Young couple in Yad VaShem
Young couple in Yad VaShem Israel news photo: Flash 90

A growing number of Arab youths take part in the Holocaust Studies Program at Holocaust Museum Yad VaShem, according to the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor (MoITL). Most of these youths attend professional schools that are run by MoITL.

According to the ministry, a total of 3,800 eleventh grade students from MoITL schools are participating in the Holocaust Studies Program this year, and of these – about 1,500 are Arabs. Last year, the total number of MoITL school students who participated was about 3,200 and 1,300 of them were Arabs.

Nurit Birger, who is responsible for the youth education system in MoITL, said that “we identify a growing interest and greater tendency of schools from the Arab sector to participate in the study programs about the Holocaust."   

Arabs who participate in the studies have special problems with the subject matter, Birger said, including ignorance of basic Holocaust-related terms and mixed feelings including “suspiciousness toward other people's suffering and social alienation toward Israeli society.”

The Holocaust studies program for Arabs therefore treats the Holocaust first as a universal event, and only later tells the personal stories of Jews who were murdered.

Students who excel in their studies and who express interest in the subject are encouraged to join the youth missions to Poland, with MoITL paying 45% of the cost. The youth delegation scheduled to tour Poland in March is 15% Arab and Druze. 

The total number of Arab schoolchildren in Israel is about 325,000, and the vast majority do not study in MoITL schools.