Warm praise for Bulgaria, Jewish community leadership, in WJC letter marking New Year 2020

Written by on January 1, 2020 in Bulgaria - Comments Off on Warm praise for Bulgaria, Jewish community leadership, in WJC letter marking New Year 2020

Warm praise for Bulgaria’s government, the leadership of the Bulgarian Jewish community and the work being done by Deputy Foreign Minister Georg Georgiev as National Co-ordinator for the Fight against Antisemitism has come in a letter from World Jewish Congress executive vice president Maram Stern.

The letter expresses great appreciation for Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s support for the Bulgarian Jewish community and his commitment to fighting antisemitism and other forms of racism in Bulgaria.

It praises the Organization of the Jews in Bulgaria “Shalom” and its president, Associate Professor Alexander Oscar, saying that under Dr Oscar’s leadership, “the small but vibrant Jewish community of Bulgaria has indeed thrived and has been an outstanding partner both for your government and for the international Jewish community in counteracting the disturbing resurgence of neo-Nazism and other forms of bigotry in Bulgaria and elsewhere in Eastern and Central Europe”.

The letter pays tribute to Sofia mayor Yordanka Fandukova and other officials for the work against the “Lukov March”, the annual February event that draws neo-Nazis to Bulgaria’s capital city Sofia for a torchlight procession in honour of a pro-Nazi Bulgarian general from the Second World War era.

Stern’s letter goes on to denounce the “B’nai Brith Lodge Carmel” as an unrepresentative group that has sought to undermine the constructive work of the government of Bulgaria and the Organization of the Jews in Bulgaria “Shalom”, together with World Jewish Congress and the State of Israel, in the fight against all manifestations of antisemitism and other forms of bigotry.

This is the full text of Maram Stern’s letter to Deputy Minister Georgiev:

“Personally and on behalf of the more than 100 Jewish communities represented by the World Jewish Congress, I want to extend to you and yours all best wishes for a happy, healthy, successful, and peaceful 2020.

I wish to reiterate to you how greatly we at the World Jewish Congress value Prime Minister Boyko Borisov’s support of the Bulgarian Jewish community and his commitment to fighting against all manifestations of antisemitism and other forms of racism in Bulgaria. I also want to express our profound gratitude and respect for your personal accomplishments and commitment in countering hatred and promoting tolerance. Since your appointment as Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and the National Coordinator for Combating Antisemitism and Preserving Memory of the Shoah, you have indeed worked tirelessly together with the Bulgarian Jewish community and other organizations to monitor and combat the rising antisemitism in your country. We commend your government for its strong support of the State of Israel as well as its public condemnation of Islamic Jihad.

We are most appreciative of your close cooperation with the Bulgarian Affiliate of the World Jewish Congress, the Organization of the Jews in Bulgaria “Shalom”, and its president, Professor Alexander Oscar. We are in full agreement with you that under his leadership, the small but vibrant Jewish community of Bulgaria has indeed thrived and has been an outstanding partner both for your government and for the international Jewish community in counteracting the disturbing resurgence of neo-Nazism and other forms of bigotry in Bulgaria and elsewhere in Eastern and Central Europe.

We greatly appreciate the efforts of the Mayor of Sofia, Ms. Yordanka Fandakova, who for years has worked to put an end to the “Lukov March”, a neo-Nazi manifestation that takes place annually on the streets of Sofia since 2003. We are proud of our cooperation with her and members of your government in publicly confronting those who espouse hatred and seek to glorify the ugliest elements of the past century. We are also deeply grateful to Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva, Deputy Mayor of Sofia Todor Chobanov, Ambassador Plamen Bonchev and the Bulgarian delegation to IHRA, the leaders of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, and the many other government representatives and representatives of Bulgarian civil society who stand proudly in solidarity with their Jewish fellow citizens.

At the same time, I want you to know that we are dismayed by the continued reprehensible declarations and actions of a small group who call themselves the B’nai Brith Lodge Carmel and who have systematically attempted to demonize the Organization of the Jews in Bulgaria “Shalom” and undermine its efforts to combat the spread of xenophobia and antisemitism in Bulgaria.

For years, the so-called B’nai Brith Lodge Carmel had systematically and maliciously fomented unfounded conspiracy theories and accused both the Bulgarian Government and the Organization of the Jews in Bulgaria “Shalom”, of being sympathetic to Nazism. By their words and actions, this unrepresentative group has sought to undermine the constructive work of the Government of Bulgaria and the Organization of the Jews in Bulgaria “Shalom”, together with World Jewish Congress and the State of Israel, in the fight against all manifestations of antisemitism and other forms of bigotry.

Please be assured that the individuals who call themselves the B’nai Brith Lodge Carmel do not represent anyone other than themselves, and we disavow their malicious statements, sentiments and behavior in the most categorical terms.

I look forward to seeing you soon in the New Year, and to continuing to work closely with you in our common fight against antisemitism, racism, intolerance, and all other bigotries.”

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