Putin’s Power Play for Libya

Putin’s Power Play for Libya

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After Syria, Russia looks to become the indispensable nation in determining Libyas future.

Malta is terrified. The tiny Mediterranean island nation sitting between North Africa and mainland Europe is on the front lines of a growing wave of African migrants. Last year, a record 160,000 migrants and refugees set out for Europe, many of them reaching Malta’s waters first. This number was up from 138,000 in 2015. Now Malta, fearing 2017 will be worse, is sounding the alarm.

One reason for Malta’s increased concern is Russia’s sudden entrance into Libyan affairs.

Malta is worried that Putin’s increasing support for Gen. Khalifa Haftar, the eastern Libyan warlord, could spark a civil war in Libya causing thousands of migrants to flee, reminiscent of the situation in Syria. Since nato ousted Muammar Qadhafi (a Russian ally) in 2011, Libya has been divided between two rival governments, one in the east and one in the west. In 2015, the United Nations (led mainly by European diplomats) brokered a deal that recognized the Tripoli-based western government as the sole representative of the Libyan people, and installed Fayez al-Sarraj as its head. The deal left the eastern government and especially General Haftar, the leader of its armed forces, out in the cold.

Instead of siding with the UN-backed government, Russia is now overtly courting Haftar and jeopardizing the Europeans’ goal of how Libya should be stabilized. In January, Haftar was seen aboard the Russian aircraft carrierKuznetsov, docked off the Libyan coast. On February 1, the Times of Malta reported that around 70 wounded soldiers from Haftar’s army had been sent to Russia for treatment. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s support comes at the same time Haftar is slowly moving his army westward, fighting jihadists along the way.

Last month, Maltese Foreign Minister George Vella warned that “Haftar with his army is moving gradually, slowly from the east to the west … and possibly, eventually linking up with his colleagues from the west, from Zintane, and advancing in a pincer movement on the region of Bani Walid, Misrata, and Tripoli.” Haftar’s advance is disastrous, warned Vella, “because it would create civil war and it would create more refugees running away from Libya.”

European officials gathered in Malta last weekend agreed to pledge €200 million (us$215 million) to bolster the EU-backed government based in Western Libya. The hope is that a stronger western government will prevent a crisis, which will in turn prevent migrants from fleeing toward Europe. However, most European leaders realize that without Russia’s support, the money is unlikely to prevent a crisis and stem the flow of migrants. And Putin will probably be unwilling to give his support, at least not until he has extracted something in return.

Leonid Bershidsky wrote for Bloomberg View last week:

At an informal summit on Malta on Friday the leaders of European Union states affirmed their support for the UN-backed government, run from Tripoli by Prime Minister Fayez Mustafa al-Serraj. They also backed a deal Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni signed on Thursday with Serraj. Italy is taking the lead in funding the construction of refugee camps in Libya, and the EU as a whole recently earmarked an additional 200 million euros ($215 million) for its efforts to keep potential migrants in Libya, Tunisia and Niger.But refugees are not Putin’s priority in Libya. He’s far more interested in restoring Russian influence there, and establishing a military presence if he can.

Even the Maltese foreign minister declared, “I’m not comfortable. We all know the Russians’ dreams have always been to have bases in the Mediterranean.”

While it’s unlikely that Russia will have a base in Eastern Libya anytime soon, the Kremlin is quickly making itself indispensable in Libya. In the aftermath of the Malta conference, the Times reported yesterday that European nations are even reaching out to Russia for help in stabilizing Libya:

Italy is turning to Russia to help combat the immigration crisis, despite warnings from European allies about Vladimir Putin’s motives. “Italy has always had close ties with Russia, and now that we want a peaceful, unified Libya, we will be happy if Russia wants it too,” Mario Giro, the Italian deputy foreign minister, said.

The fact that Russia is even in the discussion regarding securing Libya’s future is simply astounding. A year and a half ago, the world watched in shock as Russia sent its troops into Syria to support the regime. Some leaders predicted Russia would get stuck in the Syrian quagmire. That didn’t happen. Now, with its presence in Syria secure, Russia is beginning to also focus on Libya. Clearly, the balance of power in the Middle East and Mediterranean region is shifting in favor of Russia. “That Russia is in the process of achieving day by day a role in determining the balance … in the Middle East and now in the Mediterranean—it’s a role that must be acknowledged,” said Leonardo Tricarico, a retired Italian general who presides over the Intelligence Culture and Strategic Analysis Foundation, a Rome-based think tank.

