Sharaka (the name means partnership in Arabic), a non-governmental initiative transforming the vision of peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors into a reality, is bringing Arab leaders to this year’s International March of the Living in Poland as part of a yearlong program promoting tolerance through Holocaust education. It coincides with this year’s 80th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, and the 35th anniversary of the march.
The 29-member delegation includes policy experts, media influencers, religious leaders, educators and education officials, and community leaders from Morocco, Bahrain, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, and Algeria, as well as Israeli Arabs. They will participate in the 2-mile march from Auschwitz to Birkenau on Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom HaShoah), April 18.
Sharaka’s launch of its broader Holocaust education initiative in the Arab world was inspired by the historic delegation that the NGO brought to the March of the Living last year, which marked the first time a pan-Arab delegation publicly partook in such a solidarity march. This year’s delegation is twice as large as the 2022 group, featuring a significantly expanded Moroccan group.
“An Arab proverb says that seeing what happens on the spot is better than listening to what is said about what happened there,” said Mohammed Hatimi, a Sharaka participant and history professor at Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah University in Fez, Morocco. “For this reason, nothing beats a visit to a place of memory that is universal in scope. To be present at Auschwitz and to participate in the March is an intense event that reinforces the conviction that I must do my best to teach about the Holocaust and to learn from it. We all need such a pilgrimage for our own education, but also to pay tribute to the millions of victims of human horror — horror caused by extremism taken to the extreme.”
Over the course of the Sharaka Tolerance Program, participants engage in in-person and online lectures and conversations about the Holocaust (including the heroism of Muslims who saved Jews), antisemitism and all forms of extremism and genocide in modern history, sources of moderation in Islam, and what they can do in their societies to promote tolerance.
The program is conducted with assistance from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference), which is sponsored by the “Remembrance, Responsibility and Future” foundation, and supported by the German Federal Ministry of Finance.
The delegation members visited Israel between February 25 and March 3 this year and participated in an extensive seminar at Yad Vashem. They also discovered diverse parts of Israeli society, visited religious and historic sites, learned about tech and innovation, discussed geopolitics, and explored arts and culture.
After the March of the Living, the delegation members will devise and launch follow-up projects in their home communities relating to promoting pluralism, coexistence, and Holocaust education.
“Ultimately, all effective advocacy and change-making begins with education,” said Sharaka Executive Director Dan Feferman. “After their multifaceted and immersive experience with Holocaust education, the Arab participants in our program will bring actionable and transformative lessons back home, positioning them to substantially strengthen the momentum towards greater tolerance that is already underway in their countries thanks to the Abraham Accords.”