Gaza War: Could Balkan history show way out?

Situation in Gaza is escalating to full scale war with already some 400 deaths and triple of that in hospitals. Using of force can stop rockets from Gaza to Israel for a while but what after that. Gaza strip is so small piece of land hat creating a sufficient buffer-zone – minimum 40 km for present day’s hand-made rockets – is impossible, occupation would cost human lives and money for years, human catastrophe would stay without any perspective of better future. I think that in Balkan history some lessons could be learned and applied also in the Middle-East.

If some ethnic groups hate each other and when both can base their views and claims to selected parts of hundreds or thousands of years so basically there only two peaceful solutions: to train tolerance for generations developing same time living conditions or separate the groups by ethnical lines. Balkans have long experience about the second option.

Balkan examples

In recent history the vast movements of population provoked by the war 1991-95 in Croatia and Bosnia were nothing new in Balkans. For example in 1690 Patriarch Arsenije lead 30.000 families (Serbs) into exile from their lands which earlier were occupied by Turks and when last reoccupation failed.  

Especially after the Serbian-Turkish wars 1876-78 migrations and population exchanges were even bigger; some two million people, divided between Serbs and Muslims, fled their original homes. E.g. more than a quarter of million Serbs fled from Kosovo to other parts of Serbia. The Ottoman government absorbed 1878-1897 more than a million refugees who would not live under the new Christian authorities.

During the period1912-23 up to two and half million people in the Balkans were shifted from their homes due the wars and population exchanges. E.g. 1912 Greece and Turkey formally agreed under the treaty of Lausanne to exchange most of their remaining minority populations. Between 1952 and inter-governmental agreements resulted further emigration of 175.000 Muslims from Yugoslavia to Turkey.

In Bosnia Dayton Agreement was made 1995 after bloody war (1992-95) had almost finished ethnic cleansings/transfer of populations so that it was possible to draw administrative boundaries according ethnical groups. Ethnic cleansings in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo are main reasons that Serbia even today has one of the biggest refugee problems in Europe with 326.853 internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees.

Not only Balkans

Recent history has examples of population movements also outside Balkans. After WWII Germans moved e.g. from Poland inside new borders. Finland settled some 10 % of its population from territories occupied by the Soviet Union, which from its side transferred new population to new regions.  

Israel itself is mainly settled by immigrants and e.g. in last twenty years over half a million people with some Jewish origin has come from ex-Soviet Union. In smaller scale more or less forced population transfers have been emptying Jewish colonies in Gaza and West-bank.  

The pros and cons

Forced population movements can include some negative aspects such as

  • It violates human rights especially freedom of movement
  • Politically it can be seen as ethnic cleansing
  • Property rights are violated
  • It does not solve Jerusalem and West-bank question
  • If not supported by effective re-settlement programmes the problems only changes place
  • It violates high western ideals of multi-ethnic tolerant societies

One can however also defend applying this kind of solution in the Middle-East as follows:

  • It changes focus of societies from security/violence/defence questions more to economical/social fields
  • During planning Gaza-solution also Jerusalem and West-bank questions and agreement with Syria about Golan Heights and Lebanon should be integrated to master-plan
  • Supported capacity building of administration of new settlements can create some good practices also for development of Palestinian statehood elements
  • When people can live and live at best case in peace (both sides) they can plan their future and act to implement their individual dreams/visions
  • Better than be death and right is to be alive

The bottom line

Emptying Gaza by internationally agreed and financed population movement is brutal action but what is the alternative – continuing wars, intifadas and human catastrophe forever. It is pragmatic solution, good planning is needed so that new settlements are made sustainable way with possibility to various economical activities and implementation must be effective backed with sufficient financial resources for infrastructure, housing and logical socio-economical development programmes.


Add to Technorati Favorites


14 Responses to Gaza War: Could Balkan history show way out?

  1. […] RSS « Gaza War: Could Balkan history show way out? […]

  2. Slavko says:

    To use the recent history of the Balkans as a good example of a possible soution to the Palestine/Israel problem is a joke right? Forced and bloody ethnic cleansing is not a solution to anything and the Balkan example of that clearly highlights that. You seem to think that by simplistically murdering and terrorizing people to leave their land will work because living with your own kind bring happiness and contentment.

