Round table in Sofia to discuss ‘antisemitism today’

A round table is to be held in Sofia to discuss the topic of antisemitism today, according a Bulgarian media report.

Participants in the event, to be held at the University of Library and Information Technology, on June 11, include Jacob Djerassi, Emil Kalo, Ivo Hristov, Sabrie Sapundzhieva and Eliezer Sandberg, the report said.

Djerassi, described in the report as the president of the World Zionist Organisation, is a business person who was involved in the return visit to Bulgaria by Simeon Saxe-Coburg as Bulgaria began its transition to democracy.

In 2013, Djerassi was among the few to mount a public defence of the appointment of Delyan Peevski to head the State Agency for National Security, saying that Peevski had been instrumental in assisting Saxe-Coburg to form his cabinet and was “brave” in facing the task of cleaning up the agency. In a December 2017 interview with Trud, he is reported to have said that Bulgarian Jews and the embassy of Israel reject the important role of Tsar Boris III, the father of Saxe-Coburg, in the rescue of the Bulgarian Jews from the Holocaust.

Kalo, a doctor of philosophy and formerly president of the Organization of the Jews in Bulgaria “Shalom” from 1998 to 2007, is a founding member of the “ABC” party, initiated by then-president Georgi Purvanov in 2010 as a civic movement. The movement became a party officially in 2014 and Kalo the head of its Sofia branch in 2017, and is a member of the party’s executive bureau. He is the representative in Bulgaria of World ORT.

Sabrie Sapundzhieva is a member of the Commission for the Protection against Discrimination. As member of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, she was deputy minister of justice in the 2005/09 tripartite coalition government of the Bulgarian Socialist Party, MRF and Saxe-Coburg’s party, and held the same post in the 2013/14 “Oresharski” administration. From 2002 to 2005, she was a legal adviser to then-president Purvanov.

Ivo Hristov, a socialist member of the National Assembly not to be confused with the recently-elected BSP member of the European Parliament of the same name, has been involved in controversies related to history.

In November 2017, there was a row in Bulgaria after Hristov expressed support for a claim by a Russian foreign ministry spokesperson that it was the Soviet Red Army that had saved the Bulgarian Jews from the Holocaust. Leaving aside other matters of dispute, such as the role of Boris III, the most widely-accepted view of the rescue is that it was the accomplishment of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, some political leaders, intellectuals and members of civil society, as well as ordinary Bulgarians.

A few months earlier, there was another controversy, over allegations that Hristov had told a meeting that the Bolshevik October revolution had been a “Jewish pogrom” that led to the liquidation of the Russian empire. Hristov strenuously denied the allegation of having said this and said at the time that he would take legal action. Kalo said on his Facebook page that Hristov had contacted him to deny the allegations, and posted that he believed Hristov.

Sandberg is an Israeli former politician who was minister of science and technology in 2003 and 2004, when he became minister of national infrastructure, a post he held until December 2004, when his centrist party left the government.

(Photo, of antisemitic graffiti in Lithuania in 2005: Beny Shlevich)



The Sofia Globe staff

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