You have probably heard of Raoul Wallenburg (a Swedish diplomat). You have probably heard of Irene Sandler (a Polish social worker). You may or may not have heard of Mary Elmes (an Irish Quaker who lived in France). And you may only know Guido Bartali as an Italian racing cyclist, who won the Tour de France in both 1938 and 1948.
If you do not see an immediate connexion, they are just four people, among thousands who are recognised as “Righteous Among The Nations” by the State of Israel. For the four above, thousands of documented others and even more thousands of undocumented others are recognised as “Righteous Gentiles”….people who acted directly to save Jewish lives before and during World War Two.
When the Nazi SS were committing genocide in Eastern Europe and filling concentration camps with deported Jews from all over Europe, there were thousands of non-Jews, who saved lives…often paying with their own lives.
It is a courage beyond any that I possess.
But I wonder what is the “righteous” response of non-Muslims, non-Gazans to what is happe ning on the Gaza Strip this month.
How is a “righteous humanist” to feel? A “righteous Baptist”? A “righteous Catholic”? A “righteous Presbyterian”? “A righteous athiest”? “A righteous Buddhist” ? And dare I say it….how is a “righteous Jew” supposed to feel?
I hold no brief for anti-Semitism. But it appears to me that some of the statements coming out of Israel have been the vilest form of Racism.
As I have said before…nobody in Israel-Palestine …welcomes any kind of Nuance. And the degree of Vitriol that Israelis reserve for those “righteous” people, who have the deepest concerns about how Israel is behaving in relation to the Gaza Strip seems to undermine their own concept of “Righteous Among the Nations”.
Israel cannot honour people from Sweden, Poland, Ireland, Italy….and a lot of other nations for responding to humanitarian instincts and then revile the 2014 generation who do the same thing.
Each 27th January ….we commemorate Holocaust Day.
Israel invites…indeed demands….that the World doesnt forget the Holocaust and its lessons.
Yet …the evidence of Gaza is that the World remembers and that Israel has forgotten.