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

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

Why Arab Jerusalem Has Stayed Quiet

One of Hamas’s most notable failures since October 7 is that it has not succeeded in inspiring a violent uprising either among the Palestinians of the West Bank or the Arab citizens of Israel. The latter seem horrified by Hamas’s actions and tend to sympathize with their own country. In the former case, quiet has been maintained by the IDF and Shin Bet, which have carried out a steady stream of arrests, raids, and even airstrikes.

But there is a third category of Arab living in Israel, namely the Arabs of Jerusalem, whose intermediate legal status gives them access to Israeli social services and the right to vote in municipal elections. They may also apply for Israeli citizenship if they so desire, although most do not.

On Wednesday, off-duty Israeli soldiers in the Old City of Jerusalem shot at a Palestinian who, it seems, was attempting to attack them. But this incident is a rare exception to the quiet that has prevailed in Arab Jerusalem since the war began. Eytan Laub asked a friend in an Arab neighborhood why:

Listen, he said, we . . . have much to lose. We already fear that any confrontation would have consequences. Making trouble may put our residence rights at risk. Furthermore, he added, not a few in the neighborhood, including his own family, have applied for Israeli citizenship and participating in disturbances would hardly help with that.

Such an attitude reflects a general trend since the end of the second intifada:

In recent years, the numbers of [Arab] Jerusalemites applying for Israeli citizenship has risen, as the social stigma of becoming Israeli has begun to erode and despite an Israeli naturalization process that can take years and result in denial (because of the requirement to show Jerusalem residence or the need to pass a Hebrew language test). The number of east Jerusalemites granted citizenship has also risen, from 827 in 2009 to over 1,600 in 2020.

Oddly enough, Laub goes on to argue, the construction of the West Bank separation fence in the early 2000s, which cuts through the Arab-majority parts of Jerusalem, has helped to encouraged better relations.

Read more at Jerusalem Strategic Tribune

More about: East Jerusalem, Israeli Arabs, Jerusalem