I enjoy this picture that was painted of the Serbs written in Edward Crankshow’s 1963 book the Fall of the House of Habsburg. It pertains to the way that the British had viewed the Serbs during the Balkan War of 1912 and now rallied the nation to think of the suffering Serbs during their war against the Triple Alliance during WWI, sparked by the assassination of the Austro-Hungarian Prince:
“This nation of proud and often splendid individuals has become familiar to us now. Everything in us which is attracted by the primitive, the unbending and the brave, responds to the appeal of these mountain warriors from the medieval Serbian heartland and their magnificent and heroic women who for centuries have borne the yoke as though it were a crown. But it takes more than an aggregation of splendid individuals to make a civilized society; and the extremes of bravery and the self-reliance go all too easily with the extremes of treachery and cruelty. Centuries of existence under oppression may bring out the best in a people, but it may also magnify the worst. The manners of the oppressed are all too likely to take their color from the manners of the oppressors; when the oppressors are Turkish Janissaries the results are likely to be bad. Further, the habit of conspiratorial violence which may be just the thing in a resistance movement operating a tyranny is apt to be continued, with undesirable consequences, when the tyranny has been overthrown. “
I feel that through this singular quotation one can better understand the nature of repressive regimes throughout history: most are the roads to hell paved with good intentions.
The oppressed who form their regimes off of notions of their repression often scapegoat people, as we now can recall by looking at what was occurring throughout Balkan (and world) history.
I think in many ways there are admirers of the Palestinian resistance and all like-minded groups that are standing up against oppression (whether perceived or actual). However, there is a danger in admiration of alleged repressed groups and contributing to their zeal and to their victory — while the British glorified the Serbs in 1914 they seemingly forgot that 2 years earlier they were making corpses of Turkish Muslims who would not convert to Christianity, and before we become such bold sympathizers with represed Turkish Muslims, we must remember that in 1875 they were making corpses of Christians etc. etc. until we bring ourselves back to the first clashes in the 1350s.
There is a certain human attraction where we want to essentially glorify the stubborn resister to oppression but we must do so cautiously and we must only do so in the context of a larger picture.
Though currently the Kurds are great allies in Iraq we must be very wary of handing more and more power to them — a people who have been repressed and murdered for the last two decades by the Hussein regime are probably likely to the indulgences of all repressed groups suddenly empowered, imbued with a lust for vengeance.
More important than any Palestinian resistance, any Serbian national ideal or any Kurdish state is a just Republic which safeguards all citizens against repression in all forms and until the repressed people speak of the rights of all men and not merely their own I would regard it with a modicum of suspicion.
Just as the Serb violently spilled the blood of the Muslim so, too, I fear that Hamas and the Palestinians would engage the Jewish settlers.