France,  History,  Israel/Palestine

The courage to commemorate

I want to pay tribute to two men for whom commemorating the Holocaust took no little courage.

The Washington Post reported:

Professor Mohammed S. Dajani took 27 Palestinian college students to visit the former Auschwitz Nazi concentration camp in Poland a few weeks ago as part of a project designed to teach empathy and tolerance. Upon his return, his university [al-Quds University in Jerusalem] disowned the trip, his fellow Palestinians branded him a traitor and friends advised a quick vacation abroad.
A firebrand in the Fatah political movement when he was young, Dajani said he is now a proponent of moderate Islam and moderate politics. He founded a group dedicated to both, called Wasatia, in 2007. His writing and conversation are filled with references to tolerance, reconciliation and dialogue. He supports two states for two peoples and thinks Jerusalem should be shared by Israelis and Palestinians.

Dajani issued the following statement:

“I will go to Ramallah, I will go to the university, I will put my photos of the visit on Facebook, and I do not regret for one second what I did. As a matter of fact, I will do it again if given the opportunity. I will not hide, I will not deny, I will not be silent. I will not remain a bystander even if the victims of suffering I show empathy for are my occupiers…”

In France, despite the well-publicized tensions between Muslims and Jews, Imam Hassen Chalghoumi organized an interfaith gathering at the Holocaust Memorial in Drancy.

Drancy, a suburb of Paris, was the location of an internment camp for Jews being deported to extermination camps during the Nazi occupation of France in World War II.