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Peres recognizes 11 Belgian families who saved Jews

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(JTA) — Israeli President Shimon Peres and the crown prince of Belgium recognized 11 families who saved Jews during the Holocaust.

Peres and Prince Phillipe bestowed the decorations of the Righteous Among the Nations on the 11 Belgian families on Tuesday.

"On behalf of the State of Israel and the Jewish people, I thank you from the depths of my heart," Peres told the families. "The Righteous Among the Nations brought light into the world, and exhibited bravery and courage in the face of the atrocities of the Holocaust."

Peres told them they "should be very proud because there were not many like you."

Holocaust survivors from around the world were among those attending the ceremony along with Jewish organizational leaders, government ministers, lawmakers and the heads of faith communities in Belgium.

Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders said the lessons of the Holocaust will be taught to future generations and that the Righteous Among the Nations showed that even in the darkest times, when lives are in danger, it is possible to say no to cooperation with cruelty.

In the past year, Belgium accepted responsibility for its involvement in the fate of the Jews during the Holocaust and saw a new museum inaugurated in the city of Mechelen, from where trains departed to the Auschwitz death camp.

Peres was the guest of honor Tuesday evening at an event organized by the Jewish community of Belgium. On Wednesday, he is scheduled to meet with the leadership of the European Union.

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