Dr. Elena Zaharieva, Bulgaria @ BICSA (Berlin International Center for the Study of Antisemitism): How successive governments and the media in Bulgaria are feeding conspiracy theories and anti-Semitism
"[...] Holding exactly 50% of the seats in the Parliament, the coalition fell hostage to the ultra-nationalist Ataka, on which it relies for Parliamentary majority. This is how the outspoken antisemite and infamous vandal Volen Siderov and the 22 far right extremists who constitute his parliamentary group became the key ally of the fragile socialist-led coalition government. [...]
|Siderov avec Marine Le Pen (Paris 2011)|
It’s alarming that the reactions by authorities and the media to xenophobic outbursts on TV and radio stations are spineless at best, and that this kind of behaviour is not limited to Ataka and its supporters[vii]. When Misho Shamara (Misho-the-Smack), a rap singer who became the face of pro-government demonstrations, made a blatantly anti-Semitic comment on the nationwide TV7 calling former finance minister Simeon Dyankov “a worthless Jewish vermin”, the ruling Socialists not only did not react, but few days later they readily accepted a petition in support of their government brought to them by the same person.[viii] [...]
After the Borisov government had been tolerant to Siderov, the current government gave him a leading role, and the mainstream media gave him a tribune, public conscious has been anaesthetized, xenophobia has been legitimized and even for the conscientious ones anti-Semitism and conspiracy theories have become an unimportant side effect of the political manipulations in our troubled country. [...]
The day Hezbollah was officially incriminated for the Burgas bus bombing, in an article entitled “The dirty order of the Israeli Prime-Minister” Siderov wrote the following: “For many years no country wanted to play the dirty games of Tel Aviv, to call Hezbollah a terrorist organization and justify an attack on Lebanon, Syria or Iran. This is the plan of those who determine matters in the World, who instigate wars …, this is the plan which the Bulgarian government has walked in blindly, like a calf following its mother, without a thought of the future of our nation.”[x] There is no surprise in Siderov blaming Israel for involving Bulgaria in its “dirty games”, the big problem is that a pantheon of Arabists, analysts, left-wing politicians and mainstream journalists echoed his message.
In February 2013 it became an everyday scenario to hear PM Boiko Borisov or FM Nikolay Mladenov confirming the results from the investigation and rejecting the accusations that they have acted under pressure from the US and Israel, and then members from the BSP, Arabists and journalists to come out and try to feed uncertainty and even conspiracy theories again. It didn’t help matters that authorities made bolder statements for the foreign media and more hesitant ones in Bulgarian for internal use. In statements in English the evidence was “solid”, in Bulgarian it was “reasonable”.
The general atmosphere in the media in the last month of the Borisov government can be summarized in a statement made by journalist Georgi Milkov from the popular newspaper “24 chasa”: “Bulgaria has been pushed into a [Israeli] scheme that starts with Hezbollah and ends with Iran”.[xi] On the 15th of February the same Georgi Milkov conducted a rather friendly interview with three Hamas officials who had entered Bulgaria under unclear circumstances.[xii] Ismail al-Ashqar, Salah al-Bardawil and Mushir al-Masri had been invited by the Center for Global and Middle East Studies (MESBG). The director of the organization, Mohammed Abu Assi – a Palestinian holding Bulgarian citizenship, stated that he invited the Hamas MPs in an attempt to “improve Bulgaria’s image in the Arab world” and “to prove that Bulgaria is not an absolutely pro-Israel country” after the country’s government “made a blunder” by blaming Hezbollah for the 2012 bus bombing.[xiii] Hamas official Ismail al-Ashqar told Georgi Milkov that Bulgaria is the gate to Europe and so it can “spread our message” among Europeans. Milkov did not feel the need to ask al-Ashqar inconvenient questions about the terrorist nature of the organization whose message he wanted him to spread. SUITE.