Lafayette Park, across Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House, has for a long time been the site of various signs and placards calling attention to problems around the world.
On Nov. 22, the park became the temporary home of the “World’s Largest Postcard,” unveiled by a coalition of Jewish and other groups concerned with the situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
The 800-pound postcard, measuring 10 by 14 feet, is addressed to President Clinton and urges him to take stronger action to help the civilian population of the beleaguered former Yugoslav republic.
On the back are signatures and messages from hundreds of people.
The postcard was initiated by Temple Emanu-El of Dallas.
For months, Jewish groups have been involved in a coalition with Arab-American, Muslim and other groups concerned about Bosnia.
The groups’ main focus has been the suffering inflicted on Bosnia’s Muslims by Serbian forces, who have called for “ethnic cleansing” in Bosnia.
The coalition has pushed for increasing humanitarian aid to civilians in Bosnia and for imposing severe diplomatic and economic sanctions, among other measures.
But they have been frustrated by what they see as inaction by the Clinton administration.
“My concern is that if we are a laughingstock and our word means nothing” in the Serbian capital of Belgrade, leaders in dangerous countries like North Korea and Iran will not take U.S. declarations seriously, George Spectre, associate director for international, governmental and Israel affairs at B’nai B’rith, said in an interview before the news conference.
“There is no card large enough, no message eloquent enough, indeed, there are not enough words in the English language, in any of the world’s languages, to describe the murders, the rapes, the torture, the atrocities inflicted daily upon innocent civilians in this war-shattered land,” said Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.
Other Jewish groups participating in the coalition include the American Jewish Committee, the American Jewish Congress and the Anti-Defamation League.
Organizers are hoping that the giant postcard will remain in place across the street from the White House for the time being.