Just when it seemed as though black and Jewish relations could not get any worse, as if by Divine intervention there has been a breakthrough from  an unexpected quarter.  A recent spate of political downturns saw the current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netenyahu strain his international diplomatic relations in a number of ways, for example, his political manoeuvrings and speech in Congress, his anti-Arab comments just before Israel's election which have since been withdrawn, his anti-peace message shortly after winning the election, a very public withdrawal of political support for Netenyahu by America's Congressional Black Caucus, and
the Jewish right-wing's incessant outpouring of hatred towards Barack Obama and the Black Caucus.  

Amidst that darkness, on March 24, 2015, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre presented Lassana Bathily with the 'Medal of Valor' at a National Tribute Dinner at the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles, California, almost 11 weeks to the day of Lassana's courageous saving of 7 Jewish lives in the Hyper-Cacher attack in Paris.

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The Simon Wiesenthal Center based in Los Angeles Beverly Hills is an international Jewish Human Rights organization that fights anti-Semitism worldwide.  It was estabished in 1977 by Rabbi Marvin Hier in Sir Simon Wiesenthal's name to remember the Holocaust, defend human rights and the Jewish people, and to "carry on the continuing fight against bigotry and anti Semitism and pursue an active agenda of related contemporary issues." It is a legacy of Sir Simon Wiesenthal himself who survived the Nazi death camps and worked tirelessly to document the crimes of the Holocaust and hunt down the Nazi perpetrators still at large.  


Lassana Bathily, a young African Muslim migrant living in Paris, now a French citizen, saved 7 Jewish lives from an anti-Semitic murderous seige on January 9, 2015.  For his bravery, Lassana has been awarded the Simon Wiesenthal Medal of Valour.  Lassana is an exemplary candidate to receive this honour, and as a community we have much to be thankful for that people like him are born, act as they do and are then recognised and held up as a beacon of light to Jews and non-Jews around the world.   The Simon Wiesenthal Center, and Lassana Bathily, have gone out of their way to restore faith in humanity.  Through their actions, and through their faith in life and the Jewish people they have reminded us that even when such monsters as the Nazis, and the anti-Semitic religious extremists degrade us and threaten our lives by their hatred and prejudice, there are still human beings that can and will do the right thing at the right time for the right reasons in order to save Jewish lives.  

We do not know whether my petition for Benjamin Netenyahu and his government to officially honour Lassana Bathily for his bravery, in any way contributed to the decision-making that led to the Simon Wiesenthal Center awarding the Medal of Valor to Lassana. The petition achieved only a fraction of its target number of signatures, though it was widely supported by the British Jewish press, and was reported on in Washington DC and pro-Israel based news outlets around the world.  We also do not know whether Bibi played any part in this medal being awarded.  But one thing is for certain, - just as we thought Black, Jewish, and Muslim relations could not get any worse, we have been reminded that there is a God, there is plenty of hope that human beings will continue to act with bravery,  courage and moral integrity, as proven by Lassana Bathily, and the Simon Wiesenthal Centre.
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