Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Yad Vashem delays naming Arab 'Righteous Gentile'

The former director of Yad Vashem's Department of the Righteous has expressed his dissatisfaction with Israel's Holocaust Memorial for an "unreasonable" delay in bestowing the august title of Righteous Among the Nations on the first Arab nominated for the award, the Jerusalem Post reports. (With thanks: Lily)

Tunisian aristocrat Khaled...

Tunisian aristocrat Khaled Abdelwahhab, who was nominated for Yad Vashem's highest honor.
Photo: AP

The unusual criticism of Israel's Holocaust Authority comes 18 months after a Tunisian aristocrat, Khaled Abdelwahhab, was nominated for Yad Vashem's highest honor.

"I am amazed what is causing such a delay which is way beyond a reasonable amount of time," said Dr. Mordechai Paldiel, the former director of the Department of the Righteous at Yad Vashem, a position he held for 24 years.

Paldiel, who prepared the Tunisian diplomat's file for the Yad Vashem committee studying the case, said that Abdelwahhab met Yad Vashem's strict criteria for recognizing a non-Jew as a Righteous Among the Nations, and that he was surprised to see that the case had not been approved by the committee to date.

"I do not understand what is causing this delay," he said.

Paldiel, who is currently working with the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation, said he felt that if he were still in his previous position, the file would already have been approved.

A Yad Vashem spokeswoman said this week that the case was still under discussion. She declined further comment on the issue, in keeping with Yad Vashem's policy of not commenting on such cases while they were under deliberation.

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