Macedonia adopts International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance's working definition of anti-Semitism

16 Mar 2018
16 Mar 2018 Facebook Twitter Email Print

The Republic of Macedonia has adopted the working definition of anti-Semitism of the International Alliance for remembering the Holocaust, the government has said in a statement. Macedonia follows Bulgaria, Romania, Lithuania, Austria, Germany, Israel, Scotland, and the United Kingdom in formally adopting the definition of the IHRA, a body in which most of the 28 EU states participate. The IHRA currently has 31 member states, as well as 11 observer countries, including Bulgaria.

The Macedonian government said that it had adopted the definition on March 6, a day after its Assembly adopted a separate declaration dedicated to 75th anniversary of Nazi deportation of 11,300 Jews from Bulgarian-administered northern Greece and Yugoslavia, who were sent to their deaths in Treblinka in 1943.  

The IHRA definition, adopted by the alliance in May 2016, defines anti-Semitism as "a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

The World Jewish Congress joined the Macedonian Jewish community on Sunday for the official commemoration ceremony in Skopje, Macedonia. The ceremony held in the presence of the Macedonian and Bulgarian prime ministers, and followed three days of separate events marking the March 10, 1943 rescue of 48,000 Jews in Bulgaria proper, whose deportations were halted at the intervention of clergymen, parliamentarians, members of the intelligentsia, and ordinary citizens alike.

This was the first time that a Bulgarian premier has taken part in anniversary commemorations of the deportation of Jews from the territory of the present-day Republic of Macedonia. In addressing the crowd, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boris Borisov said: "We came here to say that we did not forget the victims"

Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev warned in his remarks that "Only the ones who are blind toward history are bound to repeat it.”

Speaking at a special ceremony in Sofia on Saturday evening commemorating the anniversary, World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder praised the non-Jews who intervened in the deportation of Bulgarian Jews and noted that simultaneous tragedy of the communities in Bulgarian administered-lands. 

“This anniversary, 75 years after the Jews of Bulgaria were saved, is not a completely happy story. There were 11,300 Jews living in Bulgarian-administered territories in northern Greece, Eastern Serbia, and Macedonia who were deported by the Nazis and their allies and murdered in Treblinka’s gas chambers. But we are grateful for those who were saved,” said Lauder.