Nazi Resister Returns Medal to Israel Over Gaza Bombs

Dutch resident saved Jewish boy from Nazis, but lost kin in Gaza airstrikes
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 16, 2014 12:20 PM CDT
Nazi Resister Returns Medal to Israel Over Gaza Bombs
File photo of a certificate that accompanies the Righteous Among the Nations medal.   (AP Photo/Alik Keplicz)

In World War II, a Dutch man risked his life and saved a Jewish boy from the Nazis—a feat that earned Henk Zanoli Israel's prestigious Righteous Among the Nations medal after the war. This week, the 91-year-old gave it back, reports Haaretz. The reason? An Israeli airstrike killed relatives of his in the Gaza Strip last month. After learning the news, Zanoli went to the Israeli embassy in The Hague and returned the medal, issuing a statement detailing the sacrifices his family made resisting the Nazis during the occupation of Holland. “Against this background, it is particularly shocking and tragic that today, four generations on, our family is faced with the murder of our kin in Gaza," he wrote. "Murder carried out by the State of Israel.”

In an interview with the New York Times, Zanoli made clear that his problem is with the government of Israel, not the Israeli people. “I gave back my medal because I didn’t agree with what the state of Israel is doing to my family and to the Palestinians on the whole,” he said. Zanoli's grand-niece is a Dutch diplomat who is married to a Palestinian economist, and an Israeli bomb killed three of the economist's brothers, along with other relatives. Zanoli said he felt that keeping the medal would be an "insult" to his family. (More Israel stories.)

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