AJC presented its Moral Courage Award posthumously to Zidan Seef, an Israeli Druze policeman who was fatally wounded while trying to stop a terrorist attack on a Jerusalem synagogue last November. His widow, Rinal Seef, accepted the award.
Four rabbis were brutally murdered by two Palestinian terrorists inside the Har Nof synagogue. Zidan Seef, one of the first responders, was able to prevent additional bloodshed among worshipers by firing his gun, bringing down one of the terrorists, who then was killed by another officer. However, the other terrorist shot Seef at close range. He later succumbed to his wounds at the hospital.
“In the coming years, Zidan, the courage you showed will be set in stone in our collective memory, and your actions will become an example for Israel’s security forces and for all who love Israel, ” said Rinal Seef, who traveled to Washington especially to accept the award in memory of her late husband.
“On behalf of AJC, as a Jew, as an Israeli, I say to you that we mourn with you and we can only imagine your sense of loss and grief, ” said Avital Leibovich, director of AJC Jerusalem, who presented the award.
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“Your husband, and now you, have given us all strength and inspiration at a time when we desperately need it.”
Rinal Seef spoke emotionally and passionately about her late husband, their dedication to Israel, and the pain of having their family tragically harmed.
“It was Zidan’s dream to serve in the Israeli Police Force, ” she said. “He dreamed of protecting the weak, maintaining order, and enforcing the law. He never broke a law or a rule, and always viewed his work as a police officer as a kind of royal service. He saw his job as a way for a man, like himself, who loved to give love, to give back to the community by helping out and maintaining order.”
The Seefs are from Druze villages in northern Israel, Zidan from Yanuch and Rinal from Sme’ah. They married after she graduated from high school.
“Zidan, you were dearer to me than anything. You gave me your love and I gave you mine. You taught me how to love life. I married you as an innocent young girl, just out of high school, with no worldly knowledge. I always trusted you to teach me and guide me down the right path, ” said Rinal Seef.
“I always kept you on a pedestal, and it never occurred to me for a moment that our time together would be short because you always gave me a sense of confidence and hope. I was honored to love you and to be loved by you. Every time we talked on the phone, you touched the depths of my soul. Our love gave us the greatest gift in this world, our precious daughter Liren.”
Thanking AJC for its “steadfast support, ” Seef said, “I especially appreciate the work AJC does with minorities, a topic especially relevant and important to me as a representative of a minority in Israel.”
Seef emphasized that “the covenant between the Druze people and the Jewish people is a covenant of life and death, and cannot be broken.”
“We the Druze people are an integral part of the State of Israel and feel a sense of belonging to the State, ” she said. “Our partnership with the Jewish people is eternal.”
Following the Har Nof attack, Israeli officials praised Seef. “Zidan’s heroism stands out, ” said Israel’s Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino.
“He acted like a hero, and reflected, in a way that inspires respect, the values and goals of the Israel Police in maintaining order, security, and [upholding] the public quiet as a supreme value.”
Seef is one of two individuals receiving the AJC Moral Courage Award posthumously during the AJC Global Forum 2015. The other is Dan Uzan, a Jewish volunteer security guard murdered while protecting a Copenhagen synagogue in February. Uzan family members came to Washington to accept the honor. A third Moral Courage honoree this year is Lassana Bathily, who risked his life to save Jews during the terrorist attack on the Hyper Cacher kosher market in Paris in January.
Past recipients of AJC’s Moral Courage Award include:
Latifa Ibn Ziaten for her determined efforts to counter the influence of radical Islam and extremism in France after her son, Imad, a French soldier, was murdered in March 2012 by a terrorist who went on to kill another two French soldiers, and then a rabbi and three children at a Jewish school in Toulouse.
Tatyana Sapunova, a Russian who suffered serious injury when removing a booby-trapped anti-Semitic sign in Moscow.
Mithal al-Alusi, an Iraqi politician who, after visiting Israel, lost his two sons to the murderous hands of other Iraqis opposed to his outreach.
SOURCE American Jewish Committee