Organizations insist on suspension of the state financial support for Toma Belev

by npetrov
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Toma Belev’s mockery: “The cheapest transport was provided to the Jews in freight cars – entirely free of charge.”
Representatives of the Jewish community in Bulgaria strongly condemn the scandalous remark of Toma Belev, according to whom “The cheapest transport was provided to the Jews in freight cars – entirely free of charge.” Genuinely angered, they all support the opinion that the outrageous statement of the candidate for municipal councilor in Sofia in the list of the party Democratic Bulgaria is ridiculous and absurd.
Belev’s commentary mocks the Holocaust and also violates the norms laid out in many international and Bulgarian documents adopted by the UN, the Council of the European Union and the Bulgarian Parliament. In front of Trud the representatives of the Jewish community in Bulgaria were adamant that the hate speech used by Belev in his post is inadmissible.
Today Trud’s editorial office received a copy of a letter from the Bulgarian Zionist Federation in which the Chair of the organization Yakov Dzherasi urges the prime minister Boyko Borisov to dismiss Toma Belev from his position in the Civil Society Advisory Council to the Council of Ministers.
Trud also contacted other leaders of Jewish organizations in Bulgaria to ask for their opinion on Belev’s scandalous statement
Sofia Cohen, Chair of the Central Israelite Religious Council:
No country would tolerate such a statement. His words are quite abusive, even if Belev claims that he did not mean this as a mockery. We cannot accept it, because he is talking about the deportation of the Jews to the camps of death outside of the historical context, just trying to be clever. This is inadmissible when the Holocaust is concerned. Such a statement would not be tolerated by any country. In this case he should be very careful about what he is saying, because he carries some responsibility by representing a party. We chose to accept his apology and to close the question because we don’t want to make a bigger deal out of it. On the other hand, we cannot remain silent when such things happen. It is a fact, that he did not apologize straight away. Initially he did not admit that he had made a mistake which shows that he was not aware of the mistake. Belev even claimed that our reaction is a political campaign against him. We cannot accept such ridiculous accusations.
Associate Prof. Aleksandar Oskar, Chair of the Organization of the Jews in Bulgaria Shalom:
It is ridiculous for a politician to make such a statement in his pre-election campaign. It even looks like he regrets apologizing. This disappointed the whole Jewish community and we are all shocked by his insolence. On Friday Shalom contacted Belev asking him to delete his comment. He did not, and even published a separate post, obviously aiming to draw the attention of the voters. In it he ridiculed our complaint. On Saturday he wrote a half-hearted apology, after which we decided not to politicize the issue. Looking for political dividends, Belev has engaged supporters to speculate that the indignant community serves political interests aimed at discrediting him. The speech of hatred is inadmissible. Any statement in this vein is reprehensible. Obviously Belev is looking for political dividends by using irony in his pre-election campaign, which is grotesque.
Viktor Melamed, director of the American Jewish Committee in Bulgaria:
I doubt that I will say something different from what all normal people think. Indeed, this is an absolutely ill-judged, crazy statement. I cannot even understand the humor that Toma Belev attempted to convey with his words. There are things about which people simply cannot joke and this is one of them. The Holocaust is something that should not even be mentioned, especially in the way Toma Belev did. I do not know him personally. I have heard both good and bad things about him, but I am truly sorry that he has allowed himself to make such a statement. The worst of all is that he did not find the strength to apologize with dignity. The apology that Belev published in his Facebook profile was not genuine. People definitely do not like this type of behavior. He probably has some merits in order to be appointed at the positions he is holding at the moment. From here onwards it is up to other people to decide whether he should continue to hold them and if his opinion should continue to be respected.
Yakov Dzherasi, Chair of the Bulgarian Zionist Federation:
“Dear Prime Minister, I am writing in connection to the latest public comments of Mr. Toma Belev regarding the connection between the deportation of Jews during WW2 and the current transport practices in Sofia. Refraining from any harsh language, I would like to ask you to dismiss Mr. Toma Belev from his post as a member of the Civil Society Advisory Council to the Council of Ministers. After years of propagating the idea that Bulgaria is a source of tolerance not only towards Jews but to all other nations and peoples, I believe, that Mr. Belev does not deserve an official post of any kind or official association and financial support from any Bulgarian state institution. The World Zionist Organization is appalled by the words of Toma Belev and advises the Bulgarian Parliament to firmly distance itself from people showing such antisemitic tendencies and attitudes.”

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