A High-Schooler Warns of the Consequences of Neglecting Holocaust Education

April 14 2022

Now a high-school junior, Gabriel Ascoli grew up hearing about the Holocaust from his grandfather, who “told about his perilous escape from fascist Italy as a teenager.” Hours after fleeing to Switzerland with his three-year-old sister, German soldiers showed up at his family’s home in Milan to take them to a concentration camp. Ascoli laments how few stories like his grandfather’s were taught in his Virginia public school, as well as the lack of Holocaust literacy nationwide. As anti-Semitism is on the rise and the “crucial connection” to Holocaust survivors fades, he writes, “Holocaust denialism will become easier and more mainstream.”

“What’s the difference between a Jew and a Boy Scout?” a friend asked, with a broad grin on his face, as I sat down in my seventh-grade science class. “The Boy Scout comes back from camp!” He and everyone else at my table burst out laughing. Did my classmates even know what they were laughing about? Upset but unsure, I feigned a smile. I am ashamed to say I said nothing.

I’m a junior in high school, and my formal education on the Holocaust has consisted of one slide with a brief depiction of concentration camps and a short worksheet. If this is all I’ve been taught, it’s no surprise that Holocaust knowledge nationwide is severely lacking.

Almost one in three American adults say they believe that fewer than 2 million people were killed, and about one in ten people aren’t sure the Holocaust even occurred. In a national survey, 11 percent of millennials and Gen Z report believing that Jews themselves created the Holocaust. To be clear: two-thirds of Europe’s Jewish population was murdered.

Eighty years later, anti-Semitism is on the rise. As a Jewish American, I’ve had to walk past security guards and a metal detector to enter my synagogue for fear of shootings. Swastikas have been painted on schools, Jewish centers, even a State Department elevator. When I recall the chants of “Jews will not replace us” by white supremacist protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, it chills me to my core.

Read more at Los Angeles Times

More about: American Jewry, Anti-Semitism, Education, Holocaust


When It Comes to Peace with Israel, Many Saudis Have Religious Concerns

Sept. 22 2023

While roughly a third of Saudis are willing to cooperate with the Jewish state in matters of technology and commerce, far fewer are willing to allow Israeli teams to compete within the kingdom—let alone support diplomatic normalization. These are just a few results of a recent, detailed, and professional opinion survey—a rarity in Saudi Arabia—that has much bearing on current negotiations involving Washington, Jerusalem, and Riyadh. David Pollock notes some others:

When asked about possible factors “in considering whether or not Saudi Arabia should establish official relations with Israel,” the Saudi public opts first for an Islamic—rather than a specifically Saudi—agenda: almost half (46 percent) say it would be “important” to obtain “new Israeli guarantees of Muslim rights at al-Aqsa Mosque and al-Haram al-Sharif [i.e., the Temple Mount] in Jerusalem.” Prioritizing this issue is significantly more popular than any other option offered. . . .

This popular focus on religion is in line with responses to other controversial questions in the survey. Exactly the same percentage, for example, feel “strongly” that “our country should cut off all relations with any other country where anybody hurts the Quran.”

By comparison, Palestinian aspirations come in second place in Saudi popular perceptions of a deal with Israel. Thirty-six percent of the Saudi public say it would be “important” to obtain “new steps toward political rights and better economic opportunities for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.” Far behind these drivers in popular attitudes, surprisingly, are hypothetical American contributions to a Saudi-Israel deal—even though these have reportedly been under heavy discussion at the official level in recent months.

Therefore, based on this analysis of these new survey findings, all three governments involved in a possible trilateral U.S.-Saudi-Israel deal would be well advised to pay at least as much attention to its religious dimension as to its political, security, and economic ones.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Islam, Israel-Arab relations, Saudi Arabia, Temple Mount