Rumen Radev: Professor Bar-Zohar Remained Throughout His Entire Life a Model of a True Bulgarian Patriot
Although the Bulgarian state may have a lot of ambassadors in the world, the Bulgarian people has few real ambassadors and these are personalities such as professor Michael Bar-Zohar. This is what President Rumen Radev said, who awarded the Stara Planina First Class order to the born in Bulgaria world-famous Israeli writer, historian and politician. The medal is presented for his contribution to popularizing the rescue of the Bulgarian Jews during World War II and to the development of the bilateral relations between Bulgaria and Israel.
The highest state order is an expression of our recognition of professor Bar-Zohar’s efforts and actions dedicated to letting the world know the truth about the rescue of the Bulgarian Jews during one of the darkest periods of European civilization, President Rumen Radev said at the ceremony. The Head of State noted that the Israeli historian, who left our country at the age of 10 in 1948, remained throughout his entire life a model of a true Bulgarian patriot.
Rumen Radev identified the rescue of the Bulgarian Jews as a bright moment of national pride. “In those years of mortal danger and ignorantism a whole people stood up to defend its fellow citizens, united by virtues and values that way back in history the representatives of the Bulgarian national revival bequeathed to us.
Professor Bar-Zohar, for his part, said that the high order is an award for the Bulgarian people, because the rescue of the Bulgarian Jews is namely its deed, although today “some fake historians” try to identify other rescuers. So far I have tried to spread this information. However, all of us who can, should make this fact known to the whole world, Professor Bar-Zohar called for.
He said that he always remembers his father’s words, who when leaving Bulgaria said through tears that the Jews are leaving a favorite country, which has displayed a good attitude to them. This is what professor Bar-Zohar said about this moment of his life: “Every time I hear the national anthem “Dear motherland” I think about that day in 1948 when we set off from Bulgaria through Yugoslavia to Israel by a freight train. When we passed the border, the train stopped because of an administrative problem and we all got off – then 1,000 people turned towards the Bulgarian border and one man started to sing, then a second one and a third one. In a couple of minutes there was a big choir of 1,000 people singing “Dear motherland” in a beautiful valley and my father and mother were singing and crying.”
Professor Bar-Zohar said that Bulgaria made Israel a great gift since the Bulgarian Jews have contributed to the development of Israel’s policy and public life. These people remain Bulgarians because they have a special attitude to Bulgaria as a country that should be an example for the whole world, Professor Bar-Zohar explained. In his words, although both Bulgaria and Israel are small countries, they have moral principles and this is one of the lessons drawn from the rescue of the Bulgarian Jews. Although we do not have natural resources, we have a moral heritage. So that when human rights are infringed, no matter how “small” we are, we should fight against such a thing and set an example of how a small David can defeat a huge Goliath, Professor Bar-Zohar called for.
The ceremony held in the coat-of-arms hall at 2 Dondukov street was attended by President (1997-2002) Petar Stoyanov, diplomats and public figures.