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International Day of the Rescuer 2017

Friday 31 March 2017

On March 7, in our newly established “Garden of Rescuers” near the Spiritual Center, we celebrated an event for two present day rescuers.

The idea originated in cooperation with the Gariwo organization, close to the date of “The European Day of the Righteous” which was adopted by the European Parliament in 2012.

In Europe, the day is intended “to commemorate those who have stood up against crimes against humanity and totalitarism with their own moral responsibility” and is celebrated every March 6.

Gariwo founder Gabriele Nissim proposed to organize a Day of the Righteous in Wahat al-Salam – Neve Shalom. The village accepted the proposal and it was decided this year to honor persons who are involved in present day acts of rescuing others.

Here in Wahat al-Salam – Neve Shalom, we have decided to use the term “rescuers” rather than “righteous, since, says Yair Auron, who is responsible for the project, “righteous” is a term with moral, philosophical or religious significance “ whereas the act of rescuing other human beings can be determined factually and those who act to save others deserve to be honored.

This year we decided to honor Regina and Christopher Catrambone (MOAS) of Italy, and Hamadi Abdesslem of Tunisia.

The Catrambones are the founders of Migrant Offshore Aid Station, (MOAS), the organization that has saved more than 33,000 refugees from the Mediterranean Sea. Christina Catrambone came to the event and spoke about her work.

Hamadi Abdelsslem, rescued tourists during an attack at the Bardo Museum in Tunis. Hamadi is unable to attend the event but sent us a video clip for the event, in which he spoke of his appreciation for being recognized in this way by a joint Palestinian – Jewish village.

On behalf of Gariwo, which provided funding, we were honored to receive a senior member of the organization, the well-known senior Italian journalist Antonio Ferraro.
After a buffet meal at the Pluralistic Spiritual Community Center, we descended to the olive grove designated as the Garden of Rescuers, on the eastern side of the house of silence.

There we were met by the children of the Primary School. They were well prepared thanks to Prof. Auron, who had spoken to the fifth and sixth grade classes about the event’s significance.

The school’s choir and musicians performed two songs for us.

We heard speeches by Prof. Auron (on youtube) and Dyana Shaloufi on behalf of the Peace Museum, by Rajaa Danaf of the PSCC, by Reem Nashef on behalf of the Primary School, and others, then heard a presentation by Regina Catrambone about MOAS. Antonio Ferrero spoke about the heroic action of Hamadi Abdesslam of Tunisia. (In parallel, members of Gariwo were in Tunisia to honor him).

Shay Wineapple, a senior researcher who has been assisting Yair Auron in his efforts to uncover stories of rescuers in times of conflict, also spoke on recent local instances of rescuing members of the other people in times of dire need.
The day’s proceedings were well publicized on Italian television as well as in Coriere della Sera.

In the evening, in the Hotel Lobby, we invited village members to see a short and moving documentary that had been shown recently on Israeli television, about the actions of MOAS on the high seas. Regina Catrambone spoke and answered questions and Antonio Ferrero spoke again about the actions of Hamadi Abdesslam.
We plan to repeat this event of honoring rescuers every year upon the occasion of the European Day of the Righteous. We hope to honor, besides international figures, also Palestinians and Jews who have saved persons of the other community. Prof. Auron will be responsible for preparing relevant case studies.

Thanks to all those in the village and the Primary School who helped to organize the event, and to the Gariwo organization which provided necessary funding.

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