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Relatives of Egyptian Righteous Gentile Refusing Yad Vashem Award

Muhammad Helmy, an Egyptian doctor who lived in Berlin during the war rescued a Jewish family, but his own family ignores his Yad Vashem praise.
In 1969, Dr. doctor Mohamed Helmy and his wife (right) hosted the woman he saved, Anna Boros-Gutman and her daughter in Berlin.

In 1969, Dr. doctor Mohamed Helmy and his wife (right) hosted the woman he saved, Anna Boros-Gutman and her daughter in Berlin.
Photo Credit: Yad Vashem

The relative of the first Arab to have been recognized as a Righteous Gentile says that his family is not interested in receiving the award in his name posthumously, blaming the murky relationship between Egypt and Israel.

The Egyptian doctor Mohamed Helmy was honored posthumously last month by Israel’s Holocaust Memorial for hiding Jews in Berlin during the Nazis’ genocide. In cases like these, when the recipient is already departed, the museum attempts to locate their living relatives, so they can be honored in a special ceremony. But a family member tracked down by The Associated Press last 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, 66, dressed in a veil, told The Associated.

Or, in other words, why didn’t uncle know better than to go crazy and save those Jews?

I know it must be very scary for the poor woman to realize that she and her family could be penalized by their neighbors, if not by someone in authority, for the bravery of their uncle. So I don’t blame her, but, still, this looks and sounds so pathetic. One wonders what would be the chances of a Jew in today’s Cairo to find shelter with the local gentiles.

A German historian has assisted the Associated Press in obtaining Helmy’s wife’s death certificate—she passed away in Cairo, in 1998. The documentation has revealed that three of the Helmys’ relatives are living in Cairo.

Mervat Hassan said the family didn’t want an award from Israel, but she quickly added: “I respect Judaism as a religion and I respect Jews. Islam recognizes Judaism as a heavenly religion.”

It’s down here, on the planet, that they seem to have most of the trouble with us, most notably our embarrassing tendency not to agree to get killed by the trainloads, a fine Jewish tradition that we no longer practice.

“Helmy was not picking a certain nationality, race or religion to help,” Hassan insisted. “He treated patients regardless of who they were.”

Possibly, except for the facts as they were recorded by those pesky, grateful Jews at Yad Vashem:

When the Nazis began deporting Jews, Dr. Helmy hid 21-year-old Anna Boros, a family friend, at a cabin on the outskirts of the city, and provided her relatives with medical care. After Boros’ relatives admitted to Nazi interrogators that he was hiding her, he arranged for her to hide at an acquaintance’s house before authorities could inspect the cabin. The four family members survived the war and immigrated to the U.S.

He not only saved four Jewish lives, but very much risked his own.

Yad Vashem has the names of other relatives of Helmy that appeared in his will as his heirs, and forwarded this information to the Egyptian ambassador in Israel. Hopefully, when the authorities in Egypt will find them they won’t punish them for the “sins” of their brave uncle.

About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.


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33 Responses to “Relatives of Egyptian Righteous Gentile Refusing Yad Vashem Award”

  1. Sean Porbin says:

    Hmmm…. difficult to honor heros, no less find them.

  2. Sean Porbin says:

    Hmmm…. difficult to honor heros, no less find them.

  3. Sean Porbin says:

    Hmmm…. difficult to honor heros, no less find them.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Even if the family is not anti-Semitic, they're probably afraid that they will be murdered by the Muslim Brotherhood or other Islamic extremists.

  5. Bernice Carus Lite says:

    I wish his extended family members would have the same respect and regard for human life as their uncle had! He still remains a hero no matter what they believe!

  6. I wish his extended family members would have the same respect and regard for human life as their uncle had! He still remains a hero no matter what they believe!

  7. Lisa Kamins says:

    he was probably threaten with murder if he accepted… islam….

  8. Lisa Kamins says:

    he was probably threaten with murder if he accepted… islam….

  9. Donna Lack says:

    How sad. They dishonor his memory by not accepting the award. Isn’t Islam all about honor?

  10. Donna Lack says:

    How sad. They dishonor his memory by not accepting the award. Isn’t Islam all about honor?

  11. Rebecca Zuckerberg Cohen says:

    interesting.

  12. 100% agree with Douglas. They are afraid today under the Muslim Brotherhood to accept a "Jewish" Award.

  13. and its making me sad

  14. The depth and breadth of Muslim anti-Semitism is sickening. Enough multicultural BS. Call Muslims what they are … a hate group.

  15. Cody Flecker says:

    Save your time, and save your money. These anti semites will never learn. Forget the award and recognition.

  16. Etta Chaya Brummel says:

    it is exactly as it was in WW2 / holocaust. Some people wanted to help Jews but were afraid that their neightbors and contacts would turn against them.

  17. Yosef Begun says:

    Плоды воспитания, увы. Они ненавидят Израиль, соданный для спасения народа после Холокоста. Но эта ненависть, которую они воспитывают у своих детей, оборачивается против них самих. Никто не убивает столько мусульман,сколько они убивают друг друга сами.

  18. Avner Cobrin says:

    Maybe one day in my lifetime we will all be able to get over the hatred that exists. How sad is this that no matter how many times Israel has tried to make peace with the Arabs, the Arabs have rejected Israel.

  19. Avner Cobrin says:

    Maybe one day in my lifetime we will all be able to get over the hatred that exists. How sad is this that no matter how many times Israel has tried to make peace with the Arabs, the Arabs have rejected Israel.

  20. Anonymous says:

    "Why didn’t uncle know better than to go crazy and save those Jews?"
    Why didn't the Jews know better than to go crazy and honor an Arab?

  21. AnnCamille Stubbs says:

    If they had accepted the award they would have been killed

  22. AnnCamille Stubbs says:

    Because Israel was honourable

  23. Yechiel Baum says:

    Those of his relatives that told the Nazi's that their relative was hiding the Jews and then made their way to the USA, should be sort out and brought to trial for abetting the Nazi's.

    We have yet to see Eygpt honor any of those Jews that brought it wealth and medicine i.e. the Rambam and others which only shows that Ismael is the satan of mankind which is why Mother Sarah had Father Abraham expel his bastard son born of his Egyptian whore making Ismael a bastard.

  24. THIS IS SURPRISING NEWS, WHY THE WORLD HAS BECOME A FEARFUL PLACE FOR ONE TO LIVE, IT WILL BE A PAINFUL THING IF THEY CANNOT APPRECIATE THIS HONOR, WELL THEY HAVE THEIR OWN CHOICE

  25. Basha Kline says:

    The family of Mohamed Helmy who saved the Jews should acccept the award with relish, if only to say their uncle bequeathed us more Jews to hate! – to appease their neighbours of course!!

  26. ONE MUSLIM SAVES JEWS,
    SEVERAL MUSLIMS WANT TO KILL MUSLIMS
    BECAUSE ONE MUSLIM SAVED A JEW.

    NOT GOOD TO BE A MUSLIM in a MUSLIM COUNTRY, THEN.
    OH BOY!!!

  27. Can't they just take the money?

  28. The sad side of this to me is they are not in agreement to save innocent people just because they are Jews or non-Muslims…So sad people can be so Evil…Thank you.

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