Serbia and Palestine

SerbiaAndPalestineby Timothy Lane   7/26/14
This is, as many have pointed out, the centennial of the beginning of World War I. Among the important dates that led to the cataclysm, one key date was July 25, the date Serbia rejected the Austro-Hungarian ultimatum and (well aware of the likely consequence) ordered mobilization. (The Habsburgs promptly ordered their own partial mobilization against Serbia, and declared war on July 28.) But what’s interesting to me (and I wrote about this many years ago in FOSFAX), is that the ultimatum demands (which are listed in full, along with the Serb responses, in D. J. Goodspeed’s The German Wars 1914-1945) would make a great deal of sense if they were applied today (with a few specifics updated) to the Palestinians. Here are the original demands as listed by Goodspeed:

1. The suppression of any publication inciting hatred of Austria-Hungary.

2. The suppression of Narodna Odbrana and all other propaganda societies, and the taking of necessary measures to prevent the dissolved societies from continuing their activities under another name or form.

3. The elimination from Serbian schools of hate propaganda against Austria-Hungary.

4. The removal from the Serbian army and bureaucracy of officials guilty of propaganda against Austria-Hungary.

5. The acceptance of the collaboration in Serbia of Austrian officials in the suppression of the subversive movement.

6. The arrest of the accessories to the murder plot of June 28, and the participation of Austrian officials in the investigation of the assassination.

7. The arrest of Major Voja Tankosich and Milan Ciganovich.

8. The suppression of the illegal traffic of arms and explosives from Serbia into Austria, and the punishment of the frontier officials who had helped the murderers to cross into Austria.

9. An explanation of the “unjustifiable utterances of high Serbian officials both in Serbia and abroad” who had, in interviews since June 28, expressed hostility to Austria-Hungary.

10. The notification of the Austrian government, without delay, of the measures taken.

I think most people can see how these provisions would apply to the Palestinian Authority. Replace “Serbia” with “Palestine” and “Austria-Hungary” (or “Austria”) with “Israel”, and nearly every demand could apply with no further change. No doubt there are specific Palestinian terrorists who could be listed instead of Tankosich and Ciganovich. If this were done in 2014, there would also have to be a demand to destroy the tunnels (and no doubt to get rid of the rockets).

An important point to make here is that Serbia rejected one provision outright because it was incompatible with maintaining its independence. (Its acceptance of others was hedged around; for example they claimed that they couldn’t locate Ciganovich, and asked the Austrians to provide evidence of the variuous forms of hate propaganda.) But Palestine is not a recognized national government (and judging by their performance so far, shouldn’t be), which would make such demands more appropriate. Ideally, the United States could use its own leverage (after all, it helps funds the Palestinian Authority, and thus Hamas) to force the Palestinians to accept such an ultimatum (though the current regime would never do so, of course).

But it’s still interesting that the ultimatum to a barbarous nation a century ago shines a light on the behavior of a far more barbarous “nation” today.

Timothy Lane writes from Louisville, Kentucky and publishes the FOSFAX fanzine.
About Author  Author Archive  Email • (1027 views)

This entry was posted in Essays and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Serbia and Palestine

  1. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    I have encountered a number of Serbs in my travels across the world. Admittedly, my personal experience is limited, but I have found most of the Serbs I have met to be rather aggressive types who clearly had large chips on their shoulders.

    In one particular case in the 1990’s, a Serb taxi driver in Switzerland had just about declared war on the U.S.A. by the end of the drive from Zurich Airport to Zug. Some others I have run into were similarly disputatious.

    I recall reading an article recently in which some patriotic Serb waxed eloquent at the multitude of wrongs done Serbia and was happy WWI had taken place as it had been good for the Serbian nation.

    Serbs make unreconstructed Confederates look like the most reasonable people in the world. Talk about not letting go….Serbs can’t get over and seem to blame the world for their loss at the Battle of Kosovo, which took place in 1389 AD. (I couldn’t help the AD part even though it is redundant.)

    So if the Palestinians are worse than the Serbs, the world is in for a long…story.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Harry Turtledove has a very aggressive and (it turns out) dishonest Serb as a major character in his series about the Yellowstone volcanic eruption. Perhaps he had some similar experiences. (Considering how the Croat Ustashi treated Jews — as well as Serbs — during World War II, one certainly wouldn’t expect his sympathies to be with them. The Nazis considered the Ustashi barbaric.)

      Incidentally, AD properly precedes the year (unlike BC, which does come after), so it would be AD 1389 (i.e., the Year of the Lord 138o, not 1389 the Year of the Lord).

  2. faba calculo says:

    “But Palestine is not a recognized national government (and judging by their performance so far, shouldn’t be”

    For the present, I would agree. I think that the status quo is working manageably well for Israel, so there’s no rush to an agreement. However, ultimately, Israel needs to be rid of the occupied territories and those living on them, so an eventual two-state solution seems inevitable.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Actually, I favor population transfers so that the heart of the West Bank remains in Israeli hands in return for the southern Negev. As for the Two-State Solution, I favor a Three-State Solution: the Palestinians would end up ruled by Egypt and Jordan (as they were until 1967). No solution can work if based on the notion that Israelis and Palestinians can get along, because too many of the latter have no intention of every doing so.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *