Forgotten history: Muslims who save Jews

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Forgotten history: Muslims who save Jews

Post  Hëna on Wed Feb 25, 2009 7:40 pm

By Aaron Klein
© 2009 WorldNetDaily




A largely Muslim nation this month is hosting an exhibition highlighting a chapter of world history that has received little public exposure until now: how some Muslims risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust.

It is well known that Islamic leaders, including the grand mufti of Jerusalem, collaborated with the Nazis in divining anti-Semitic propaganda and recruiting Arab officials to support Adolph Hitler's war against Jews. Many of today's Mideast leaders, such as Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, are notorious for their outspoken denial of the Holocaust.

Often overlooked, however, are scores of Albanian Muslims who risked their lives to protect the country's Jewish citizens and provided refuge for Jews escaping from neighboring countries.

Albania is one of the only European countries occupied by the Nazis to come out of World War II with more Jews than before the conflict. Two hundred Jews lived in Albania before the war, but hundreds more crossed the border fleeing Hitler's rise to power. Only one Jewish family was reportedly deported and killed during the Nazi occupation of Albania, whose population refused to comply with Hitler's demand to provide lists of Jews residing in the country.
In 2007, Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum featured an exhibit from renowned photographer Norman Gershman, whose work profiled scores of Albanian Muslims and their families previously recognized by the museum as "Righteous among the Nations" – the Holocaust center's highest honor – for their efforts in saving European Jews.

The exhibition has moved on to Albania, where the government and the U.S. embassy are sponsoring a tour.

"I met Muslims who saved Jews. Who ever heard of that?" exclaimed Gershman, speaking to WND. "I want to do my part to honor these people on behalf of the Jewish nation."

Gershman's showcase, also made into a book of the same namesake, is titled "Besa: Muslims Who Saved Jews in World War II." Besa is a code of honor deeply rooted in Albanian tradition demanding one take responsibility for the lives of others in their time of need.

"I am not sure what motivated Albania's Muslims to save Jews," explained Gerhsom. "Some told me they just wanted to save God's children; others said it was the Quran or it was Besa, or that there is no Besa without the Quran or vice versa. There are all sorts of reasons and explanations, but at the heart of it all is the goodness of humanity."

Gershman said he spent five years collecting material for "Besa," journeying often to Albania and visiting with families and Holocaust survivors.

In his book's introduction, Akbar Ahmed, Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies at American University, wrote, "I hope that the example of the Albanian rescuers will serve as a role model inspiring others – Muslims and followers of other faiths – to walk in their footsteps and be truly human beings when faced with similar moral challenges."

Although this is a good recognition, the Jews in Albania, were saved in every region they were living by muslims and christians alike, so I think the title should've just said Albanians rather than pointing out just the faith.

Hëna
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