A declaration signed by more than 400 members of the Bulgarian Jewish community expresses great concern about increasing covert and overt antisemitic acts and statements and calls on Bulgarian institutions, politicians, public figures and media to not remain indifferent to the rising antisemitism, xenophobia and hate speech in the country.
The text of the declaration, made public on July 20 by the Organization of the Jews in Bulgaria Shalom, says:
The undersigned Bulgarian citizens of Jewish origin, Bulgarian Jews and Jews permanently living and working for the future of our country,
Believing that the Bulgarian society gave equal rights and obligations to everyone with the Turnovo Constitution of 1879 and which, in spite of state repression and restrictions on Jews in the 1940s, showed heroism and defended their fellow citizens, has been continuing for 30 years now and will continue to defend democratic values, preventing xenophobia, racism and divisions from undermining the foundations of tolerance in our society;
Concerned by the strengthening of covert and overt anti-Semitic manifestations and speech, uncharacteristic of the traditions and national character of the Bulgarian people;
Realizing that any attempt to oppose these actions and speech by individuals, organizations and structures of the Jewish community in Bulgaria is demonized and defined as politically motivated, and the representatives of the Jewish community in Bulgaria stigmatized as ungrateful and serving foreign interests.
With great concern, we state clearly and categorically:
Bulgarian Jews are Bulgarian citizens with equal rights and obligations like all other citizens. Each of us is working and creating according to our strengths and opportunities for the good and development of Bulgarian society.
Although we have different views and diverse opinions on public issues, we have a clear and unambiguous position towards hate speech, xenophobia and antisemitism, and the Organization of Jews in Bulgaria Shalom is an exponent of this position and we stand behind it in any attempt to undermine its fight against these manifestations and speech – both by political leaders and public figures.
We, the Bulgarian Jews, remember and are sincerely and unreservedly grateful to the Bulgarian Orthodox Church and people for the rescue of the Bulgarian Jews during the Second World War, and we will pass on these lessons of humanity with pride to each succeeding generation. But we will not forget the infamous Defence of the Nation Act and the repressions and persecutions that our predecessors faced, and we will oppose openly and loudly all attempts to erase, distort or use this history in the modern political discourse in the country.
We will continue to work according to our strengths, knowledge and skills for the good of our country and society, as we have always done and as is expected of every Bulgarian.
We will not allow people or institutions to determine the qualities and classify the Jews or any social group in Bulgaria and to be divided into categories: grateful or ungrateful, useful or harmful. All of us, as Bulgarians, are answerable to the same laws and have equal freedoms, and any restriction of these freedoms is reprehensible.
We appeal to the Bulgarian institutions, politicians, public figures and media should not remain indifferent to the rising antisemitism, xenophobia and hate speech in Bulgaria and react to every manifestation of intolerance in society.
We know that despite the suggestions and statements of certain individuals using their political capital to sow hatred, Bulgarian citizens and institutions are wise and reasonable, respect the laws and norms of society and will join us in stopping these disturbing phenomena.”
The declaration was made public a few days after there was widespread condemnation of a montage posted on the Telegram channel of pro-Kremlin minority party Vuzrazhdane, depicting former foreign minister Solomon Passi – who is of Jewish descent – being grasped by people dressed in Nazi uniforms, with the caption: “If you don’t want Russian gas, have some of ours”.
The presentation of the declaration, in Sofia Synagogue, was attended by – among others – Passi and by Daniel Lorer, who when in office as a Cabinet minister in 2022, also was targeted for antisemitic smears.
The US State Department, in the section on Bulgaria in its 2022 International Religious Freedom report, said: “Antisemitic rhetoric continued to appear regularly in online comments and on social networking sites, in online media articles, and in the mainstream press.
“Antisemitic graffiti, including swastikas and offensive slurs, appeared in public places. The Jewish nongovernmental organization (NGO) Shalom reported incidents of antisemitic hate speech online, including numerous antisemitic comments following a September posting alleging Jewish responsibility for a 14th-century historical event. It also reported continued vandalism of Jewish cemeteries and monuments,” the report said.
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