Brightness in the heart of darkness
A senior Muslim delegation visits Auschwitz-Birkenau
International Holocaust Day
The international Holocaust day was marked throughout the world last week. On January 27th, 1945 the Red Army liberated the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp. In 2005 the United Nations general assembly declared January the 27th as the International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
On this day ceremonies take place throughout the world, many of them on the soil of Poland in which most of the European Jewry were exterminated in death camps during 1939 – 1945.
Senior Muslims in Auschwitz
An important event took place on Tuesday. 150 senior Muslim figures arrived in Auschwitz-Birkenau in order to commemorate with the six million Jewish victims.
Among the members of the Muslim delegation were Abdoulaye Wade, the President of Senegal from West-Africa, former states' leaders, diplomats, and academics from Iraq, Turkey and other parts of the Muslim world.
The Muslim delegation was escorted by Jews and Christians, among them Rabbis and Priests. The senior Jewish figure was Israel's former chief Rabbi Yisrael-Meir Lau, who is a Holocaust survivor. The German senior representative was the former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder.
Another important figure in the Muslim delegation was Karim Lahiji, President of the Iranian League for the defense of human rights.
The organizers considered the visit extremely important as most participants come from countries that are systematically denying the Holocaust and encouraging hatred and Anti-Semitism.
The world's No. 1 leader of the Holocaust denial today is the Islamic Republic of Iran. The Iranians claim that the Holocaust is a myth that was invented by the Jews and the western world in order to create legitimacy for the existence of the State of Israel and the continuous suppression of the Palestinians.
According to the Iranian philosophy, If Israel will lose legitimacy in the world it will be easier to strike it with no significant reaction from the world, especially the west.
Hamas’ official line is also denying the Holocaust. All Hamas leaders say that it's nothing but a myth and a lie against the Palestinians. Haj Amin Al-Husseini was the senior spiritual leader of the Arab population during the British Mandate in Eretz-Israel. During world war II he met Adolph Hitler in Berlin on November 28th 1941. Hitler promised to Husseini that he plans to exterminate all the Jews in the Arab territories that are ruled by the British Empire.
The current Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), who negotiates for peace with Israel, was also accused of Holocaust denial. In his 1982 PhD work from a Russian university, Abbas questioned and doubted the number of Jews that were murdered in the Holocaust.
Some of us tend to see the Muslims as enemies of Israel and the Judaism. This is understandable when hearing the voices from Iran, Hezbollah, Al-Qaeda and some of the Palestinian extremist organizations. The continuous Israeli-Palestinian conflict does not help calm those feeling from both sides.
As Jews, we should also remember and cherish the periods when Muslims and Jews lived in harmony or even when Muslims protected the Jews in some historical occasions.
During World War II, many Muslim families from the Balkan hid Jews in their houses and exposed themselves to the rage of the Nazi army. Some families paid with their lives for that protection. After the war ended, the State of Israel recognized the benevolence of those families and they were honored as "Righteous among the Nations".
During World War II, Muhammad the fifth King of Morocco defended the Jews in his country and saved them from the Nazis and the fascist regime in Southern France. King Muhammad the fifth saw the Jews as a part of his nation and thought that they should have the same rights that Muslims do.
The most famous Jewish-Muslim cooperation was in Muslim Spain between 711-1492 CE. The Jewish culture, literature and spiritual life flourished under the Muslim rule and it is known as the "Golden Era". Many of today's scripts, literature and philosophy were written during those days.
Jewish-Muslim relationship knew good times and hard times during history. The visit of 150 Muslims in Auschwitz-Birkenau is a symbol of respect, tolerance and understanding of others. There is no other way or attitude towards peace.