It’s unlikely Putin will intervene in Libya nearly to the extent he did in Syria. But he doesn’t need to. By simply supporting the rival government, Putin gives himself the power to destabilize or stabilize Libya. Put another way, Putin has the power to slow the migrants from coming into Europe, or to send them north by the tens of thousands.

This gives Putin enormous leverage against Europe. Libya can now be added to his hand of cards, which already includes Syria, Ukraine, Cyprus and even Afghanistan. So far, Putin has not played his hand. Europe, however, recognizes that right now Putin has the upper hand.

This swift shift in the balance of power through the Middle East points to the key role Vladimir Putin is now playing, a role that was forecast centuries ago in the Bible. Prophecy also indicates that this crisis will soon result in a deal between Europe and Russia. To understand how this situation was prophesied in your own Bible, please read “A New Strategic Partnership Emerges,” and request Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry’s new booklet The Prophesied ‘Prince of Russia.’

European Leaders Ready to Shrink the EU

European Leaders Ready to Shrink the EU

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The EU needs to unify quickly—and the easiest way forward is for a core group to leave the rest behind.

European leaders agreed last week that a core group of European nations must move rapidly toward unity, leaving the rest of the 28-member bloc behind. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said at an EU summit in Malta on February 3, “The history of recent years has shown that there will be a multi-speed EU, and not all members will participate in the same steps of integration.”

The Times of London reported, “European states have taken the first step towards a looser ‘multi-speed’ alliance at an EU summit in Malta.”

The summit comes as EU leaders grapple with multiple massive issues, including the Trump presidency, the departure of Britain from the EU, massive migrant inflows and ongoing financial crises. EU leaders agreed that they will meet again on March 25 in Rome to map out the future of the EU. The Rome meeting will occur on the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome. British Prime Minister Theresa May has not been invited. French President François Hollande said that the statement produced by EU leaders at Rome could promote a Europe traveling at “several speeds.” The leaders of Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg concurred, stating that “different paths of integration and enhanced cooperation could provide for effective responses to challenges that affect member states in different ways.”

United States President Donald Trump’s foreign policy has added new fuel to this latest push for European unity. “Political and economic integration must be now pursued and quickly,” wrote Judy Dempsey, senior fellow at Carnegie Europe, . “Germany, France and the other eurozone countries have a responsibility to push ahead. Whether or not all EU members support more integration or a two-speed Europe, integration should be made a priority.”

The unification of a smaller group of core nations is exactly what the Trumpet has forecast for years. The Bible describes a European power that would exist in the modern era and would consist of “10 kings”—leaders of 10 nations or regions. There are currently 27 EU member states (not counting Britain). In its current form, the EU has proved to be a massive, unwieldy, bureaucratic organization that simply cannot move quickly, decisively or in unison.

”There’s going to be a core group of nations,” Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry said in a 2010 Key of David television program. “Europe is going to have more power and not less, only it’s going to be considerably smaller. You watch and see if that doesn’t happen, because your Bible says it has to! There’s going to be 10 kings there, not 27, as there are 27 nations today in that European Union.”

Now European leaders are talking seriously about stripping the union down to a smaller yet more solid core. Keep an eye open for what happens on March 25 in Rome. And to see how this “multi-speed” alliance will ultimately lead to a 10-nation European superpower, read “Europe’s Coming Big Ten.”

The Trump Crisis—an ‘Enormous Opportunity’ for Europe

The Trump Crisis—an ‘Enormous Opportunity’ for Europe

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Listen to the Trumpet Daily radio program that aired on Feb. 8, 2017.

United States President Donald Trump’s foreign policy represents a major crisis for Europe and for Germany. But at the same time, it is an “enormous opportunity,” as former Belgium Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt put it. Across the Continent, leaders and writers believe President Trump will force Europe to unite and is presenting the bloc with an opportunity to lead the world. Trumpet contributing editor Richard Palmer examines how the Trump presidency is already uniting Europe and causing Germany to step up.

Listen to or download Trumpet Daily Radio Show on:

http://app.stitcher.com/browse/feed/68064/details

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/trumpet-daily-radio-show/id1003885427

http://kpcg.fm/shows/trumpet-daily-radio-show

Defense Expert: It’s ‘Too Late’ to Stop China’s Military Dominance of South China Sea

Defense Expert: It’s ‘Too Late’ to Stop China’s Military Dominance of South China Sea

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The former head of the Australian Defense Force says China’s military rise in the strategic region is almost complete.

