On the day of the anniversary of Kristallnacht or Night of the Broken Glass (referring to the thousands of shattered windows that littered the streets when German Nazis attacked Jewish people starting 09 November 1938), a movie about the plan of the Philippine President Manuel L. Quezon to rescue and shelter in the Philippines 1,200 German and Austrian Jews was featured in a special screening held at Vox Cinemas in Dubai’s Mall of the Emirates on 09 November 2020.
The special screening was attended by Philippine Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Hjayceelyn M. Quintana, the Head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MOFAIC) Office in Dubai Sheikh Maktoum Bin Butti Al Maktoum, Rabbi Levi Duchman of the Jewish Community Centre in Dubai, and representatives of the Filipino and Jewish communities in the UAE, including those of Filipino-Emirati and Filipino-Jewish descent.
In her remarks, Ambassador Quintana highlighted the Philippines’ humanitarian legacy of welcoming refugees who were forced to flee conflict and persecution (citing the Russian in 1917, Jews in 1934, Spaniards in 1936, the Vietnamese in 1974 onwards, Southeast Asians in the 1980s and East Timorese in 2000).
Ambassador Quintana commended Star Cinema and Managing Director for Europe, Middle East and Africa Mr. Joseph Arnie Garcia for bringing to the UAE “Quezon’s Game” for the benefit of Filipinos in the UAE, particularly the younger generation, and other communities in the UAE. Little is actually known about the heroism done by President Quezon and the Filipino people in providing safe haven to Holocaust refugees in the 1930s. President Quezon’s open doors policy was in sharp contrast with policies of other countries at that time.
Ambassador Quintana said that the movie highlights President Quezon’s compassion for the oppressed and his deep sense of justice, the direct underpinnings of well-known Filipino trait of being hospitable and welcoming, and his actions saved the lives of 1,200 Jews who would have perished in the hands of the Nazis.
Ambassador Quintana also cited the timeliness of the message of the movie. On 15 September 2020, the UAE signed the Abraham Accord with Israel and declared its commitment to the promotion of tolerance, peaceful coexistence, and respect for human dignity and freedom.
Ambassador Quintana thanked the UAE for its unrelenting efforts to espouse tolerance and understanding across the myriad of cultures and faiths that strengthen the fabric of UAE society.