Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Dutch Righteous Among the Nations Professor Johan van Hulst, aged 101, on Thursday as part of his two-day visit to the Netherlands. The meeting took place after the prime minister's visit to the Dutch House of Representatives where he held a meeting with Chairperson Gerdi Verbeet and with Dutch Senate Chairperson Fred de Graaf.
Born in Amsterdam in 1911, Van Hulst studied psychology and pedagogy at Amsterdam's VU University. During World War II Van Hulst served as principal of the Pedagogical Academy in Amsterdam and was personally involved in saving the lives of hundreds of Jewish children. At that time the Nazi's had separated local Jewish children from their parents, placing them in a creche (child center) before the youngsters were to be transported to concentration camps throughout Europe. With his Academy being adjacent to the facility Van Hulst was able to absorb hundreds of Jewish children, sending them off to various Dutch families for hiding and saving them from almost certain death at the hands of the Nazis.
In light of his unselfish actions, in 1970 Yad Vashem bestowed Van Hulst with a medal and certificate of honor recognizing him as a Righteous Gentile. After the war Van Hulst entered the Dutch political arena where he remained active from 1956 until 1981.
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At the meeting Netanyahu presented van Hulst with a copy of the Hebrew Bible, given as a token of appreciation for his efforts to save Jewish lives during World War II. "It is said that whoever saves a single life it as if he saved the whole world, and you saved hundreds. On behalf of the Jewish People and all of humanity, I would like to thank you," said Netanyahu to Van Hulst.
Van Hulst went on to thank the prime minister for the Bible, telling Netanyahu that over the years he has read through the text and is enlightened by it. "I work six days a week and my Sabbath joy is to study the Bible," said the prime minister. Netanyahu went on to mention his father, Benzion Netanyahu, who is also 101 years old.
A seasoned chess champion, Van Hulst also challenged the prime minister to a game of chess adding, "it is my hope that you will act with wisdom so as to bring about peace to Israel and its surrounding nations."
According to the Prime Minister's Office the goal of Netanyahu's visit to the Netherlands is to strengthen ties, advance cooperation and the establishment of an inter-governmental cooperation council. The aim of such a council would be to promote bilateral defense and foreign affairs cooperation and to increase economic collaboration, specifically relating to the private sector, student exchanges, agrotechnology development, research and development, the environment and tourism.
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