China’s illegal military build-up in the South China Sea is almost “fully developed,” and it is now “too late” to stop it. That is the assessment of Sir Angus Houston, the former head of the Australian Defense Force (adf) in a speech last week to the National Security College conference in Canberra, Australia.

After conducting a study of the latest satellite imagery of the contested region, including the islands that Beijing has built there, Houston concluded that China’s military foothold in the region is now essentially permanent. “I have seen the imagery [and] what you see is infrastructure going in, and it is not going to be too much longer before it is fully developed …” he said. “All of this development will enable China to dominate the South China Sea and extend its permanent military presence further south in proximity to Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.”

Dominance of the South China Sea is of global significance because some $5.3 trillion in commerce passes through it each year. That amounts to about one third of the world’s total trade.

Houston, who led the adf from 2005 to 2011, said he believes the window to halt China’s illegal militarization of this international territory has closed. “In my view, it is too late to stop the China program in the South China Sea,” he said. “What is important now is to ensure freedom of navigation and the right of innocent passage.”

“We also need,” he said, “to find ways to resolve territorial disputes in accordance with international law and discourage nations from acting unilaterally in a way that threatens the peace and stability in our region.”

Houston’s assessment comes amid a time of increasing uncertainty about China’s relationship with Western powers, especially as United States President Donald Trump has taken a tough stance toward Beijing that has infuriated the Chinese leadership.

Back in July 2016, even before the “Trump factor” had added more uncertainty to the China-West equation, Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry said China’s militarization of the South China Sea was “steering the world toward war,” writing:

Ever since Xi Jinping took over as general secretary of the Communist Party of China, his administration has been militarizing the South China Sea and working to push the United States out of East Asia. In two island chains, the Paracels and the Spratlys, China is building a series of man-made islands, 800 miles from China’s shore. These islands are being installed with anti-aircraft batteries and fighter jets are stationed on them. …These militarized islands now function as forward bases for Beijing to challenge seven decades of American naval dominance in the Pacific Rim. This should alarm the world! …China is intimidating the nations of Southeast Asia into submission to its will. It is forcing these countries to do what it wants.Everything is headed in the direction of war.

Around the time that was written, the Chinese leadership promised on numerous occasions that the artificial islands it was building were for civilian purposes, and that it would not militarize them. But in the months since, as is clear by the assessment of such experts as Sir Angus Houston, China’s military purpose has become undeniable. And its military footing in this vital region has become formidable.

To understand why these developments mean that “everything is headed in the direction of war,” read Mr. Flurry’s prescient article “China Is Steering the World Toward War.”

More Than Half of U.S. Navy Aircraft Grounded

More Than Half of U.S. Navy Aircraft Grounded

U.S. Navy/Wikimedia Commons

The front line of America’s defense is struggling to keep itself together.

More than half of United States Navy aircraft cannot fly, mostly “because there isn’t enough money to fix them,” Defense News reported on February 6. That means that 1,700 combat planes and support aircraft are grounded. For the F/A-18 Hornet and Super Hornet, the situation is worse—nearly two thirds are out of service. Defense News wrote that the F/A-18s “are the tip of the spear, embodying most of the fierce striking power of the aircraft carrier strike group.”

The blunting of this spear has major ramifications. America’s Navy is built around its air power. Since the Battle of Midway during World War ii, the U.S. Navy has relied on warplanes as the decisive element in naval engagements. The whole force is structured around carrier strike groups—made up of America’s colossal nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and their escorts.

But it’s not just the planes that are suffering. Defense News noted:

With training and flying hour funds cut, the Navy’s aircrews are struggling to maintain even minimum flying requirements, the senior Navy source said. Retention is becoming a problem, too. In 2013, 17 percent of flying officers declined department head tours after being selected. The percentage grew to 29 percent in 2016.Funding shortfalls mean many service members are unable to relocate to take on new assignments. So far in 2017, the Navy said, there have been 15,250 fewer moves compared with 2016.

The ships are suffering as well. Each year, the Navy has to postpone the overhauls that its aging fleet need in hope that additional funding will be available in the future. According to a senior Navy official, overhauls to another 14 ships will be deferred in 2018. Defense News also warned:

One submarine, the Boise, has lost its diving certification and can’t operate pending shipyard work.Leaders claim that if more money doesn’t become available, five more submarines will be in the same state by the end of this year.

