Bulgarian Cemetery Vandalized, but Anti-semitism Not a Motive

The Jewish community of Bulgaria said Wednesday that vandals who damaged the Jewish section of the old cemetery in the city of Ruse on Monday night appear not to have been motivated by anti-Semitism or nationalism.

A statement released by Eddie Schwartz, president of Shalom, the Organization of Jews in Bulgaria, said the community was satisfied with conclusions reached by the police. The investigation was monitored by the organization’s local branch in Ruse, a city of 185,000 on the Danube River at the border with Romania.

The statement said the community was also satisfied with the reactions of various public and state institutions that denounced the desecration and of public opinion in general.

The report to the Interior Ministry by the local police commander, Lt. Col. A. Stefanov, said inspection of the damage indicated that the Jewish section had been hit because it is closest to the eastern edge of the cemetery, which borders a field with no visible fence.

“We have the impression that the tombstones were damaged at random because they are arranged in rows, and the closest two rows to the end had the most damage,” the police report said.

According to the report, 25 out of 65 gravestones were damaged.

The report concluded that the desecration was the kind of isolated incident “which, alas, happens periodically.

“There is no ground to consider that this is an act which has a nationalistic or party background, because there is similar damage to tombstones in other (non-Jewish) parts of the cemetery,” the police report said.

A statement by Shalom on Monday described “many broken monuments. They erased names and dates and stole marble sculptures.”

It called for a government response to match the strong pro-Jewish response in France, including that of high government figures, when unknown vandals desecrated the ancient Jewish cemetery in Carpentras, France, in May 1990.

In reporting the cemetery vandalism, the Jewish community noted other recent anti-Semitic activity in Bulgaria, including graffiti on the Albert Einstein School in Sofia and publication of an anti-Semitic book, “The World Conspiracy.”

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