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"The Righteous become universal"

inquiry by French magazine 'Pélerin'


The heading of French newspaper 'Pélerin'

The heading of French newspaper 'Pélerin'

22 July is the day on which France remembers the State's fascist crimes and the Righteous who have stood up against them. For this important occasion French newspaper Pèlerin interviewed Gabriele Nissim, Gariwo Chairman and promoter of the call for the establishment of the European Day of the Righteous. In his talk with French journalist Sophie Laurant, Mr. Nissim expounded the concept of "Righteous" and explained the reasons why, with his campaign at the European Parliament, he has meant to universalize this concept by extending it to all genocides and crimes against humanity. 

"The universal Righteous"
"Pay attention! The Righteous have no call for martyrdom, they are no saints! Even wrongdoers and fascists, such as tycoon Oskar Schindler, have rescued some Jews - explained Mr. Nissim - But everybody 'feels' that they could not respect themselves anylonger nor could feel happy anymore unless they did something for the others". And about the universal nature of the concept of the Righteous he goes on and says: "There have always been and there always will be, every time human dignity will be trampled on by a totalitarian system". 

The Righteous remind us of our freedom
Pèlerin interviewed also philosopher Christophe Bouton, Philosophy professor at the university of Bordeaux III, who is also a member of the University Institute of France. The professor from Bordeaux agrees with Mr. Nissim that the Righteous is extraordinarily brave while being an ordinary man. He is no hero, nor saint, nor an impulsive man who lets him drive away by his feelings towards the other's suffering. He, or she, helps the persecuted, on the contrary, after facing a deep moral dilemma as well as a clash between the unjust laws of the State and the feeling of his own freedom, dignity and happiness. Remembering the Righteous is favourable to democracy as well, considering that it urges leaders to respect law and, otherwise, it recognizes citizens a right to resist. against the violations of the fundamental human rights protected by the Constitution. Bouton mentions the example of soldiers, who must abide of the military rules also inside a democracy. According to Lévinas, remembers the philosopher, the Righteous is the human being who exerts a form of a lofty ethics, in such a situation in which he can "die (for the other), but he cannot kill". Here lies the meaning of the "moral resistance" as different from the "politically motivated" or "militant" one.

19 July 2012

Comments

Dialogue and reconciliation

it is the Righteous, rather than the victims or the persecutors. to speak to the future generations

In the torn social fabric of a country where a genocide case or other crimes against the humankind have occurred, it is very difficult, even after many years, to resume a kind of dialogue to re-establish relationships and rebuild civil coexistence between the victims - including survivors or their relatives, refugees and their heirs - and the persecutors, accomplices or passive bystanders. To this we should add the role of the State, its officials and government members, who often try to deny what occurred and refuse taking up the - however apparent - responsibilities of the massacres. Only the reaction and heeding ability of those who have not bowed their heads to the uniformation of behaviour within the group of the persecutors and have refused to conform to a conduct which conscience cannot approve, can allow people to resume a kind of communication which is able to combine the need for truth and the assumption of responsibility with an opening to future hope and a shared project-making. The Righteous are the only ones who have what it takes to do that.

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