Dutch nonagenarian returns Righteous Among the Nations medal after six relatives killed in Gaza
By Amira Hass
A 91-year-old Dutch man who was declared a Righteous Among the Nations for saving a Jew during the German occupation on Thursday returned his medal and certificate because six of his relatives were killed by an Israeli bombing in the Gaza Strip last month.
In 2011, the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum declared Henk Zanoli and his late mother, Johana Zanoli-Smit, Righteous Among the Nations for having saved a Jewish child, Elhanan Pinto, during the Nazi occupation of Holland. Pinto, born in 1932, was hidden by the Zanoli family from the spring of 1943 until the Allies liberated Holland in 1945. His parents perished in Nazi death camps.
In hiding a Jewish child, the Zanoli family took a double risk, because it was already under Nazi scrutiny for having opposed the German occupation. Zanoli’s father was sent to the Dachau concentration camp in 1941 due to his opposition to the occupation, and he subsequently died at the Mauthausen concentration camp in February 1945. Henk Zanoli’s brother-in-law was executed because of his involvement in the Dutch resistance, and one of his brothers had a Jewish fiancée, who was also killed by the Nazis.
“The great- great grandchildren of my mother have lost their [Palestinian] grandmother, three uncles, an aunt and a cousin at the hands of the Israeli army ... For me to hold on to the honour granted by the State of Israel, under these circumstances, will be both an insult to the memory of my courageous mother who risked her life and that of her children fighting against suppression and for the preservation of human life as well as an insult to those in my family, four generations on, who lost no less than six of their relatives in Gaza at the hands of the State of Israel.”