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NEWS - News of B'nai B'rith

During a ceremony held on March 5th at the Palais d'Egmont in Brussels, in the presence of Prince Philip of Belgium, President Shimon Peres presented 22 Belgian citizens with the diploma and medal of « Righteous Among the Nations »
The title of "Righteous among the Nations" is awarded by the Israeli Institute Yad Vashem to honour those non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews from persecution, deportation and extermination by the Nazis and their accomplices. This recognition is awarded not only to those who are still alive, but also posthumously to the next of kin of people that have passed away. 1612 Belgians have already been recognised as "Righteous among the Nations". Many saviours however are not known and have wished to remain anonymous. It has been estimated that between 28.000 and 30.000 Jews were saved in Belgium.
The ceremony honouring the "Righteous among the Nations" also closed the year of the Belgian Presidency of the "International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance" (called in the past : "Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research")
For the last year Belgium has presided over this inter-governmental organisation composed of 31 member states. It was created to reinforce the memory of the Holocaust and to encourage research and education.
In Belgium, this past year has also seen special attention being paid to the memory of the Holocaust. On 9th September 2012   the Prime Minister of Belgium recognised the responsibility of the Belgian State in the persecution of Belgian Jews, and in January the Belgian Senate unanimously approved a unique resolution.
Research, education, monuments and museums not only help to draw attention to the circumstances and processes that led to the Shoah. They also show how important it is to fight against intolerance, racism and anti-Semitism before it is too late.
The example of the "Righteous among the Nations" also proves that it is possible to resist, and above all not to be a "follower" even under the darkest circumstances. The "Righteous among the Nations" always adopted this principle and saved the lives of others at the risk of their own.