The Pitfalls of Holocaust Education in the Arab World

January 19, 2023 | Lyn Julius
About the author:

Earlier this month, the United Arab Emirates announced that its elementary and secondary schools will begin teaching about the Shoah. This is undoubtedly “good news,” writes Lyn Julius, while warning of four potential negative consequences that must be guarded against:

One is that some supporters of the Palestinians misappropriate the Holocaust to draw a false comparison to the Palestinian nakba. The flight of some 700,000 Arabs from soon-to-be Israel, however, was not due to systemized mass murder, but rather the 1948 Arab-Israeli war.

The second danger is that teaching the Holocaust tends to portray anti-Semitism as a purely European phenomenon. It shifts the focus away from Arab and Muslim anti-Semitism, perpetuating the myth that Jews and Arabs had always lived in peace and harmony before Israel’s establishment. As Matti Friedman put it, most Jews are in Israel because of the Arabs, not the Nazis. They arrived as refugees from riots, the Arab League’s Nuremberg-style discriminatory laws, arbitrary arrests, human-rights abuses, and forced dispossession.

The third danger is that Arabs could be misleadingly portrayed as “innocent bystanders” to the Holocaust who “paid the price” for a European problem through the creation of Israel. . . . The fourth danger is that teaching the Holocaust will ignore active Arab collaboration with the Nazis, and the specific role played by the Palestinian mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini. . . . It is necessary to understand the connection, often erased for reasons of political correctness, between the Nazis, their Arab sympathizers, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Read more on JNS: