The Association of Former Prison Camp Inmates in Mostar wrote again to the Israeli Ambassador to BiH, expressing the belief that the positions the Israeli Embassy expressed regarding electoral reform in BiH were a product of the Ambassador being “informed in a wrong and malicious manner” on the issue.
On Monday, the Israeli Embassy to Bosnia and Herzegovina, based in Tirana, issued a memorandum expressing support for electoral law reform based on a model backed by Bosnian Croat parties.
This sparked numerous reactions and prompted Bosnia’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Bisera Turkovic, to send a demarche to the Israeli Embassy and Foreign Ministry, asking for clarification.
It also prompted the Association of former prison camp inmates in Mostar to write an open letter to the Israeli Ambassador, Noah Gal Gendler, urging him to reconsider his position.
The head of the association, Emir Hajdarevic, argued that the electoral model Gendler expressed support for is “discriminatory” and would “introduce a new apartheid and threaten the rights of people living as minorities in certain areas of Bosnia and Herzegovina.”
Gendler responded on Wednesday.
“We took note of your claims. Our concern relates to the fact that the rights of the Jewish community in the country are being misused to block essential internal processes in BiH. We will not allow this misuse to happen,” he wrote.
This prompted Hajdarevic to write to Gendler once again.
In his letter, he thanked the Israeli Ambassador for his quick response to the open letter the association sent earlier. He argued that the initial statement by the Israeli Embassy on electoral reform was “hasty” and did not take into account all the facts of the situation in BiH.
“It is clear to us that that statement was the product of you being informed in a wrong and malicious manner by people who have been working for years to destroy the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina,” Hajdarevic wrote.
“As for your response, we are stunned by the fact of your elementary, but hopefully not malicious, lack of knowledge on the specifics of the country we love and which is big enough for all its peoples and citizens who perceive it as their own,” the association said, adding that it is fighting for the equality and democratic rights for all of the people in BiH, regardless of their ethnic affiliation.
“We do not have any political mentors, nor are we financially dependent on anyone. We work and speak from the heart and based on what we have experienced and survived,” Hajdarevic wrote.
“Your people experienced the camps, deprivation of all basic and human rights, killings and most of all felt the perniciousness of Nazi ideas in the Second World War. Also, we who oppose the idea of ethnically clean areas in the territory of Mostar and Herzegovina, have experienced similar crimes and we were pained by the fact that you supported exactly such an idea. We have experienced this idea of the so-called HRHB (Croatian Republic of Herzeg-Bosnia) firsthand and we will fight using all democratic means to ensure that such and similar ideas in this region are never implemented in this beautiful country, wherever they may be coming from,” he wrote.
Hajradevic expressed hope that the Ambassador will be willing to “hear out all relevant factors from Bosnia and Herzegovina, not only politicians, before taking any positions concerning the country.