For many decades, Holocaust denial in various forms has run rampant in the Arab world, and education about the subject has been meager. But last week, both Egypt and the United Arab Emirates held unprecedented official commemorations of the Shoah. Robert Satloff, who has done extensive research about the Holocaust in North Africa and about Arabs who saved Jews from persecution, spoke at both events about his hope that
the full picture of the different roles that Arabs played during that terrible time [will] unlock the door to an honest, open, candid discussion with Arabs about the Holocaust. That is because only with an honest, open, candid discussion—such as the one we are having today—can we fulfill the requirement that the United Nations has set out for this day: to remember what happened and to recommit ourselves to the promise of “Never Again.”
I learned that the Holocaust was an Arab story too. . . . What I mean is that a story whose main setting was in Europe also happened in Arab lands—racial laws, confiscation of property, forced labor, hostage taking, deportation, execution. And that, just as in Europe, ordinary people in Arab lands played roles. A certain number helped the persecutors, a larger number watched from the sidelines, and a small group risked their lives to protect Jews. In fact, based on my research, the percentage of rescuers compared to the total number of Jews killed in Arab lands was almost exactly the same—no more, no less—as it was among Europeans.