Fifteen percent of the facilities onshore, which the Navy uses to repair and maintain its fleet, are themselves in need of repair, replacement or demolition, Defense News reported.

This indeed is a bleak picture for the U.S. Navy’s future. It would take billions of additional dollars just to solve the current issues facing the force. But the problems with the U.S. military go beyond money. The American defense budget is already the largest in the world, and yet the Navy—along with the other branches of the U.S. military—is still plagued with funding issues.

For more on these problems and the root causes behind them, read “Another Defeat for America’s Military.”

The Fragility of Goodness

The Fragility of Goodness

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The story of Hitler, Bulgaria’s Jews and a few (extra)ordinary citizens.

It ‘s March 1941. The German war machine has been unbeatable. Bulgaria has been neutral, hopeful that it can regain territory lost in World War i and the Balkan Wars—without joining the Axis or the Allies. But the constitutional monarchy led by King Boris iii is in a precarious position of weakness. Many believe the king is a timid puppet figure. Other political parties are gaining strength. And Bulgaria is about to face a test of character hazarding tens of thousands of lives—and the honor of the Bulgarian people.

The previous year, German Chancellor Adolf Hitler had demanded that Bulgaria make a choice: Ally with Germany, let Nazi forces transit through Bulgaria, and receive new territories—or face invasion.

Bulgaria capitulated, and Hitler persuaded the Romanians to give Bulgaria the Dobrudja, a piece of land Bulgaria had ceded after losing World War i. King Boris took the land back and signed an agreement with Germany.

A few days later, the German Army traveled through Bulgaria to attack Greece and Yugoslavia. It quickly overran the two countries, and Hitler rewarded Bulgaria with two new provinces: Macedonia and Thrace. With the gains of territory, a wave of enthusiasm and patriotism surged through parts of the population. But the excitement soon passed, as something troubling set in: part of the cost of allying with Germany.

‘Laws for the Protection of the Nation’

As German influence in Bulgaria flourished, pro-Fascist politicians began to have their way. King Boris and the Bulgarian Parliament enacted what was called the “Law for the Protection of the Nation.” This law had protected the nation from a German invasion, but it did not protect Bulgaria’s Jews—it targeted them.

Based on Germany’s Nuremberg Racial Laws, the “protection” law severely limited the freedoms of approximately 50,000 Jews living in Bulgaria: It barred Jews from owning stores and from public service, identified Jewish houses with signs, and subjected Jews to a curfew.

But much of the population regarded the laws as a stain on the Bulgarian reputation. When Bulgaria had enshrined its constitution in 1879, it made Bulgarians, Turks, Jews and all others equal citizens under the law in every respect. The Bulgarians wanted to uphold that history.

Writers, doctors, artists, priests, shoemakers, farmers and Communists lashed back against the new law in a tidal wave of outrage. Many disobeyed the laws and found ways to protect the Jews.

Former government ministers also banded together and wrote to the parliament:

Poor Bulgaria! We are 7 million people, yet we so fear the treachery of 45,000 Jews who hold no positions of responsibility at the national level that we need to pass exceptional laws to protect ourselves from them. And then what? … Gentlemen. Decide now! Will you stand behind the Constitution and the Bulgarian people in defense of freedom, or will you march in step with the political mercenaries and bring shame on yourselves as you undermine our country’s life and future along the way?

Schoolkids rallied around their Jewish classmates, and business owners conducted secretive deals to allow Jewish store owners to keep their incomes.

But the laws remained. Bulgaria had avoided a German occupation. But they could not stop the rise of pro-Nazi politicians into positions of great power.

The Nazi

The most important of these leaders was Alexander Belev. In 1935, Belev had traveled to Berlin to study the notorious Nuremberg Racial Laws, on which the Bulgarian “protection” law was based. In January 1942, he attended the Wannsee Conference in Germany, where Nazis discussed implementing the “Final Solution” for the “Jewish problem:” mass extermination.

A few months later, the Commissariat of Jewish Affairs was established as a department of the Bulgarian government. Belev was the first chairman. Because of the widespread outrage among Bulgarians over the anti-Jewish laws, Belev worked swiftly and quietly.

In October 1942, Nazi authorities sent a message to Belev’s office in the capital city, Sofia: “Please approach the Bulgarian government and discuss with them the question of the evacuation of Jews stipulated by the new Bulgarian regulations …. We are ready to receive these Jews.”

