry did nothing in 1995 when the Croatians, headed by Kosovo Albanian Lieutenant General Agim Ceku, ethnically cleansed from the Krajina 300,000 Serbs whose roots went back 300 years. American Jews did not repudiate Croatian President Franjo Tudjman, despite his denial of the
Shoah, and his boast that his wife was neither a Serb nor a Jew. The effectiveness of the Ruder Finn campaign was such that most Americans accepted without question the right of Bosnian Moslems to break away from Yugoslavia. The US government and the media did not discuss Alia Izetbegovic as a Moslem Fundamentalist, nor did they remind us that the Bosnian President never renounced his Islamic Declaration, in which he said, “There can be no peace between the Islamic faith and non-Islamic societies.”

Few Americans know much about Balkan history, and when the war in Kosovo erupted on the front pages of US newspapers, Americans once again accepted the “simple story of good guys and bad guys” that cast the Serbs as the enemy and the Kosovo Albanians as the victims. Jewish acceptance of this story is troubling. As with the Bosnian Moslems in the NATO intervention in 1992-5 and the Croatian ethnic cleansing of the Krajina in 1995, American Jews took sides against the Serbs who had been their only friends in the Balkans during World War II. Between 1941 and 1945 the Croatian Ustache government, the Bosnian Moslems, and the Kosovar Albanians, under the Italian Fascist Albanian government, had murdered over 60,000 Jews and 1,000,000 Serbs.

Jewish support for NATO intervention was troubling for other reasons. American Jewish organizations tacitly supported the Kosovo Liberation Army. The KLA was funded in part by reactionary Islamic forces, the United States, and Germany. In the “civil war” between 1997 and 1999, Jews joined in the condemnation of the government of Slobodan Milosovic, and urged NATO bombing of Belgrade and the rest of Yugoslavia.

Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of Jewish support for the 78 days of NATO bombing was the facile acceptance of claims such as “genocide” and “holocaust,” terms used again and again to describe the experiences of the Kosovo Albanians. A “simple story of good guys and bad guys” got twisted into an outrageous comparison. 2000 people, one third of them Serbs, died in Kosovo in the year before the bombing began. There had been fighting between the KLA and the Yugoslav Army, and civilians and armed forces both perished. But the media claimed “genocide,” and the comparison to Shoah was quickly made. This was a monstrous misrepresentation of the truth which simultaneously desecrated the experience of Jews in the Holocaust.

During the NATO bombing campaign Kosovo Albanians were placed on trains and sent to Macedonia and Montenegro. They were sent to NATO and UN-run refugee camps, not concentration camps. NATO bombardments decimated Yugoslavia. The Serbs were bombed daily; most of the “Kosovars” were saved.

Albanians in Kosovo had been the first to try to rid the province of Serbs and Roms in 1981 and 1982, and it was they who used the expression “ethnic cleansing” to describe their purification campaign. The KLA is a very secretive organization, but it is not a recent phenomenon. Kosovo Albanians from Germany and Albania, whose family roots went back to the notorious Skanderbeg division which slaughtered Jews, Serbs and Rom people in World War II, comprised the leading faction of the KLA. In December 1998, the State Department wrote an alarming report, which clearly stated, “the KLA harass or kidnap anyone who comes to the (Yugoslav) police.” The report continued, “KLA representatives had threatened to kill villagers or burn their homes if they did not join the KLA.” Yet the United States supported the Kosovo Liberation Army.

…We must ask ourselves as Jews: why are we supporting such a force? …Jews here and in Israel offered asylum and comfort to the Kosovo Albanians. Did the Jewish press express compassion for the Serb or Rom victims of NATO bombing? Where was the public anguish about the destruction of hospitals, schools, factories, bridges, railway stations, religious edifices and tens of thousands of homes in Yugoslavia? Which Jews spoke out against the Balkan ecocide produced by NATO bombing of chemical factories and the use of Depleted Uranium (DU) which causes cancer and birth defects?

200,000 Serbs and Roms have been, since the war ended, murdered or driven out of Kosovo by the KLA forces. Agim Ceku has been head of the KLA since February, so he knows the US will turn a blind eye to ethnic cleansing of Serbs.

The spin doctors may have manipulated the sympathies of concerned citizens, but NATO’s bombing of Yugoslavia had, according to Le Monde Diplomatique, “not the least international legitimacy.” The United States fought on the side of drug traffickers and Nazis. Germany, in violation of its own laws, sent its armed forces and Luftwaffe out on military missions against Yugoslavia. Have we, who pride ourselves on having brought moral law into the world, abandoned our belief in the Rule of Law?

…The expansion of NATO was a Pandora’s Box that was locked until the dismemberment of Yugoslavia began. NATO involvement in Yugoslavia was the key that opened Eastern Europe and Central Asia to NATO expansion, and NATO expansion opened the door to the expansion eastward of the new Global Economy. NATO’s new role in Europe is the police force for the New World Order. Kosovo sits atop a five billion-dollar lead, zinc, silver, cadmium, and gold mine, “the most valuable piece of real estate in the Balkans.” Kosovo has seventeen billion tons of coal. The Danube flows through Yugoslavia and is more important to trade in central and southern Europe than any other river. The oil and natural gas pipelines of Europe criss-cross Yugoslavia. Yugoslavia is proximate to the West’s next oil and natural gas bonanza: the Caspian region. The four trillion dollars worth of petroleum there is the answer to the NATO nations’ quest for more oil. Germany is particularly concerned about this.

These are issues for [Jews] convinced that our interests lie with US policy…US policy supports Israel [but] Israel could face the loss of US support. Let us not forget; Yugoslavia once enjoyed a special relationship with the United States just as Israel now does.

In April of 1999 the Yugoslav ambassador to the United Nations wrote a letter to several Jewish organizations, begging for support. NATO had bombed the Bridge at Novi Sad and the adjacent Memorial Park. “The Bridge and the Park had special significance to Jews and Serbs,” wrote the ambassador, because, “a few thousand Jews and Serbs were summarily executed by the Nazis and thrown into the Danube under that bridge” on April 1, 1942. But there was silence; no Jewish organization responded. That silence must be broken.

Let us ask ourselves why we are cooperating with politicians in league with…fascists and drug traffickers. Let us question how we participated in the demonizing of the Serbs, allowing them to become the world’s pariahs. And let us ask ourselves whether we betrayed the friendship of those who fought and died with us in the Holocaust. Can such betrayal of principle be “good for the Jews?”