Bulgaria: Scandal as Palestinian stand politicises International Women’s Club charity bazaar in Sofia

There was outrage as the charity bazaar of the International Women’s Club in Sofia saw politicisation of the event by the Palestinian stand, which put up a poster calling on the British government to apologise for the Balfour Declaration.

To compound matters, organisers – caught up amid controversy – told the embassy of the State of Israel to remove a symbolic Wailing Wall where visitors to the charity event could write good wishes.

In an interview with The Sofia Globe, Israeli ambassador to Bulgaria Irit Lilian said that the organisers of the charity bazaar had fallen victim to political manipulation.

At the stand of the “embassy of the state of Palestine”, there were posters in which Jerusalem and other Israeli cities were declared Palestinian. There was also a poster calling on the UK to apologise for the Balfour Declaration, issued in November 1917 and considered a vital step in the founding of the State of Israel in May 1948.

Israeli ambassador Lilian took up the matter with the organisers, saying that the charity event was intended to unite, not divide, communities.

But in a disturbing development, the organisers of the charity bazaar responded by asking the Israeli ambassador to take down the symbolic rendition of the Wailing Wall. In an inscription on the obversed Wailing Wall, ambassador Lilian wrote, “Sorry, the Wailing Wall has been removed at the request of the International Women’s Club, More Politics, Less Charity”.

On the part of the Palestinian representatives, the anti-Israeli and anti-British posters were removed for a while, and then put back.

To ambassador Lilian, the actions on the part of the organisers – towards the Israeli embassy, which for many years has taken part in the charity initiative – were indicative of infantility and ignorance.

She expressed astonishment and disgust that the objection to the Palestinians’ overtly political statement about the 1917 Balfour Declaration being met with an instruction to remove the depiction of the Wailing Wall, an indisputable symbol of Judaism.

“This is a wall, sacred to Jews and to all the world, a Jewish symbol” ambassador Lilian told The Sofia Globe.

Bulgaria has good relations with the State of Israel. As a state, when under communist rule in the thrall of the Soviet Union, Bulgaria established diplomatic relations with the “State of Palestine” and continues such relations to date, with an embassy under that name in Sofia.



Clive Leviev-Sawyer

Clive Leviev-Sawyer is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of The Sofia Globe. He is the author of the book Bulgaria: Politics and Protests in the 21st Century (Riva Publishers, 2015), and co-author of the book Bulgarian Jews: Living History (The Organization of the Jews in Bulgaria 'Shalom', 2018). He is also the author of Power: A Political Novel, available via amazon.com, and, on the lighter side, Whiskers And Other Short Tales of Cats (2021), also available via Amazon. He has translated books and numerous texts from Bulgarian into English.