Ellis Shuman

The Bulgarian Connection

The attack on Israeli tourists in Burgas was also an attack on Israeli-Bulgarian friendship.

“They didn’t give me aspirin and wouldn’t let me go to the bathroom.” These were the words of one of the Israelis sequestered in the Burgas airport terminal in the hours after a terrorist bomb exploded on a bus of tourists killing 8 people, including 6 Israelis.

Overnight, a team of Israeli doctors and Magen David Adom paramedics arrived in Bulgaria to check the medical condition of the more than 30 Israelis injured in the terror attack, some of whom suffered serious, life-threatening injuries.

The Israeli tourists, many of them teenagers enjoying their last vacation before enlistment in the Israeli Defense Forces, welcomed the arrival of the team from home with a warm round of applause.

Let’s face it. Bulgaria doesn’t have the experience in dealing with a terrorist attack of this magnitude.

Bulgaria’s president was quick to state that his country hadn’t received any concrete warnings from the Mossad that a terrorist attack on Bulgarian soil was imminent. Israeli officials responded by stating that although the Bulgarian security forces had failed to fully secure the airport terminal in Burgas, there were no indications that Bulgaria was a terrorist target at this time.

Israeli-Bulgarian friendship and cooperation has never been higher. Israeli medics said that the Bulgarian doctors and nurses provided the best medical care they could to the injured tourists. Israeli police and army officers are due to arrive in Bulgaria to help investigate the attack.

Having lived and worked in Bulgaria for two years, I know that the country’s citizens have a high regard for Israel and the Jewish People. This strong friendship goes back many generations. After all, despite siding with the Nazis in World War Two, Bulgaria was the only country that refused to hand over its Jewish citizens and its entire population of 50,000 Jews was spared the horrors of the Holocaust.

Talking with the average Bulgarian one learns that everyone seems to have an uncle living in Jaffa, or a friend who went to Jerusalem. The names Peres and Netanyahu are well-known in Bulgaria. A team of Bulgarian fire-fighters came to Israel to help fight the Carmel forest fire in December 2010.

Terrorists don’t attack where security is tight and where attacks are expected, they go for the jugular where security is weak.

Unfortunately, Bulgaria has learned a lesson that it, like other nations, must beef up its security. Israeli-Bulgarian cooperation and friendship should grow as a result of this terrorism, and if that happens, the terrorists will fail to achieve their ultimate goals.

About the Author
Ellis Shuman made aliya to Jerusalem as a teenager, served in the IDF, was a founding member of a kibbutz, and now lives on Moshav Neve Ilan. Ellis is the author of ‘The Burgas Affair’ – a crime thriller set in Israel and Bulgaria; ‘Valley of Thracians’ - a suspense novel set in Bulgaria; and 'The Virtual Kibbutz' - a collection of short stories. His writing has appeared in The Times of Israel, The Huffington Post, The Jerusalem Post, Israel Insider, and on a wide range of Internet websites. Ellis lived with his wife for two years in Bulgaria, and blogs regularly about Israel, Bulgaria, books, and writing.