Bulgarian government proposes state honour for Bulgarian Jewish ‘Shalom’ President
Bulgaria’s government said after a Cabinet meeting on July 10 that it was proposing to the President to confer on Associate Professor Alexander Oscar, president of the Organization of the Jews in Bulgaria “Shalom”, the Order of Civil Merit First Degree.
The government recommended the honour on the grounds of Dr Oscar’s merits in the development of civil society, the protection of human rights and freedoms and the strengthening of democratic institutions in Bulgaria, the government statement said.
The recommendation that the honour be conferred was submitted by representatives of the non-governmental sector related to the protection of human rights and by medical organisations, including the Bulgarian Medical Association and the Bulgarian Society of Ophthalmology, as well as state bodies and institutions, the statement said.
Dr Oscar is head of the Ophthalmology Clinic at Alexandrovska University Hospital in Sofia, as well as being president of Shalom.
He initiated the Together against Hate Speech campaign, as well as the Tripartite Memorandum of Co-operation between the government of the Republic of Bulgaria, Shalom and the World Jewish Congress.
“Thanks to the joint efforts of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other Bulgarian institutions, in close co-operation with the Organization of the Jews in Bulgaria, in 2018 our country was accepted as a full member of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance,” the Bulgarian government said.
The letter of motivation for the award submitted to the Bulgarian government said, in part: “The non-governmental sector, related to the protection of the rights of ethnic and religious minorities, people with disabilities, refugees, people with different sexual orientation, highly appreciates the activities of the President of the Organization of the Jews in Bulgaria ‘Shalom’ Alexander Oscar.
“During his term of office, he has created a unique forum for interaction between various human rights organizations such as Marginalia, GLAS Foundation, Blue Link, the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee and others.
“The energetic public and media activity of Shalom under his leadership has made the only Jewish organisation in Bulgaria an unbeatable factor.”
The letter said that Dr Oscar had shown the extraordinary potential to provoke a serious public debate on the issues of hate speech and the fight against antisemitism.
“In the context of the disturbing rise of ultra-right parties and movements, both in Europe and in Bulgaria, personalities like him are a mark of civilisation that marks the sustainability of democracy. “
Those behind the nomination also pointed out that as a doctor with two specialties, neurology and ophthalmology, and as head of the Ophthalmology Clinic at Aleksandrovska hospital, Dr Oscar had been active in charitable activities to benefit children’s health in Bulgaria, from which many thousands of children had benefited. In all, 20 000 children have undergone eye examinations and more than 1000 pairs of spectacles have been donated.