D-Day Jewish veteran ‘disgusted’ by honoring in France of Hamas apologist

Cnaan Lidor is The Times of Israel's Jewish World reporter

Mervyn Kersh, a Jewish World War II veteran who took part in 1944's  Normandy Campaign, looks through documents and newspapers from the Second World War, at his home in London, Great Britain, April 8, 2024. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
Mervyn Kersh, a Jewish World War II veteran who took part in 1944's Normandy Campaign, looks through documents and newspapers from the Second World War, at his home in London, Great Britain, April 8, 2024. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

A Jewish veteran of D-Day criticizes French officials for honoring a “Hamas spokesperson,” as he terms it, as part of the 80th anniversary events commemorating the World War II Allied invasion into Nazi-occupied France.

“I see the president of Normandy himself has invited a Hamas spokesman, giving him an honor, a medal, in the last few days,” Londoner Mervyn Kersh, 99, tells The Times of Israel. “I want to tell them how wrong they are and how disgusting it is to those who liberated France,” he says in an interview, referring to the regional government of Normandy, where D-Day happened.

Kersh’s issue is with the honoring on June 4 by the Region of Normandy of Motaz Azaiza, a Palestinian journalist from Gaza who has justified the October 7 atrocities by Hamas against Israelis and, according to some, also glorified Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists during the fighting that the October 7 onslaught triggered.

Azaiza, who is staying in Qatar following his evacuation from Gaza in January aboard a Qatari government aircraft, is the 2024 recipient of the Normandy region’s Prize of Liberty. It comes with a $27,000 check that Azaiza received during a ceremony attended by Hervé Morin, the president of the Normandy region, as part of the 80th anniversary events.

Azaiza is on record as saying that “if you want a besieged Palestinian to condemn” October 7, then “you need to declare that you condemn what Israel [has] been doing against Palestinians before October 7, since 1948 and during the genocide.”

At Normandy, Kersh and other troops “came to rescue France and the rest of Europe, which we did. We all thought that was worth doing. I have my doubts now,” he says, citing Azaiza’s honoring and the rising expression of antisemitism.

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