JERUSALEM, Israel - Abdallah Chatila, a wealthy Lebanese Christian businessman who spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on Hitler artifacts at an auction to keep them out of the hands of neo-Nazis, was publicly honored by the President of Israel on Sunday.
President Reuven Rivlin hosted Chatila at an event in Jerusalem and thanked him for buying and donating the memorabilia to Keren Hayesod, a Jewish organization that promotes Jewish immigration to Israel.
The artifacts, which include Hitler’s very own top hat, are now kept safe at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem, never to be used or cherished by those who hate the Jewish people.
“Your donation is of great importance at this time, when people are trying to deny historical truth,” Rivlin told Chatila. “These artifacts, which you are generously making available to Yad Vashem, will help convey the legacy of the Holocaust to the next generation who will not meet survivors."
— Reuven Rivlin (@PresidentRuvi) December 8, 2019
"What you did was seemingly so simple,” Rivlin continued. “But this act of grace shows the whole world how to fight the glorification of hatred and incitement against other people. It was a truly human act. I know you have been thanked many times, but it was important for me to say it loud and clear here at Beit HaNasi in Jerusalem – we appreciate it and thank you for it very much."
Abdallah Chatila graciously thanked the president and said it is a “great honor” to be with him in Jerusalem. He also encouraged others to take action against anti-Semitism.
“When I read about the artifacts being for sale, I immediately thought I have to buy them and destroy them. Then I thought I have no right to decide what to do with the items, and am so glad they are now at Yad Vashem. I feel a shiver when I understand how important this is for the Jewish people, but I think there is a wider message for the whole world, that 'never again' is not a meaningless slogan. Through acts such as this, we can ensure that these things never happen again."
Chatila also visited the Yad Vashem and paid respects to the victims of the Holocaust.
World Chairman of Keren Hayesod Sam Grundwerg and Chairman of Yad Vashem Avner Shalev also honored Chatila at the event.
"What you did as a spontaneous act ensures that these artifacts do not end up in the wrong hands. You stopped that, and brought them to the place where history is told and where the next generation is educated. Thank you very much,” said Chair of Yad Vashem Avner Shalev.
Sam Grundwerg, World Chairman of Keren Hayesod said Chatila “shed light” on a “very dark” chapter of Jewish history.