Terri and I just returned from a trip to Denmark. One of the chief reasons we wanted to be in that country is because of the stand the Danish people took for the Danish Jews in 1943, at great risk to themselves, during the Holocaust.
Denmark was one of the few countries whose people refused to give in to the order that their Jews had to be sent to concentration camps to die. On midnight of October 1, 1943, the eve of Rosh Hashanah, the Nazis planned to apprehend all the 7,500 Jews of Denmark, while they were celebrating the holiday in their homes, and send them to the concentration camps. The Jews were warned, and the vast majority were not at home—they had been taken in by their Christian neighbors and friends who could have been killed for harboring Jews.
Many Danes—again, at the risk of their own lives—helped to take them secretly to coastal villages from which they could be transported on fishing boats to neutral Sweden. Seven thousand Danish Jews were rescued and taken to safety!
When they returned after the war, in many cases their Danish neighbors had watched over their homes, watered their plants and fed their pets. It is such an inspiring story, one of the few such stories to come out of the horror of the Holocaust.
One of the wonderful Danish people we met was Henrik Tuxen. He asked how he—as a lover of Israel working in various ministries in Denmark—can be an ambassador for Israel, in the context of rising anti-Israel sentiment in Denmark and Europe.
I shared this with him:
The world should know that Israel gives Arab citizens a high degree of democratic opportunity.
I’m not saying the State of Israel is perfect in the way it treats its Arab citizens (or in any other way, for that matter). However, if you asked an Israeli Arab if he or she would like to move to one of our neighboring Arabic countries—like Egypt, Jordan, Syria or Lebanon, or even to the Palestinian Authority here in the “West Bank”—what do you think their response would be? Surveys confirm that the vast majority of Israeli Arab citizens would prefer to live under Israeli rule and not under the Palestinian Authority.
Very recently we personally observed a hearing in the Supreme Court of Israel. One of the three justices was a Christian Arab— sitting as a judge in the highest court in the Land!
If you visit our local Galilean hospital you will find that a very significant percentage of the doctors are Arabs, around 40%.
Around half of the pharmacists in Israel are Arabs. I know my local pharmacist is.
The Arabs in Israel have political parties and elect members to the Israeli parliament, the Knesset. Every citizen has the right to vote, including the Arabs, both Muslim and Christian (these constitute about 20% of the Israeli citizens).
Freedom of every religion is protected in Israel, unlike in many Muslim countries.