By Ben Ganzfried
Arab-Jewish relations during the Holocaust are too often viewed as typified by the actions of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, who actively worked with Hitler to murder as many Jews as possible. Challenging this historical outlook, “Among the Righteous” offers a few examples of Arabs who saved Jews during the Holocaust. Robert Satloff provides powerful individual stories of bravery, courage, and sadness. Told from the perspective of family stories and first-time interviews, “Among the Righteous” shows how otherwise ordinary Arab men became heroes and saved defenseless Jewish men and women. What distinguishes the movie is the focus on people who acted out of a sense of humanity rather than adhering to the dictums of the Nazis and their allies in power. People like Khaled Abdul-Wahab who risked his life to save a handful of Jewish women hiding in the animal shed of his farm.
Satloff offers many details that I came across for the first time. From his investigative research of ordinary neighbors who became heroes in the lives of those they saved– to his initial discovery that there were over a hundred concentration camps in North Africa during WWII from comments made in the movie Casablanca. “Rick: Now, you’ve got to listen to me! You have any idea what you’d have to have to look forward to if you stayed here? Nine times out of ten, we’d both wind up in a concentration camp. Isn’t that true, Louie?”
Satloff also addresses some of the important implications that his findings bring for today. (What might the future look like if the past focuses on the positive experiences instead of the negative? If these individuals could say ‘no’ to hatred, will the same happen today?) It is a compelling story, and it is the conversations with participants and access to their recollections that only a few possess, that make the movie unique. This movie, in addition to being powerfully poignant, is a persuasive reminder that by honoring individual Arabs, as the movie concludes, we “have honored all the unnamed Arabs who aided Jews in their time of need.” This movie is not indispensable to an understanding of Arab-Jewish relations during WWII, but it is certainly unforgettable.
Arab liberated Jews in Jerusalem in 638 CE. Arabs also saved Jews in Spain in 711 CE. In fact when Jews were expelled from 108 European countries – many of them took refuge in Arab lands. As Jewish anti-Muslim Orientalist Dr. Bernard Lewish admitted that Muslim Spain was the “Golden Age” of Jews.
No Arab country expelled its Jewish communities. It were the Jewish terrorist groups which created panic among the Jewish communities in Morocco, Iraq, Egypt, etc. by bombing Synagogues and shops – in order to populate Palestine with Jewish settlers. The actions of these Jewish terrorist made the great majority of Moroccan Jews (500,000) and Iraqi Jews (137,000) to flee their ancestral lands and settle on Arab lands in Israel.
Even to this day, Jewish communities are living in peace with their fellow Muslim countrymen in Tunisia, Iran, Lebanon, Azerbaijan, Morocco, Oman, Albania, and many other places.