WASHINGTON (Aug. 4)
A coalition of Jewish and other religious groups supporting stronger U.S. action in Bosnia-Herzegovina praised the president this week for his decision to support the use of U.S. air power in the former Yugoslav republic under certain circumstances.
The American Task Force for Bosnia, a coalition of Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Arab American and other groups, said in a statement Tuesday that it welcomed Clinton’s statement.
Last week, the president said that, if asked, the United States would use American air power to protect U.N. troops in Sarajevo.
This week, NATO officials began military preparations for possible air strikes against Serbian forces in Bosnia.
Jewish groups have been active in lobbying the administration to take stronger action to protect the Bosnian Muslims, including the use of military force if necessary.
In recent weeks, some in the Jewish community have voiced frustration with what they see as a weak and vacillating administration policy toward the crisis in the former Yugoslav republic.
The administration has voiced support for stronger measures at various points, only to back away. Clearly, task force members are hoping this latest round of statements from the administration is a preview of something more substantial.
The Serbian policy of “ethnic cleansing,” directed primarily at Bosnia’s Muslims, has had special resonance for American Jews, who see echoes of the Nazi Holocaust in the Serbians’ attempt to rid whole geographic areas of Muslims.
The ethnic unrest in Bosnia has united Jewish and Arab American groups, often on opposing sides of a variety of issues, in a cause.
The coalition’s statement Tuesday warned of the consequences to Europe if Muslim-controlled Sarajevo were allowed to fall.
“The fall of Sarajevo, if allowed by Western inaction, would have grave consequences for the future stability of Europe and U.S. interests in the region,” the statement said.
The Jewish groups signing the statement were the American Jewish Committee, American Jewish Congress, B’nai B’rith International and the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.