Lebanese man who gave Nazi items to Israel: ‘Antisemitism out in the open’

Abdallah Chatila, a Geneva-based Lebanese businessman, said on Sunday that antisemitic and xenophobic hatred in Europe has reached new heights, following his purchase of Nazi memorabilia that he bought to stop the items being used by neo-Nazis. Chatila bought some €600,000 worth of Nazi-era items, including a top hat thought to once belong to Adolf Hitler, and a silver-plated copy of Mein Kampf that once belonged to senior Nazi Hermann Goering, in order to stop them falling into the hands of neo-Nazis and Nazi sympathizers who would use them to glorify Hitler and his genocidal regime.Chatila has donated the items to Keren Hayesod UIA, and they will be transferred to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum once he takes possession of them, which is expected to take several months. “Money was only the means, I never planned to spend $10 or a million dollars, I just felt I had to do this,” Chatila said on Sunday in Jerusalem. “Living in Europe and seeing [how] antisemitism, fascism and populism is going so far, I didn’t want history to repeat itself,” he continued. “Xenophobia does it exist. We see it every day, and people are not hiding hatred against Jews and Arabs or other populations. The fact that they’re not hiding it anymore, like they used to 20 or 25 years ago shows that we’re stepping into a different league of hatred in the world.”Asked what needs to be done to reverse the tide of growing xenophobia and antisemitism, Chatila said “Do what I just did. Talk, be open, be courageous and speak up.”Earlier on Sunday, Chatila met with President Reuven Rivlin who thanked him for his actions “at a time when people are trying to deny historical truth.”Rivlin described Chatila’s purchase and donation as “an act of grace,” which would “show the whole world how to fight the glorification of hatred and incitement against other people.”Chatila said that when he first heard of the auction of the items in Munich, Germany, he thought that he had to buy them and then 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,” he said.“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.”

*story by Jerusalem Post