Germany and Bulgaria’s plan was to start the “evacuation” with 12,000 Jews who lived in Macedonia and Thrace, the two areas the Nazis had given to Bulgaria in return for their alliance. Belev’s plan was even more insidious: Round the number up to an even 20,000, adding 8,000 Jews from “Old Bulgaria” to the death trains.

The plans were finalized on Feb. 22, 1943. Jews would be rounded up into tobacco warehouses around the nation. Trains would then transport them to concentration camps. On February 23, Belev traveled to the new lands of Thrace and Macedonia to organize the deportation of the Jewish population there. The key, he believed, was secrecy. “The deportation of the Jews,” he told Interior Minister Petur Gabrovski, “should be kept in strict confidence.”

But Liliana Panitsa, Belev’s secretary, couldn’t bear the disturbing secret. She alerted a Jewish friend of the upcoming plans. About the same time, an optician in Sofia had a chance encounter with a Jewish acquaintance. The optician was the brother-in-law of Gabrovski, one of the few men in Bulgaria who knew the plans. The optician received a bribe and revealed the plans. Over the next several days, Jews across Bulgaria learned of the rumors.

The rumors soon spread to Kyustendil. This tranquil hill town, set amidst orchards and wheat fields, lay near the mountainous border with Macedonia and far from the halls of power in the capital. This town of street vendors and family cafés was gripped by fear. They had heard of the terrible fate of Jews in other European countries.

The first week of March, residents caught sight of trains coming from Thrace. Historian Sandy Tolan describes the scene:

They were packed with Jews, crying out and begging for food. Shocked local residents and Jews interned in nearby work camps raced alongside the tracks, throwing bread into the cars as the trains rolled by. [One bishop wrote,] “In the freight wagons, there were old and young, sick and well, mothers with their nursing babies, pregnant women, packed like sardines and weak from standing; they cried out desperately for help, for pity, for water, for air, for a scrap of humanity” (The Lemon Tree: An Arab, a Jew, and the Heart of the Middle East).

Those in Kyustendil and in the train cars did not know it at the time, but these trains were bound for two of the most infamous Nazi death camps: Treblinka and Auschwitz.

After hearing rumors, after seeing the trains, and after receiving orders to prepare supplies for deportation, the citizens of Kyustendil could have left it at that and awaited their fate. But they didn’t. They chose to send a group of men to Sofia to urge Parliament against the plans in person. The proposed group included a number of men, but several decided they did not want to take such drastic action. Only four decided to attempt it. The leader of this tiny group would be Asen Suichmezov, a storekeeper.

The Storekeeper

Suichmezov had traveled into Macedonia; he had seen Jews ripped from their property and deported to Poland. He had heard the rumors, and he was willing to take on the impossible mission.

Expectations of his success were not good, as Tolan describes in his book. Some Jewish friends passing his shop would say, “Goodbye Asen! We’re never going to see you again.” Others clung to hope and pressed him to meet with Parliament on their behalf. Not knowing if it were possible to save them, he agreed. “I had given my word to the Jews that I would defend them,” Suichmezov wrote years later. “And I would not back out.”

The group—Asen and three other informal delegates—set out. The plan was to go to the capital, Sofia, by rail, try to meet with Vice President of Parliament Dimitur Peshev and somehow convince him and the entire government to revoke an enormous plan that was already in motion.

They had less than 12 hours to make contact with the leaders of the nation, to convince them to immediately cancel the orders, to save the Jews, and to salvage their country’s honor.

Meanwhile, in other towns across Bulgaria, Jewish families were being rounded up into schoolyards, classrooms, tobacco warehouses, and other locations.

The Politician

In Sofia, Peshev was growing more and more disillusioned with the pro-Fascist politicians. He believed in democracy, in Bulgaria’s national ideas, in its constitution and in leaders who were more than just accomplices to the Nazis.

Along with the king, Peshev had believed that Bulgaria’s sovereignty depended on conceding to Germany and had voted for the Law for the Protection of the Nation. He had believed the law was temporary, would not be taken to extremes, and would not evacuate or destroy Jewish Bulgarians.

But too many rumors were stacking up. And now Asen Suichmezov was standing in his office. Dimitur Peshev could no longer deny the rumors. He was now faced with the biggest decision of his life: Preserve the alliance with the most powerful country in Europe, or rebel and risk invasion?

“I could not remain passive,” Peshev later wrote. “My conscience and understanding of the grave consequences both for the people involved and for my country did not allow it. It was then I made the decision to do everything in my power to prevent the execution of a plan that was going to compromise Bulgaria in the eyes of the world and brand it with a mark of shame that it did not deserve.”

