Monday, October 23, 2017

At first this looks like a heartwarming story from Haaretz:

In First, Yad Vashem to Bestow 'Righteous Gentile' Honor to an Arab
Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial center will for the first time recognize as “Righteous Among the Nations” an Arab who saved the lives of Jews during the Holocaust. The family of Dr. Mohamed Helmy will accept the award from Israel’s Holocaust memorial and museum in a ceremony in Berlin on Thursday.
Helmy, an Egyptian-born doctor living in Berlin, risked his life when he sheltered four Jews throughout the period of World War II.
But then we read this:

Yad Vashem recognized Helmy, who died in 1982, as Righteous Among the Nations in 2013, but his family initially refused the honor because the institution is Israeli.

“If any other country offered to honor Helmy, we would have been happy with it,” said Mervat Hassan, the wife of Helmy’s grandnephew, told The Associated Press during an interview at her home in Cairo in October 2013. Now, after a four-year search, a relative was found who agreed to accept the award.

Nasser Kutbi, an 81-year-old professor of medicine from Cairo whose father was Helmy’s nephew and who knew him personally, will travel to Berlin to accept the award.
In 2013, when Yad Vashem recognized Helmy and Szturmann as Righteous Among the Nations they tried to locate Helmy’s relatives, and even turned to the Egyptian Embassy in Israel and the press.

The Associated Press located a relative in Egypt who refused to accept the award. Other relatives explained to German historian and journalist Ronen Steinke why they refused: Yad Vashem is political institution representing Israel and has no right to represent Jews everywhere, they said. In addition, Israel was not founded until 1948 and did not exist at the time Helmy carried out his actions, so today Israel has no right to represent the Jewish victims of that period, they added. They also criticized Israeli policy toward Palestinians, saying one of their relatives had died in one of the wars between Israel and Egypt.

Helmy’s relatives feel he saved Anna not because she was Jewish but because she was a human being and the attempt to recognize him for saving Jews is inappropriate, Steinke told Haaretz.

Yad Vashem has recognized some 26,000 Righteous Among the Nations from 44 countries and nationalities so far. A few dozen are Muslims, including from Albania, the Caucasus and the Balkans. But Helmy was the first Arab so recognized.
Ordinary Egyptians refused to accept a huge honor on behalf of their relatives - because, you know, Israel, hand waving, Israel, mumble, Palestinians, 1948, Nakba, Israel.

In other words, by traveling to Israel to accept the award, the relatives would be guilty of the crime of "normalization with the Zionist enemy"  that has been at formal peace with Egypt for 40 years, longer than the two countries were at war. (Arab media accurately noted the reason was "normalization," not the four absurd reasons listed in the article.

This is how relatives of a hero behave today in a country with a peace treaty with Israel, today's Egypt that has no interest in real peace but only in the benefits it receives from the peace agreement.

This is yet another reason that true peace is impossible.

(h/t JW)




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