Bulgarian President Hails Strategic Partnership with Israel
Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev has praised his country’s partnership with Israel, according to his press office.
During his visit to the US, Plevneliev met with representatives of some of the most influential American Jewish organizations, bestowing them with badges of honor commemorating the heroic rescue of Bulgaria's Jews during WW II.
Plevneliev said there was a “strategic partnership” between Bulgaria and Israel, noting that his country seeks more investments in high-tech centers.
He called for a more direct cooperation between Bulgaria and Israel in a number of economic sectors, including the IT, health and food industries.
“I would also like to continue our cooperation in international politics,” he said, as cited by Mediapool.
In 2013, Bulgaria is marks 70 years since the events that prevented the sending of its 48,000-strong Jewish community in 1943 to Nazi death camps.
- » Deputy Foreign Min Represents Bulgaria at Mandela Memorial Service
- » Bulgaria Says Hoping to See Ukraine Closer to EU
- » Bulgarian President: Never Has the World Been So United in Mourning
- » Bulgaria's Foreign Minister: Mandela Left Mark on Humanity
- » Bulgaria Reiterates Support for Kosovo's EU Entry Bid
- » Bulgaria, Romania to Boost Parliamentary Cooperation over Schengen
A major question is why more than 90% of Bulgaria's Jews chose to exit the country en masse in 1949-49, largely to Israel. By August 1949, almost no Jews were left in the country, perhaps some 4,000 according to press reports at the time (goo.gl/L45dsD). In 1940, there were 5,900 Jews in Plovdiv. By 1949, their number had plummeted to 1,220. Some will acknowledge that this was a great loss to the city and postwar Bulgaria.
There is much historical research and discussion on the details of the rescue of the ca. 48,000 Jews here in 1943, but FAR LESS HISTORICAL INQUIRY in depth on the mass exodus and its various motives. Families left their homes, communities abandoned their synagogues. This exodus was unprecedented at the time from any socialist country in Europe's East, organized by the Jewish Agency, the Sochnut. Indeed, Israeli government statistics indicate that 43,961 Jews from Bulgaria emigrated to Israel between 1948 and 2006, making Bulgarian Jews the fourth largest group in Israel to come from a European country (after SU, Romania, Poland). This despite very large Jewish communities in Great Britain and France, for example. A remarkable fact.
The irony of Bulgarian Jewish history is that Bulgaria rescued its Jewish community from Holocaust destruction (despite all hardships they suffered here 1940-44), but lost most of its Jewish community in 1948-49, and today has one of the smallestl Jewish communities in Europe. Why? Why rescue, then a veritable tidal wave of exodus?
A strong Zionist movement here in the 1930s is not a sufficient explanation. Suffering, discrimination, hardship and labor camps under the regime of Boris III are also probably not a sufficient reason for such flight. A widespread dislike for the new socialist government and its policies in its earliest period likewise probably not a sufficent reason or major factor either. Enough Jews, esp. from more working-class families, were committed anti-fascists, young socialists.
Moreover, the emigrating Jews faced considerable hardship in Israel in 1949 and the early 1950s, despite assistance from the Sochnut --- many housed in former Arab apartments in the old port city of Jaffa incorporated into Tel Aviv, and elsewhere as new immigrants in a newborn country where life was far from easy and salaries were quite low.
Some will argue Bulgaria has never recovered from this loss of its talented, largely urban Sephardic Jewish community, today in Israel a strong middle class. These questions need more open airing and discussion here.