Under Which Circumstances?

When Henk Zanoli yesterday returned to the Israeli Ambassador in The Hague, Haim Davon, his 2011 medal which asserts that he is one of the Righteous Among the Nations, conferred by holocaust museum Yad Vashem, I wondered under which circumstances the then 88 years old long retired Dutch attorney had actually been awarded, 68 years after he and his late mother, Johana Zanoli-Smit, had sheltered and thus saved the life of Elchanan Pinto whose parents Had vanished in German concentration camps. Why he has now returned the medal has been widely reported. His greater family consisted of in-laws in Gaza, six of whom had been killed in the relentless shelling including deliberate careless targeting hundred of civilians during IDF Operation Protective Edge last month.

What is even more intriguing is, why did he accept it then, two years after Israel had been accused of war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity in a similarly brutal assault called Operation Cast Lead, in the end of 2008 and beginning of 2009, see [pdf]? Was it because Richard Goldstone had lopsidedly modified the previous conclusions of the UN Fact Finding Mission just a few months before Zanoli has received his award in 2011?

In the meantime, another assault on Gaza had been launched by IDF, in November 2012; the so-called Operation Pillar of Defense, with about 100 Palestinian civilial casualties. In his letter to the Israeli Ambassador Mr. Zanoli writes,

“After the horror of the holocaust my family strongly supported the Jewish people also with regard to their aspirations to build a national home. 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. As a consequence, ethnic cleansing took place at the time of the establishment of your state and your state continues to suppress the Palestinian people on the West Bank and in Gaza who live under Israeli occupation since 1967. The actions of your state in Gaza these days have already resulted in serious accusations of war crimes and crimes against humanity…The only way out of the quagmire the Jewish people of Israel have gotten themselves into is by granting all living under the control of the State of Israel the same political rights and social and economic rights and opportunities.” (Emphasis added.)

Amazing that Mr. Zanoli seems to support a one-state solution. As Juan Cole notes today,

“[His] endorsement of a one-state solution betrays his legal training. He is objecting to the Palestinians being stateless, and therefore lacking political, social and economic rights and opportunities. Populations that do not enjoy citizenship in a state lack, […] ‘the right to have rights.’ It was the Nazi stripping of citizenship from German Jews that laid the groundwork for the Holocaust.”

A fair one-state solution may nor longer be possible after the numerous wars since 1948 and, in particular, 2002. It would rather be the apartheid state which, according to not just few, Israel is already.

The main questions remain, Why had Henk Zanoli been awarded 68 years after his admirable humanitarian act by the Yad Vashem museum and why had he accepted the medal in the first place? Amazing that Henk Zanoli had already been removed from Yad Vashem’s list of Righteous, see here.

16 August 2014 @ 12:30 pm.

Last modified August 19, 2014.

This entry was posted in Israel, Palestine and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Under Which Circumstances?

  1. Harry Davids says:

    Some questions:
    1. Did anyone interview Elchanan Pinto to hear his reaction to the return of the medal by his rescuer?
    2. Yad Vashem does not initiate the process for honoring people who rescued Jews during the Holocaust. An individual person (or group of people, like a rescued family), initiates the request. Given that fact, who initiated the process of granting the honor to Mr Zanoli?
    3. When did Mr Pinto first become fully aware of his rescue by Mr Zanoli and of the fact that he had survived the Holocaust?
    4. Did Mr Zanoli inform Mr Pinto of his intention to return the medal before writing that letter to the Israeli Embassy?
    5. Did Mr Zanoli (age 91) personally write that letter, or did he dictate it to someone else? If the latter, who was that someone else?
    6. Was Mr Pinto lucid enough at the time to write or dictate the letter and to understand not only its contents but also all the ramifications of returning the medal?
    7. Did Mr Zanoli believe that whatever reaction Mr Pinto might have to his returning the medal should be subordinated to the broader agenda of sending a message to Israel?

  2. Muller says:

    Thanks for interesting information. Maybe Elchanan Pinto has long passed. http://www.yadvashem.org/yv/en/righteous/stories/related/elchanan_pinto_testimony.asp

    “The story as it was remembered by Elchanan Pinto

    When Elchanan Pinto told his family how he survived the Holocaust in the Netherlands, he also mentioned what he knew about the fate of his relatives, Icek, his wife Rozalia and their little daughter, all of whom perished.

    As the deportations of the Jews to the east began, the Pintos became most concerned, especially with the safety of their little child. One day, while she was shopping, Rozalia accidentally met a non-Jewish childhood friend. This friend was alarmed by Rozalia’s worried expression. When asked, Rozalia poured out her heart to her friend and shared her concerns with her. What she didn’t know was that her friend’s husband was active in the underground, and that following their meeting, her friend had asked her husband to arrange for the hiding of the little child. A few days after the accidental meeting, this friend found Rozalia in the same shop and passed a note to her with instructions where she should bring her daughter. For several days the Pinto’s agonized over the decision to part from their child, and finally decided to put her in the hands of the resistance.

    Elchanan Pinto never learned the identity of the family that hid Loesje. After the war the family found out that Icek, Rozalia and Loesje perished. He told the story, as he knew it, and after his death his niece decided to write a book about his life. One small chapter was dedicated to the story of Loesje and her parents.”

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