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How do schools in Palestine (at least those controlled by the Palestinian government) teach about the events of the Holocaust? What do their official textbooks say on the subject?

Mirror question: How does Israel teach the displacement of the Arab population in 1948 (Nakba)?

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  • Many comments deleted. Please don't use comments to debate the question matter. If you would like to answer, please post a real answer. If you would like to discuss, please use the chat function. Please try to limit these comments to suggesting improvements to the question.
    – JJJ
    Commented May 22, 2021 at 2:09
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    IMHO, linking to the other question as a related one is a bit misleading. Let alone calling them mirror topics Commented May 22, 2021 at 18:26

2 Answers 2

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From what I can tell, it is not part of the education in government-run schools in Gaza or the West Bank (which is not surprising, considering that the Hamas is an antisemitic, terrorist organization) that denies the Holocaust and the PA swings between outright Holocaust denial and downplaying the Holocaust).

Wikipedia eg states:

The Holocaust is not taught in U.N.-run schools for Palestinian refugees in the West Bank, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon, nor is it taught in Palestinian government schools in the West Bank or Gaza.

When the UNRWA was accused of trying to include Holocaust education in schools it runs in Gaza in 2009, Hamas vehemently opposed the idea, calling the Holocaust a "lie made up by the Zionists". Hamas confirmed its position in 2011 when the issue came up again, calling it a "contemptible plot" by "Zionists" with the goal "of creating a reality and telling stories".

Jihad Zakarneh, the Education minister in the West Bank, similarly rejected the idea of teaching Palestinian children about the Holocaust.

A study on The Holocaust in Palestinian Textbooks states that "no mention of the Holocaust was found in Palestinian Authority textbooks".

As an aside, I think the mirror question to the linked question about arab displacement would be a question about the Jewish exodus from the arab world, not a question about the Holocaust

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  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – CDJB
    Commented May 23, 2021 at 12:23
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Palestinian textbooks do not mention the holocaust directly at all. This is similar to other Arab curricula like in Egypt, Syria or Iraq, where a clear emphasis is put on the 'nakba', the 'catastrophe'.

— UNESCO: "The International Status of Education about the Holocaust. A Global Mapping of Textbooks and Curricula", 2015. (online-book)

The article explores how the Holocaust is represented in history textbooks for Palestinian pupils in the Palestinian and Arab-Israeli curricula from a pedagogical perspective. Since no mention of the Holocaust was found in Palestinian Authority textbooks, the study seeks to explain why this is so, while examining representations of the Holocaust in the Arab (Palestinian) Israeli textbooks.

— Samira Alayan: The holocaust in Palestinian textbooks: Differences and similarities in Israel and Palestine / The Holocaust and the Nakba: Memory, National Identity and Jewish-Arab Partnership, 2016. (link)

Further:

It is important for Palestinians to learn about the Holocaust, but several obstacles have prevented this from happening. One key problem is that there is not enough literature on the Holocaust in Arabic, so anti-Semitic books have filled the vacuum.

Other obstacles unique to the Palestinian case relate to the reality of occupation as well as issues connected to education, religion, psychology, and society. Palestinians believe that studying the Nakba—their term for the “disaster” of 1948—should precede education on the Holocaust. They also view the Holocaust as one of the causes behind the ongoing problem of Palestinian displacement, conflict, and resentment. Indeed, Palestinian society continues to suffer psychologically from the wounds of defeat in 1948 and 1967. Moreover, religious education continues to present Islam and Judaism as irreconcilable, while Holocaust education advocates are marginalized in Palestinian society, even suffering threats and attacks.

Despite these obstacles, experience has shown that taking active measures to overcome them can change minds about the Holocaust. For example, when Palestinian students were taken on a series of visits to Auschwitz and Buchenwald, they were moved by what they saw and gained empathy for victims and the horror of their experience. They also learned that one can appreciate different tragedies in their own context, and that comparing the Holocaust with the Nakba is a mistake because they are fundamentally different experiences. Educating Palestinians about the Holocaust helps them respect historical truth, understand the need to avoid repeating such tragedies, and fight anti-Semitism.

To further advance Holocaust awareness and impede the spread of extremism, Arab countries should include mandatory courses on Holocaust education and invest in museums to enlighten the public about genocide and mass atrocity. For their part, civil society organizations should organize activities that connect people from diverse backgrounds to fight anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. Likewise, the religious establishment needs to improve religious literacy and awareness on this issue.

Lastly, given that the Holocaust remains a taboo topic for many Palestinians, it is important to present students with well-researched literature and contextualize the event within the larger history of genocide. This historical contextualization makes it easier for Palestinian youths to break the taboo and discuss the topic. Palestinians need to internalize the notion that empathizing with victims of genocide—including Jews, who were the principal victims of the Holocaust—does not mean sacrificing their pursuit of justice for their own cause.

Ali al-Nuaimi, Zeina Barakat, El Mehdi Boudra: "Teaching the Holocaust in the Arab World", Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Policy Analysis, PolicyWatch 3469, Apr 12, 2021

These examples should be seen in the international context of a general lack of that topic. It is not unique to Palestinians, or 'Arabs':

How the World Teaches the Holocaust - or Ignores It Research comparing high school textbooks in 139 countries and territories shows that just 57 countries describe Holocaust directly.

Indian school history textbooks don’t use the word “holocaust” while teaching world history and the second World War. In one instance, where a government-prescribed textbook was published during the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) previous reign at the centre, even the details of the genocide are completely glossed over.

In surveying five prescribed textbooks in India, the study found that none of them makes a mention of the term “holocaust” or its Hebrew equivalent “shoah.”

Similiar descriptions of World War Two and its outcomes in Chinese textbooks are described in relation to happenings in China, the report said. Chinese textbooks refer to the holocaust as genocide and then compare it to the Japanese invasion of China in 1937. The texts treat the massacre of Chinese civilians by Japanese troops in Nanjing with more historical significance than the holocaust.

Textbooks in Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bhutan all make only oblique references to the holocaust, with the attention on this period in world history falling on the events of the war. School books in Nepal completely ignore the holocaust.

— Nayantara Narayanan: "How India and China explain the Holocaust to school kids", Teaching History, Feb 05, 2015.

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    I got the impression that choosing the accepted answer on this site is almost always politically biased (which is not that surprising since this is politics SE). As your answer is far better and more accurate than the other one. Commented May 22, 2021 at 18:35
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    "Chinese textbooks refer to the holocaust as genocide and then compare it to the Japanese invasion of China in 1937." To be fair, that's not exactly a false equivalence - the Japanese did some really messed up stuff in WW2, and the Chinese were some of the primary victims of it.
    – nick012000
    Commented May 23, 2021 at 9:50
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    It's actually pretty common to teach only history that is relevant for the given country. For example, in my country we have not studied American Civil War or the Japanese invasion to China. We study that they happened but no details about them. I would guess that most people in China and India don't even know what "Jew" means.
    – Sulthan
    Commented May 23, 2021 at 16:32
  • @polfosol "...is far better and more accurate than the other one." Who knows. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. There is something to be said about being concise. This answer for example could highlight relevant sections from the quotes. Commented Oct 7, 2022 at 16:28
  • @Sulthan "I would guess that most people in China and India don't even know what "Jew" means." Who knows. Maybe they know, maybe they don't. But actually everyone in the world should learn about global history of humankind. Teaching only history that is "relevant" by some definition of relevance where things like World War II and what happened during it are left out, might be a big omission. Commented Oct 7, 2022 at 16:30

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