H.E. Irit Lillian, Ambassador of the State of Israel to Bulgaria: ' Valeri Simeonov Should Apologize to All Jewish People'
Bulgarian Deputy Minister whose nationalist party recently joined a coalition with the center-right resigned on Wednesday after a photo emerged of him doing a Nazi salute, writes the Times of Israel. The image, taken in 2008, shows Pavel Tenev raising his right arm in front of a soldier in a wax museum in Paris.
The scandal broke after Bulgarian media discovered the picture on Tenev’s Facebook account. ‘’I do not have the Nazi ideology’’, Tenev said at a press conference in Sofia, adding that his gesture had been meant in a ‘’mocking’’ way. “The tension this has created is not helpful for the government, so I’ve asked to be released from my duties,” he said.
Sega newspaper reported him recalling how he himself had fooled around in the 1970s when he was taken as a student to the Nazi concentration camp in Buchenwald. ‘’Who knows what gag photos we made there’’, Simeonov reportedly told the journalist, threatening to sue the newspaper.
On Wendnesday, Sergei Stanishev, a former Prime Minister and President of the Party of European Socialists, PES, called Simeonov’s alleged words ‘’contradictory to European and Human values.
‘’People who treat this dark part of the history of humanity like that have no place in the governance of modern European Bulgaria’’, he said.
Novinite.com looked for the point of view of the Embassy of Israel to give their position for Veleri Simeonov’s case and we’ve talked with H.E. Irit Lillian, Ambassador of the State of Israel to Bulgaria.
Hello Mrs. Lilian. I'm glad that you accepted to talk for the situation with the Bulgarian Deputy Minister Valeri Simeonov. So, what do you think about his statement that he did not publish anything on his Facebook profile and he doesn’t even have Facebook. Also about that he is going to sue Sega Newspaper due to publishing false information.
Hello, thank you for contacting me. First of all, I am not going to relate whether he have or doesn’t have Facebook profile or whether he is going or not going to do any kind of a court procedures with Sega newspaper, because this is not the issue.
The issue is that there are curtain subjects which are definitely not subject for jokes and mockery. And one of them is the Holocaust. It doesn’t matter if this mockery is being done now or 20 years ago in Buchenwald.
There are few people in this world that remember the Holocaust, that went through it.
For them, even to hear such quotation or somebody looking at Buchenwald as a possible environment for mockery is inadmissible.
We deeply, deeply condemn such reactions and such treatment of this very serious problem, on a very serious subject. We are taking it very seriously.
What do you think he should do now?
What he should do is to apologize at least for all the victims and survivals of the Holocaust who heard and who were exposed to the way he was speaking.
When he said ‘’That was 20 year ago when I visited Buchenwald and we might made some jokes and mockery ‘’ I can say that there are subject that are not subjects of mockery not 20 years ago and not now and not tomorrow.
He is a leader, he is a politician that is a deputy of the Prime Minister.
He should served as a model, he should apologize.
The Rescue of Bulgarian Jews was a historical event that consisted of the planned rescue of about 50,000 Jews living on Bulgarian soil in the period 1943-1945. The most notable people behind the rescue were Dimitar Peshev and Exarch Stefan of Bulgaria and Kiril, Metropolitan of Plovdiv, who managed to overcome Bulgaria's pro-Nazi bureaucracy and convince the then-tsar Boris III to stand behind Bulgarian Jewry. The deportations, set to take place after the arrival of the Holocaust trains on March 10, 1943, were never carried out. The rescue has been praised by public figures worldwide, including former Israeli President Shimon Peres.
Many Jews outside Bulgaria may be surprised as well as taken aback by the Nazi salute stunt, as Bulgaria was historically considered friendly to Jews, in contrast to neighbouring Romania. Notably, the country refused to deport its Jewish community to Nazi Germany during the Second World War – although it did deport Jews from occupied Macedonia. After the war and the communist takeover, most emigrated to Israel.
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