2022-07-31 19:01:00

President: The Bulgarian people not only rescued their Jewish community from Nazism, but also rescued the ideal of humanism and the dignity of Europe

The Head of State awarded the Presidential Medal of Honour to David Harris, CEO of the American Jewish Committee

The story of the fate of the Bulgarian Jews rescued from the death camps should not be forgotten, just as the memory of those who died is honoured, because it is a story of an unparalleled feat. It is a lesson in humanity, humanism and kindness. Today's ceremony is an expression of appreciation for the significant personal contribution of David Harris in upholding and promoting the unprecedented historic act of the rescue nearly 50,000 Bulgarian Jews during World War II. This was stated by Head of State Rumen Radev, who today awarded David Harris, Executive Director of the American Jewish Committee, with the Presidential Medal of Honour.

David Harris is honoured for his outstanding contribution to the development of friendly ties between the Bulgarian and the Jewish people, the strengthening of democratic values, the protection of human rights, and the fight against anti-Semitism and all forms of discrimination.

During the ceremony, President Rumen Radev highlighted the importance of the upcoming joint commemoration next year of the 80th anniversary of the rescue of the Bulgarian Jewish community.  We are proud of the fact that it was our people who managed not only to rescue their Jewish community but also helped thousands of others to escape from the countries occupied by the Nazi regime. In this way, our country also rescued the ideal of humanism and the dignity of Europe in one of the darkest periods of history, the Head of State pointed out. In his words, today, when the shadow of the past is rising again, it is the memory of this feat that helps us fight against all manifestations of discrimination and in defence of democratic values.

President Radev pointed to the active work of David Harris, who has been the head of the American Jewish Committee for more than 30 years. The Head of State highlighted his contribution to the Committee's extensive and meaningful cooperation with Bulgaria and the Bulgarian Jewish community. We highly appreciate the Committee's decision of 2018 to open its sixth office in Europe in the capital of Bulgaria as a sign of the long-standing friendly relations between the Bulgarian and Jewish peoples, full of understanding and mutual respect, Rumen Radev said. The Head of State expressed confidence that the Bulgarian side will continue its full cooperation on all initiatives, causes and projects that strengthen the common struggle against xenophobia, anti-Semitism and discrimination in all its varieties, as well as for the preservation of the Jewish cultural heritage in Bulgaria.

David Harris expressed his appreciation for the award. The rescue of 50,000 Jews during World War II was a remarkable moment of light in a period of great darkness. I believe that Bulgaria today, as extremism once again is on the rise and anti-Semitism is on the rise, Bulgaria's voice needs to be heard globally to help the world understand the spirit that inspired those in Bulgaria - the civil society, and the parliament, and the church and elsewhere to extend their protection to the Jews, said David Harris. He stressed that there is a need now for the lessons that Bulgaria can pass on by its example and expressed the hope that this will happen.

The ceremony was attended by Victor Melamed, Director of the American Jewish Committee's Bulgarian office, and Alexander Oscar, President of the Organization of Jews in Bulgaria "Shalom". The opportunities for cooperation and joint initiatives related to the celebration of the upcoming 80th anniversary of the rescue of Bulgarian Jews in 2023 were discussed by President Rumen Radev and David Harris during a meeting after the ceremony.




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