    When any conflict arises no good can come out of it except through justice. People can only live together with justice. The reason for many of these conflicts is the lack of justice in the first place, where civilians are murdered and forced from their homes. A solution without justice is not pragmatic, it is just a stop-gap leading to more conflict, death, refugees and unhappiness.

  3. ck says:

    The Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip represent severe and massive violations of international humanitarian law as defined in the Geneva Conventions, both in regard to the obligations of an Occupying Power and in the requirements of the laws of war

    Even the most naive American voter cannot be expected to see the morally, legally and politically questionable death sentence given to Saddam Hussein a milestone in the Bush Administration’s illegal war in Iraq. As the milestones pile up, so do the bodies.

    Those violations include:
    • Collective punishment: The entire 1.5 million people who live in the crowded Gaza Strip are being punished for the actions of a few militants.

    • Targeting civilians: The airstrikes were aimed at civilian areas in one of the most crowded stretches of land in the world, certainly the most densely populated area of the Middle East.

    • Disproportionate military response: The airstrikes have not only destroyed every police and security office of Gaza’s elected government, but have killed and injured hundreds of civilians; at least one strike reportedly hit groups of students attempting to find transportation home from the university.

    Earlier Israeli actions, specifically the complete sealing off of entry and exit to and from the Gaza Strip, have led to severe shortages of medicine and fuel (as well as food), resulting in the inability of ambulances to respond to the injured, the inability of hospitals to adequately provide medicine or necessary equipment for the injured, and the inability of Gaza’s besieged doctors and other medical workers to sufficiently treat the victims.

    Certainly the rocket attacks against civilian targets in Israel are unlawful. But that illegality does not give rise to any Israeli right, neither as the Occupying Power nor as a sovereign state, to violate international humanitarian law and commit war crimes or crimes against humanity in its response. I note that Israel’s escalating military assaults have not made Israeli civilians safer; to the contrary, the one Israeli killed today after the upsurge of Israeli violence is the first in over a year.

    Israel has also ignored recent Hamas diplomatic initiatives to re-establish the truce or ceasefire since its expiration on 26 December.

    The Israeli airstrikes today, and the catastrophic human toll that they caused, challenge those countries that have been and remain complicit, either directly or indirectly, in Israel’s violations of international law. That complicity includes those countries knowingly providing the military equipment including warplanes and missiles used in these illegal attacks, as well as those countries who have supported and participated in the siege of Gaza that itself has caused a humanitarian catastrophe.

    I remind all Member States of the United Nations that the UN continues to be bound to an independent obligation to protect any civilian population facing massive violations of international humanitarian law–regardless of what country may be responsible for those violations. I call on all Member States, as well as officials and every relevant organ of the United Nations system, to move on an emergency basis not only to condemn Israel’s serious violations, but to develop new approaches to providing real protection for the Palestinian people.

  4. Moe Tamani says:

    Well tit for tat , they are just paying the fee of spreading the terrorism in Israel…and as far as the innocent people are concern there is a lot besides wheat in a grinder ….

  5. matt says:

    tit for tat is certainly oh so true. Terrorism is something that scares everybody and something that unfortunately will never be stopped unless a complete miracle happens 😦

  6. […] More about issues e.g. in my article “Gaza War – Could Balkan history show way out?” […]

  7. […] alternatives e.g. population transfer to get some buffer zone between IDF and Hamas (more in “Gaza War: Could Balkan history show way out?” ) or changing two-state solution to three-state option (more in “The Three-State Option could […]

  8. […] ollut sovittavat väestönsiirrrot (ks. esim “Gaza War – Could Balkan history show way out?” ja kahden valtion mallin korvaaminen kolmen valtion mallilla (“The Three-State Option could solve […]

  9. […] “Gaza War – Could Balkan history show way out?” sekä The Third Intifada – To Fade or […]

  10. […] population movements: “Gaza War – Could Balkan history show way out?”  and The Third Intifada – To Fade or […]

  11. […] population movements: “Gaza War – Could Balkan history show way out?” and The Third Intifada – To Fade or […]

  12. […] Gaza War – Could Balkan history show way out?” […]

  13. […] Gaza War – Could Balkan history show way out? […]

%d bloggers like this: