Dozens of Arab youths in the National Service (Sherut Le'umi), who serve as counselors in the No'ar Oved Ve'lomed youth group (associated with the Labor Party), participated in a Holocaust Memorial Day ceremony on Sunday night. After the ceremony, the youths discussed the importance of the Holocaust to the Jewish people – and its relevance to Israeli Arabs.
Many of the youths had recently returned from a trip to Poland, where they visited the concentration camps and learned first-hand about the Holocaust. During the discussion, many of them said that they were harshly criticized in their home communities for the trip – but they chose to travel in order to learn and to try to understand what the Jewish people went through in those days, the better to understand how the Jews' suffering during the Holocaust helped shape modern Israel.
All the participants expressed great shock against the persecution and extermination of Jews by the Nazis and their collaborators, with one of them eloquently expressing his feelings by saying that while it was not necessary to love everyone, hate should be banned – because of where it could lead.
Participating in the event were top staff of the No'ar Oved Velomed, along with the CEO of the National Service organization, Sar-Shalom Jerbi. Jerbi praised the youths for their maturity and courage in visiting the camps. “I am confident that we will never again see an organized attempt to destroy any nation,” he said.
Some 150 Arab youths participate in the National Service program.