Henk Zanoli was honoured by the Israeli authorities due to his family’s efforts to save a Jewish child during the Nazi genocide
by Inna Lazareva (Telegraph)
A 91-year-old Dutch man who was awarded a prestigious honour by the State of Israel for his family’s role in saving a Jewish child from the Holocaust has returned his prize after six of his relatives were killed in Gaza.
In 2011 the Israeli authorities declared Henk Zanoli ‘Righteous Among the Nations’ – a title bestowed upon non-Jews who helped save Jews from the Holocaust. During the Nazi occupation of Holland Mr Zanoli’s family had helped shelter a young boy until the Allied liberation in 1945.
But Mr Zanoli returned his prize to the Israeli embassy in the Netherlands after hearing that six of his relatives had been killed during an attack on their home in Gaza.
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In a moving letter addressed to the Israeli ambassador and published in Haaretz, an Israeli newspaper, he said: “For me to hold on to the honour granted by the State of Israel, under these circumstances, will be both an insult to the memory of my courageous mother who risked her life and that of her children fighting against suppression and for the preservation of human life as well as an insult to those in my family, four generations on.”
Mr Zanoli’s father was deported from Holland and subsequently died in the Dachau concentration camp due to his outspoken opposition to the German occupation.
“After the horror of the Holocaust my family strongly supported the Jewish people also with regard to their aspirations to build a national home”, wrote Mr Zanoli.
“Over more than six decades I have however slowly come to realize that the Zionist project had from its beginning a racist element in it in aspiring to build a state exclusively for Jews.
On Sunday July 20 an Israeli fighter jet dropped a bomb on the family home of Ismail Ziadah, the husband of Mr Zanoli’s great-neice. According to Haaretz the strike killed the family matriarch, Muftiyah, 70, three of her sons, Jamil, Omar and Youssef, Jamil’s wife, Bayan and their 12-year-old son, Shaaban.
“The great- great grandchildren of my mother have lost their grandmother, three uncles, an aunt and a cousin at the hands of the Israeli army”, added Mr Zanoli.