Jacques Bude, a retired professor whose parents were murdered in the German government’s Auschwitz death camp because they were Jewish, is giving his support to a Palestinian family seeking justice for an Israeli war crime.
“The Ziada family suffered a painful loss due to the decision of Israeli commanders to bomb civilian targets in Gaza in July 2014 and it is incomprehensible that the courts in The Hague granted functional immunity to the commanders,” Bude said.
Gantz was Israeli army chief during Israel’s summer 2014 assault on Gaza that killed more than 2,200 Palestinians, including more than 550 children.
“We can and must help”
It killed Ismail Ziada’s 70-year-old mother Muftia, his brothers Jamil, Yousif and Omar, sister-in-law Bayan, and 12-year-old nephew Shaban, as well as a seventh person visiting the family.
Shortly after the deadly 2014 attack on the Ziada family home, 91-year-old Dutch citizen Henk Zanoli expressed his shock and pain by returning his Righteous Among the Nations medal to Israel.
Zanoli and his mother were given the medal by Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial for hiding a Jewish child from Nazi occupation forces from 1943 until the Netherlands was liberated in 1945.
Ziada is seeking hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages from Gantz and Eshel.
However Dutch courts rejected his lawsuit on the grounds that the pair have immunity from civil liability because they were carrying out official functions.
In February, Ziada announced he is taking his case to the Dutch supreme court.
The family is represented by noted Dutch human rights lawyer Liesbeth Zegveld.
Costs for the lawsuit are being crowdfunded through public donations.
“The Israeli government throws in large sums for the defense of the war criminals, whilst the family has to initiate a crowdfunding campaign to be able to access justice,” Bude said.
Urging people to “make a donation, no matter how small,” Bude added, “we can and must help the Ziada family in this groundbreaking legal fight for justice.”
In 2017, Bude, who is from Belgium, told The Electronic Intifada that “my parents were deported when I was 8. They were murdered in Auschwitz.”
“If I had remained with my parents I would be dead,” Bude added. “Not one child of my age from Belgium came back from deportation.”
Bude survived the war because he was hidden by farmers.
In 1949, the 16-year-old Bude was shipped by the Zionist movement against his will to Israel along with other Jewish orphans. But he hated it there.
“I did not want to stay right from the start,” Bude said.
“They were real racist militarists,” he recalled. “Don’t expect much nuance about Jewishness and Israel from me. For me, Israel is founded on ethnic cleansing. And if I identify with somebody, it is the Palestinian kid.”
While Bude does not make a direct parallel between the Holocaust and Israel’s crimes, he does draw universal lessons from the European genocide.
“The duty of memory is to say never more dehumanization,” Bude said. “If we say ‘never again,’ we have to decide where we stand and condemn it.”
His solidarity with the Ziada family is a practical and moving application of that lesson.