But time was running out. At that point, late in the afternoon, some towns were already preparing to move the Jewish citizens of “Old Bulgaria” into the trains. Peshev thought their best chance was to go to the prime minster and challenge him to revoke the orders. He rushed to his office and requested entry. The prime minister refused. Peshev was fired from his post a couple weeks later.

Peshev returned quickly to the anxious group. Their next best—and possibly last—option was to storm the office of Interior Minister Petur Gabrovski.

The men strode into Gabrovski’s office and confronted him with the knowledge of the Jewish deportations. Gabrovski denied everything, but seemed nervous.

Peshev threatened to bring up the deportations and Belev’s agreement in Parliament, which would effectively mean announcing it to the Bulgarian population, who would be horrified at the stain on their country’s character. A national scandal would result, with Gabrovski’s name all over it. Gabrovski cracked but refused to rescind the order. He called for the decision to be made by the king.

The King

Prof. Michael Bar-Zohar, author of Beyond Hitler’s Grasp, a history of the Bulgarian Jews’ rescue, describes King Boris’s decision:

From the start, until that day, [King Boris] had been a very loyal and subdued vassal of the Germans. Up until that point, he had done everything the Germans could expect of him. He passed the Law for the Defense of the Nation, he created the Commissar for the “Jewish question,” he approved the head of the Commissar who was an ardent Nazi, he sent the Jews of Thrace and Macedonia to their deaths, and he actually approved the sending of 8,000 Bulgarian Jews as well. But on the 9th of March, 1943, when he had to make a decision, he changed his policy. And from this day, he realized that as King of the Bulgarians, he could not carry out such a policy.

The king blocked the deportation.

One Jewish man recalled walking to the train station with his baggage packed, passing sobbing neighbors on the way. Suddenly someone came running. “Turn back! There’s been a change.” The change? He no longer had to board a train headed to his death.

King Boris was later called directly into the office of the German chancellor. Hitler furiously demanded an explanation: Why were the Jews in Old Bulgaria still there and not in the Polish concentration camps? King Boris told the chancellor that Bulgaria’s Jews would instead be used to pave roads and work in labor camps.

King Boris sent the Jews to work in labor camps, using them as a front to keep them alive. Hitler grew suspicious enough of the king that he sent agents to secretly monitor the camps, one of whom wrote: “The efficiency of the Jewish work in construction of roads and railroads is minimal so far. In some of the camps, the Jews work for a few hours a day and can lead very pleasant lives. The Bulgarian government uses the inclusion of Jews in the work effort as the overall reason against the demand for the deportation to the east.”

Do Not Follow a Multitude to Do Evil

What happened in Bulgaria—one of the only countries in Europe to save nearly all its Jewish population—could not have occurred without what one Bulgarian-French intellectual called the “fragility of goodness.” If Belev’s secretary had not committed the good act of reporting the plans to her Jewish friends; if Asen Suichmezov had not boarded a train on the night of March 8 to attempt an almost impossible task; if Dimitur Peshev had waited until the next day to be convicted by his conscience; if King Boris had deliberated for a few hours before revolting against Nazi policy, nearly 50,000 Bulgarian Jews would have perished. And their blood would have stained Bulgaria. Instead, a few of the most ordinary of ordinary citizens and a handful of politicians changed history.

In doing so, they provided a vivid demonstration of the command in Exodus 23:2: “Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil.” While many thousands of Bulgarians were outraged by the anti-Jewish laws, in the end, it was four—four ordinary citizens who boarded the train to Sofia to do something, even if that something was impossible. In Macedonia and Thrace, the Bulgarians were so compliant that 11,000 to 12,000 Jews were in fact sent to their deaths at Treblinka.

Implicit in Moses’s command was not only that we don’t “follow a multitude to do evil,” but that we actively work against it. In an age where truth is likewise “cast to the ground,” those who bear the name of Christian cannot merely disagree, but must openly strive against lies and evil. If Asen Suichmezov had simply consoled his Jewish friends, if Dimitur Peshev had merely hated the idea of the Jewish deportation, or if King Boris merely disagreed with Hitler in his diary, thousands more Jews would have gone to their deaths—and tens of thousands of their descendants would not be alive today. It took not just thought but action to save them.

When your individual time comes, ask yourself: Will you be the ordinary citizen who disagrees inwardly, or will you be the extraordinary citizen who stands up and takes action?