Tunisian who saved Jews in line for award

23rd January 2007, Comments 0 comments

23 January 2007, Jerusalem (dpa) - A former Tunisian farmer is in line to become the first Arab to be named among the Righteous Among the Nations, a title given to non-Jews who saved Jews from the Nazi's during World War II. Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Centre confirmed Tuesday that Khaled Abd al-Wahab had been nominated for the award, but said testimony of his deeds is still being collected and his candidacy still has to be presented to a committee which approves the award. According to the test

23 January 2007

Jerusalem (dpa) - A former Tunisian farmer is in line to become the first Arab to be named among the Righteous Among the Nations, a title given to non-Jews who saved Jews from the Nazi's during World War II.

Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Centre confirmed Tuesday that Khaled Abd al-Wahab had been nominated for the award, but said testimony of his deeds is still being collected and his candidacy still has to be presented to a committee which approves the award.

According to the testimony of Anny Boukris, who settled in Los Angeles after the war, al-Wahab, a well-to-do farmer at the time, rescued her and 24 of her relatives from their hiding place and hid them on his farm until the German occupation of Tunisia ended in 1943.

At one point, he risked his life to prevent a German officer from raping her mother, she said.

Al-Wahab died in 1997.

Robert Satloff, an American expert on Arab and Islamic politics who has published a book on the Holocaust in Arab Lands, and who submitted the request to award al-Wahab the "Righteous" title, travelled to al-Wahab's farm and interviewed witnesses who verified Boukris' testimony.

Some 85,000 Jews lived in Tunisia on the eve of World War II. While the sympathetic Vichy French governor implemented only some of the so-called Statut des Juifs (Jewish law), the Germans, when they took over the country in November 1942, were much harsher.

Jews were rounded up for forced labour, Jewish property was seized, they were fined and made to wear special badges, and 20 Jewish political activists were sent to Germany, where they were killed.

Satloff told the Israel Ha'aretz daily that in total, "more than half a million Jews lived in North Africa under Nazi occupation or that of their allies."

"It is not logical," he said, "that throughout this process not a single case has been uncovered to date of an Arab who saved a Jew."

One reason is that historians did not look for Arab rescuers, he said. "Only a year ago Yad Vashem issued a study book on the Holocaust in Arab countries."

The other reason, said Satloff, is that the Arab rescuers themselves did not want to be found.

"I had the impression that at some point it became unacceptable to be a rescuer of Jews. Too many people reacted negatively to the fact that their parents rescued Jews," he told the Israeli daily.

Over 21,000 people have been awarded the Righteous Among the Nations title by Yad Vashem. In some cases the award is given personally, in other cases it is given to the rescuer's descendents.

The Muslim recipients of the title - around 50 in all - have to date all come from countries such as Bosnia, Albania and Turkey.

DPA

Subject: German news

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