Robert Satloff is executive director of The Washington Institute, a post he assumed in January 1993.
Seeking a hopeful response to the plague of Holocaust denial that swept across the Middle East, one author set off on a quest to find an Arab hero whose story could change the way local communities view Jews, themselves, and their own history.
Was there an "Arab Schindler"? An "Arab Wallenberg"? Holocaust memorial institutions, like Israel's Yad Vashem, have honored more than 20,000 people for saving Jews during World War II -- but not a single Arab is listed among them. Seeking a hopeful response to the plague of Holocaust denial sweeping across the Arab and Muslim worlds, Robert Satloff set off on a quest to find an Arab hero whose story would change the way Arabs view Jews, themselves, and their own history. In this book -- a mix of history, travelogue, and memoir -- Satloff tells the story of finding much more.
Among the Righteous: Lost Stories from the Holocaust's Long Reach into Arab Lands
A new Postscript discusses the powerful reaction to the book -- in Arab countries, in Israel and in the United States -- as well as an account the author's efforts to bring together, for the first time, the daughter of an "Arab Righteous" and the daughter of the family he saved.
The U.S. Department of State sponsored a ten-day speaking tour of Egypt and Israel by Dr. Satloff to deliver the first-ever series of lectures to Middle East audiences on the Arab role in the Holocaust and its political relevance today. Read more about this speaking tour.
Dr. Satloff addressed a Washington Institute Policy Forum upon the publication of Among the Righteous and presented images and documents from the book. Watch the video.
As a result of Dr. Satloff's work, the Israeli national Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem is considering recognizing Khaled Abdelwahhab as "Righteous Among the Nations" for risking his life to save Tunisian Jews from Nazi persecution. He would be the first Arab so recognized. Read the AP account.
NewsHour with Jim Lehrer interviewed Dr. Satloff about Among the Righteous. Watch the program.
What the Critics Are Saying about Among the Righteous
"Robert Satloff is a man with a mission. He believes that if contemporary Arabs knew about Arabs who rescued Jews during the Holocaust, they would reject the Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism that are now so prevalent in the Arab/Muslim world. This book tells of his quest to track down the history of those Arabs' deeds. . . . Satloff's efforts to tell the story of Arab behavior -- both complicity and heroism -- during the Holocaust are important. The stories of rescuers of all faiths and ethnicities should be told. Not only is their courage part of the history of the Holocaust, but it also gives the lie to bystanders' claims that nothing could have been done." --Washington Post
"[Satloff's book] will force a rewriting of the history of the Holocaust. His conclusion: The Holocaust is an Arab story as well as a European one." --New York Post
". . . Leaping from continent to continent and from country to country, Satloff travels from Europe to North Africa, and from Tunisia and Morocco to Algeria, hunting for witnesses to history. Like a detective trying to solve a crime -- the disappearance of the Jews of Tunis, Algiers and Casablanca -- he trusts almost no one. Still, he continues his journey, and at times he tells a riveting tale. He settles in North Africa, gathers clues and builds a convincing case. By the end of the book, he presents a persuasive case that Arabs did indeed behave as 'righteous' men and women in the fight against fascism, as righteously, perhaps as, say, Oskar Schindler, the German industrialist celebrated in the movie Schindler's List. "The story twists this way and then that way, shuttling back and forth relentlessly from good news to bad news, and from despair to elation. Few political stories come as complex as this one, and few stir up as much passion." --San Francisco Chronicle
"Did any Arabs save any Jews during the Holocaust? . . . Mr. Satloff's slender volume answers the question -- convincingly and affirmatively: There were such Arabs. He provides inspiring and heartbreaking personal accounts of survivors of this underexplored aspect of Holocaust history. . . . Among the important conclusions of his four years of research in eleven countries is that much of the history of this era has been deliberately ignored or suppressed. . . . "The most compelling parts of the book are those in which Mr. Satloff seeks remnants of the labor and 'punishment' camps in Morocco near the never-completed Trans-Sahara railway, built by slave labor, much of it Jewish, between 1941 and 1942, or searches for relatives of Jewish survivors and their Arab saviors." --New York Sun
"Leading American expert on the Middle East Robert Satloff makes us aware of ... what the Holocaust historiography has long overlooked: the saga of over half a million Jews in the Arab lands during Nazi Germany, Italian fascism, and Vichy France." --India's Power Politics (PDF)
Advance Praise for Among the Righteous
"Robert Satloff has written an intense and searching and honest book. He has looked into a great unexplored terrain: the reach of the Holocaust into Arab lands. He has returned with both heartbreaking and bracing stories. A supremely honest author, he has no axe to grind, he is moved only by the search for truth."--Fouad Ajami, author of Dream Palace of the Arabs and The Foreigner's Gift
"[C]ompelling . . . groundbreaking for Jewish, Middle Eastern, and Holocaust studies."--Publishers Weekly
"Robert Satloff has made an astonishing breakthrough in our historical knowledge. The work reads like a detective story."--Sir Martin Gilbert, author of Churchill and Kristallnacht
"[An] engrossing and deeply personal study. . . . A thoughtful work showing that hatred -- and compassion -- can flourish anywhere."--Kirkus Reviews