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An End to Holocaust Denial for Palestinian Authority Youth

A small grassroots movement is taking shape among Palestinian Authority students who are reaching out for information about the Holocaust.
By Chana Ya'ar
First Publish: 8/19/2010, 3:59 PM / Last Update: 8/19/2010, 6:27 PM

Yad Vashem

The term Holocaust has been used loosely by Arabs for Israel's actions towards the Arab refugees and residents of Gaza, Judea and Samaria, evoking angry responses from Israelis and Jews the world over.  Alternatively, there has been Arab Holocaust denial, and an often repeated Arab narrative claiming that the Arabs are paying the price for the Holocaust because the world gave the Jews a state on Arab land to atone for it, this latter a form of Jewish history and Bible denial that ignores historic Jewish claims to Israel..

Now, a small grassroots movement is beginning to take shape among Palestinian Authority students who are reaching out for information about what the real Holocaust was..

A delegation of 22 students made a trip to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem on Wednesday to learn more on the subject. The group was led by 21-year-old Mujahid Sarsur, who learned from an Israeli roommate during his time at university about the murder of six million Jews during World War II. 

As the youths fasted – this being Islam's holy month of Ramadan – they listened to a special guide explain in Arabic the history of images they clearly found horrifying.

Writing for The Associated Press, Aron Heller described the girls in hijab (hair coverings) as they “turned away in horror at the sight of Jewish corpses being shoveled into pits.” They “huddled together,” he wrote, as they watched footage from the Auschwitz death camp. A 15-year-old PA boy attending high school in Jordan told Heller the field trip helped him to understand “Jews had nowhere else to go” after World War II.

Holocaust denial, common throughout the Arab world, can be found in the doctoral dissertation written by PA Chairman and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas as well. The work, entitled “The Other Side: The secret relations between Nazism and the leadership of the Zionist movement,” earned Abbas a PhD at Moscow's Patrice Lumumba University.

PA leaders have been accused of allowing PA media to laud Hitler and of using textbooks that include Holocaust denial.

Holocaust denial is also promoted by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has called the Nazi genocide of the Jews “a myth” and has hosted a conference devoted to the subject.

A new Iranian website that promotes Holocaust denial, holocartoons.com, uses “a combination of Holocaust denial and distortion, illustrated with anti-Semitic caricatures,” to further illustrate the point, noted a statement from Yad Vashem. The site, which features gateways in Farsi, Arabic and English, is financed by a cultural non-governmental organization (NGO), according to the cartoonist who launched it, Maziar Bijani.