BRUSSELS (JTA) – A Jewish group in Bulgaria protested the co-operation of other Jewish organizations with a nationalist lawmaker at the European Parliament.
In a letter sent Monday by the Sofia lodge of the B’nai B’rith Jewish lobby group, lodge president Solomon Bali chided the Simon Wiesenthal Center over its co-operation with Angel Dzhambazki, who represents in Brussels the Bulgarian nationalist VMRO Party, a member of the European Conservatives & Reformists bloc.
Last week, Dzhambazki co-hosted, along with the Wiesenthal Center and the European Jewish Association, a conference at parliament on Hamas’ anti-Semitism. Shimon Samuels, the centre’s director of international affairs, said the meeting was part of a series that is exposing groups to Hamas’ anti-Semitism at each of the European countries’ parliaments that voted in favour of recognizing a Palestinian state last year and earlier in 2015.
“You can see Dzhambazki supporting all anti-gay, anti-Roma, anti-migrant and ultra-nationalist violent events,” Bali wrote. “It is ridiculous to see Jewish organizations giving legitimacy to such MEPs,” or members of the European Parliament.
A senior representative of Bulgarian Jewry disputed this characterization. Speaking anonymously because he was not authorized to speak on individual political parties, the representative said: “Dzhambazki is a nationalist and his party may have issues with Roma, but there is nothing to prevent co-operating with him, or almost any other politician.”
The Shalom Organization of Jews in Bulgaria, the community’s main representative body, is open to co-operation with all parties, including VMRO, except for the far-right Ataka Party, a Shalom spokesperson told JTA Tuesday.
Dzhambazki denied Bali’s allegations. He is a “supporter of the fight against anti-Semitism across Europe, as well as being sympathetic to issues of concern for Europe’s Jewish communities,” the EJA, a co-organizer of the June 30 conference on Hamas, wrote about Dzhambazki in a statement following Bali’s letter. “His party is a mainstream right wing organization.”