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September 26, 2016 / 23 Elul, 5776
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Holocaust Studies Take Root among Israel’s Arabs

Can Shoah studies actually help neutralize Arab hatred for Israelis?
Palestinian visitors at Yad Vashem.

Photo Credit: Dara Frank

“This goes to show just how many people in the world are interested in the subject of the Holocaust,” Bachar said. “It is definitely still relevant at the beginning of the 21st century.”

Not all is rosy, of course. Though in 1996 the UN set Jan. 27 as International Holocaust Remembrance Day, “many history teachers in Europe don’t mention the subject of the Holocaust,” Dutch history teacher Manon Wilbrink told Israel’s Yisrael Hayom daily. “Many classes are multicultural, full of immigrants, and [teachers] who teach about the Holocaust are often met with resistance.”

Shulamit Imber, also of Yad Vashem’s International School for Holocaust Studies, says that Nazism and totalitarianism are taught in many countries, but not “critical topics like anti-Semitism and concentration camps. In most cases, the World War II syllabus barely contains a single chapter on the Holocaust.”

As recently as 2009, a University of Haifa survey indicated that 40.5 percent of Israeli Arabs said the Holocaust never happened. The percentage will probably never reach zero, but thanks to the new initiatives and the openness of some Arab teachers, it could very well see a marked decrease in the near future.

Hillel Fendel

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