Shlomo Avineri writes a letter to a Serbian friend, advising Serbia to acquiesce in Kosovo independence. He points out that 90% of the population of Kosovo is ethnically Albanian, and says:
Yet one cannot draw 21st century borders according to historical links which overlook the wishes of the present population. The question is not territory, but people. It is for this reason that most Israelis today are willing to give up claims to the historical regions of Judea and Samaria, even willing to consider Palestinian rule over parts of Jerusalem. History clashes with reality: this may be unfortunate, but one has to confront it.
Ah, yes; the Israeli-Palestinian model has much to recommend it! His advice:
I would like to see Serbia join Europe, just a Slovenia did and Croatia may in the future. Do not exclude yourself because of historical memories, do not be your own worst enemy. Do what modern nations – the French and the Germans, for example – have done after centuries of warfare: emancipate yourself from the shackles of the past, cut you loses [sic] (yes, modern nations have to do this too) and shape your future according to the values of self-determination and mutual acceptance.
The comparison with France and Germany is instructive. The demographic assault on Europe, coupled with this advice, virtually guarantees that France and Germany will be Muslim nations within two generations.
But the most remarkable part of the letter, I think, is this:
I KNOW you claim that for centuries Serbia has been a bulwark of Christian Europe against Islam. I leave aside the unpleasant “clash of civilizations,” if not racist overtones, of this claim.
The truth may be “unpleasant,” but it is surely not “racist” to observe a plain historical fact. Repeatedly, Muslim forces have attempted to overrun Europe. The first attempt was turned back by Charles Martel at Poitiers in 732. The thirteen, fourteenth, and fifteenth centuries witnessed the gradual Muslim conquest of the Balkans; the crucial Muslim victory from a Serbian point of view was Kosovo Polje in 1389. Suleiman the Magnificent besieged Vienna in 1529 but was routed by Polish Count Niklas Salm. The Ottomans besieged Vienna again in 1683 but were defeated by Polish King John III Sobieski. The Serbs were admittedly not very effective as a bulwark against Islamic expansion; that credit properly belongs to Poland. But the history of Muslim aggression against Eastern Europe is undeniable.
In light of that history, it seems prudent, not perverse, for the Serbs to resist a Muslim state occupying the heart of what used to be Serbia, and entirely understandable for the Serbian minority in Kosovo to think that their survival is at stake.