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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Muslims Honored For Saving Jews During the Holocaust

Let's get past the hate and misunderstanding...............

From Muslim Discussion Forum: (be sure to link for the conversation)

New York, NY, January 18, 2007… A Muslim family who saved 26 Jews from the Nazis and led them to safety in the mountains of Central Albania was honored by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) with its Courage to Care Award.

The award was presented posthumously to Mefail and Njazi Biçaku on International Rescuer's Day, January 17, in New York City. Accepting the award on their behalf were family members Muhamet Biçaku, Elida Hazbiu and Qemal Biçaku, two of whom came from Albania.

Michael Salberg, ADL Director of International Affairs, who presented the award said; "Mefail, his son Njazi and their entire family had the courage to care. Through their compassion and valor without regard for religious or ethnic differences they upheld the honor of the human race and the conscience of the world. In the moral void that engulfed the world in those nightmare days when the cruelty of the Nazis ran rampant, the Biçaku family was among those few shining stars."

On September 1943, as the Nazis began searching for Jews in the region, word reached Mefail Biçaku that a number of people were in great need. Mefail, a man well-known for his bravery and honesty, gave his "besa"- his word of honor- that he would protect, feed and shelter them. Njazi, his son, guarded their charges constantly, and when bandits in the area suggested Mefail turn the Jews in and claim their wealth, he refused.

In February 1944, when the Nazis descended upon the mountain hiding place, not a single Jew fell into their hands. During the Holocaust, Albania was the only country in Europe that protected and sheltered its entire Jewish population, both native and foreign. Through the valiant efforts of Muslims and Christians, all of Albania's Jews survived the Holocaust.

Muslim Voices Against Extremism and Terrorism - Part V The Muslim Majority - article collection

In addition:

Khaled Abdelwahhab (died 1997) became the first Arab nominated for the Israeli Righteous Among the Nations, when he was nominated in January, 2007, by Robert Satloff, director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Abdelwahhab, the son of an aristocratic family, was 32 when German troops occupied Tunisia in November, 1942. Tunisia was then home to approximately 100,000 Jews. Under the Nazis' anti-Semitic policies, they were forced to wear Star of David badges and were subject to fines and having their property confiscated. More than 5,000 Jews were sent to forced labor camps, where 46 are known to have died; another 160 Tunisian Jews in France were sent to European death camps.

Abdelwahhab, an interlocutor between the Nazis and the population of the coastal town of Mahdia, heard that German officers were planning to rape a local Jewish woman, Odette Boukris; instead, he hid her, her family, and several other Jewish families, about two dozen in all, at his farm outside town for four months, until the occupation ended.

Satloff, who had been searching for records of Arabs who had saved Jews from the Holocaust, was first informed of Abdelwahhab by Odette Boukris' daughter, Anny Boukris, who had also been hidden by Abdelwahhab at the age of 11; shortly after recording her testimony, she died at age 71. Satloff then went to Mahdia and confirmed the story.

Although nominated, Abdelwahhab still has to be approved by the Yad Vashem commission that grants the honor. Yad Vashem has conferred the honor on approximately 60 Muslims, but thus far no Arab had ever been nominated. (source)


List of People Who Assisted Jews During the Holocaust

"Muslim Family Who Hid Jews During the Holocaust"

"Albanian Muslims Rescue Jews in WWII" (part 1)

"Albanian Muslims Rescue Jews in WWII"(part 2)

Part 3

After WWII the hate and tragedy continued. In fatal linear fashion, in a misunderstood quest to find a homeland which was "safe for the Jews" the state of Israel was established on the broken backs of another people, the Palestinians. 750,000 fled their homes in Palestine in terror in the Nakba. (Not to seem simplistice-but for sake of space) Hatred bred hatred, and the cry "Never again" went unheeded. This led to terror against Jews in neighboring Arab countries as the Zionist call for Jews from all over went out to come to Israel.

This is what I can offer as a personal story of that time: My ex-husband's grandfather was a businessman for many years in Bahrain (both prior to and following WWII) where Muslims and Jews had lived peacefully together up til this time. His business partner and closest friend was Jewish. As terror was unleashed against the Palestinians fleeing their homeland, terror was unleashed against Jews in Arab lands. But there were Muslims then TOO who stepped in to protect the Jews. My ex's grandfather took his business partner and family and several others in to his home for protection. These people had NO desire to immigrate to Israel, wanting nothing to do with the Zionist endeavor. My ex's grandfather arranged for safe passage for them to Paris where they lived until he died. The tragedy that split them physically did NOT break their friendship. They corresponded by letter until the business partner died and their families visited when ever possible in Europe. Two great men who REFUSED to get caught up in the tide of hate.

History as presented to us, is NEVER quite as it seems on the surface. In the midst of tragedy and hate, there are ALWAYS those who do not give in and participate, but sadly, their stories are often hidden. The above information about Albanian Muslims and others helping Jews during the Holocaust is surely but the tip of the iceberg which has been hidden to us.

Is it possible for us to come together NOW as these many people have in the past? I for one truly believe it is. The greatest lesson my mother ever taught me is that the only person you can control fully is yourself. Is it possible for us to emulate these actions ourselves? I believe it is, and I believe it is IMPERATIVE that all then AND NOW who are seeking peace be given the chance and support to achieve it.

For this I pray, and this I believe, peace IS possible, if we each choose to live peacefully ourselves.

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