(February 6, 2019 / JNS) A report released this week exposes anti-Semitic rhetoric used on social media by the far-right activists behind the Lukov March in Bulgaria, a torch-lit ceremony that consists of nationalists and neo-Nazis from across Europe.
The annual February march in Sofia is held in remembrance of Gen. Hristo Lukov, a Nazi ally who sent 11,300 Jews to the Nazi death camp of Treblinka in Poland.
The demonstration’s organizers have claimed not to be anti-Semitic, but comments displayed on its official Facebook page convey Jew-hatred among advocates against both Bulgarian and worldwide Jewry, according to a report from the World Jewish Congress.
For example, a Facebook post by the organizers, reacting to WJC efforts last year to stop the march, targeted the organization’s CEO and executive vice president, Robert Singer: “No mister, with a name of a brand of sewing machines, the problem of Bulgaria is not Lukov March. The problem is that there are people with too long noses like you, who are burning with desire, snooping where they do not belong. But be sure that whatever you do, General. Lukov will receive a worthy honor from the Bulgarian youth!”
“More than 50 comments were written on the post by the followers of the page, many objectively anti-Semitic in nature and tone, including: ‘Jews are the ones who sow hate in the world! Crafty and cheeky!’ and ‘These Jews want to be everywhere, they are so busybody. And then they wonder why everyone hates them,’ ” according to the WJC.
Singer said in response to the report: “The Lukov march is a reprehensible demonstration that celebrates the darkest and most inhumane moments in European history. It is extremely disconcerting to see that in 2019, neo-Nazis continue to attack Jews with hate speech and conspiracy theories, and even more appalling that their claims of innocence to that regard enable such demonstrations to continue.”
Singer also called on Facebook and other social-media networks to “step up and crack down on the intolerable and hateful rhetoric spreading on extremist pages. We will do our part to work to monitor and remove offensive and anti-Semitic material such as this post from the internet, in our efforts to help make the digital world a safe space for all.”
“Our most important task right now is to create awareness in the Bulgarian society why Lukov March has no place in Sofia. The ideas promoted by the march supporters are outright anti-democratic,” said Alexander Oscar, president of the Organization of the Jews in Bulgaria Shalom.
“We cannot pretend anymore that calls for racial purity and white supremacy are freedom of speech. They are not,” he continued. “They are hate speech, they incite division in the society, they create an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty in minorities. Bulgarian Jews and minorities of any other backgrounds deserve to feel safe in our hometown. In our own country.”
The report came as last month a stone was thrown through the windows of a Sofia synagogue.
There are between 2,000 and 6,000 Jews in Bulgaria, according to Hebrew University.