Israel’s strikingly gratuitous act of political interference into Bosnia’s fragile and fractious politics threatens to harm relations with both the Balkan state’s Muslims and Jews
A memorandum by the Israeli Embassy in Tirana, leaked to the media in early August, shocked observers by supporting a highly disputed electoral reform proposal favored by a far-right Bosnian Croat political party. With it, Israel has formally endorsed the destructive policies of the governments of Croatia, Russia, and Hungary’s Prime Minister Victor Orban in the Balkan region.
The proposed law seeks to gerrymander the Bosnian election districts to over-represent the Bosnian Croat voters of the Croat Democratic Union (HDZ) in the House of Peoples – the upper chamber of the Bosnian Parliament.
Antagonizing a Muslim-majority nation in Europe with long history of protecting Jews and Jewish heritage cannot be in Israel’s interests. As the Bosnian-Israeli opera vocalist Margit Tomik-Levy wrote in her open letter to Ambassador Gendler – Israel’s representative throughout the Balkan region from Tirana, Albania – the memorandum “spits in the face of all democratically oriented citizens of BiH, including all Bosnian Jews.”
Now is time for the Israeli government to issue a public apology to the Bosnian government and its public. Without one, Israel risks causing irreparable harm in its relationship with both Bosnia’s Muslims and Jews.