Jewish School in Sofia daubed with anti-Semitic graffiti

| March 25, 2010

Anti-Semitic graffiti was daubed on the walls of Sofia’s Dimcho Debelyanov School, commonly known as the Jewish School, just a few days before the start of Passover.

The incident, in which spray-paint was used to draw a Star of David equated with a Nazi swastika, was condemned by the school’s director Vessela Paldumova as an act of psychological aggression not just against Israel but also against the children at the school.

Asked by Bulgarian National Television whether the incident was not just hooliganism, Paldumova said that behind all hooliganism lay a motive.

The management of the Jewish School has informed law enforcement authorities and called for the perpetrators to be caught and punished.

The incident follows other anti-Semitic incidents in Bulgaria.

As noted in the US state department annual report on human rights, Bulgarian Jewish organisation Shalom said that anti-Semitism was not widespread, but there had been increasing reports of anti-Semitic incidents prior to the July 5 2009 national parliamentary elections.

On June 24 2009, vandals broke a memorial slab in Blagoevgrad, in the southwest of Bulgaria, before its unveiling. The memorial was dedicated to Jews from Aegean Thrace who died in the Auschwitz concentration camp.

On July 13 2009, several Molotov cocktails were thrown at the former synagogue and the Jewish school in the coastal city of Bourgas.

In 2008 a Jewish cemetery in Shoumen was desecrated; the youths were caught and ordered by the court to attend an educational programme. In January, anti-Semitic slogans, including "Juden Verboten" (Jews forbidden), were painted on the Holocaust memorial in Plovdiv.

Jewish organisations expressed concern over the lack of public reaction to these incidents from the government and the lack of successful prosecutions.

After the incident at the school – which several years back was the target of a Molotov cocktail – World ORT, which supports the school, wrote to Bulgaria’s Education Ministry saying that Bulgaria justifiably was proud of its "friendly and protective" relations with the Jewish community, the Jewish Telegraph Agency reported on March 25 2010.

"World ORT trusts that this outstanding tradition will be translated into constructive efforts to ensure that the ugly upsurge in anti-Semitism seen in so many parts of the world does not manifest itself in your beautiful country," the letter said, according to the JTA report.

Shalom said that the vandalism at the school had taken place shortly before Passover and the Christian Easter, at a time when all people should open their hearts to the good, but the vandals had sown hate which verges on terrorism.

"We appeal to citizens and to civil society to react definitely against such acts and to remember that whoever sows hate reaps storms tomorrow," Shalom said.

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Category: Synagogue/Jewish Security