A member of the family of the first Arab honored by Israel for risking his life to save Jews during the Holocaust says the family isn’t interested in the recognition.
The Egyptian doctor, Mohamed Helmy, was honored posthumously last month by Israel’s Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem for hiding Jews in Berlin during the Nazi genocide, but a family member tracked down by The Associated Press this week in Cairo said her relatives wouldn’t accept the award, one of Israel’s most prestigious.
“If any other country offered to honor Helmy, we would have been happy with it,” Mervat Hassan, the wife of Helmy’s great-nephew, told the AP during an interview.
She cited tense relations between Egypt and Israel as the reason for not accepting the honor.
Mohamed Helmy was an Egyptian doctor who lived in Berlin and hid several Jews during the Holocaust. Last month, he was honored as “Righteous Among the Nations” — the highest honor given to a non-Jew for risking great personal dangers to rescue Jews from the Nazis’ gas chambers.
On Sunday, the museum criticized the family’s decision. “We regret that political sentiment seems to have overcome the human aspect and hope one day that the latter will prevail,” Yad Vashem said in a written statement.