Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council

A Saudi scholar reveals what Arabs learn about the Holocaust

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Mansour Al-Hadj, a Saudi journalist, reveals in an article (Oct. 24) on the reformist website 'Aafaq', the dark truth about the teaching of the Holocaust in the Saudi education system, which is being projected around the world through Saudi institutions abroad. Al-Hadj writes about the distorted representation of the Holocaust he was exposed to in Saudi Arabia, especially due to the school curricula which failed to present this event as an atrocity, or even as a crime. Instead, according to his experiences, it encouraged eternal enmity against the Jews and other non-Muslims, sympathy towards Hitler's plan and taught that Muslims were destined to carry out a similar program of extermination of Jews in future.
Al-Hadj underwent an eye-opening experience when he visited the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.; he writes about the illuminating experience, and the gaps between the new found lessons he learnt and the indoctrination in the Saudi education system and institutions:

"As a child in the Saudi Arab kingdom, I often heard about the Holocaust that befell the Jews at the hands of the Nazi regime in Germany during World War II. However, most of what I heard was that the Jews exaggerated the number of victims, that they used the Holocaust to arouse the world's pity, and that they indisputably deserved their fate. I never learned that the Holocaust was among the most atrocious crimes in human history, and I did not read that persecuting [the Jews] based on their religion is considered religious discrimination. I did not feel any empathy toward the victims of the Holocaust, despite the atrocious things that happened to them, only because they were Jews. [I knew] they were prophet-killers whom Allah had cursed ... and that we are destined to kill them in the battle to come ... The well-known cleric and head of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, Yousef Al-Qaradhawi, referred to this [final battle] when he praised what Hitler did to the Jews and described it as 'divine punishment.' He stressed that the Muslims would [ultimately] do to the Jews exactly what Hitler did, saying: 'Allah willing, the next time [this happens, it] will be at the hand of the believers.'

"As I grew up my feelings didn't change much: [I felt] indifference, played down the horror of the events, and believed that the Jews had gotten what they deserved for their corruption and arrogance. [This continued] until I visited the Holocaust museum in the American capital of Washington, and had the honor of meeting one of [the senior museum staff], who took me on a tour of the museum and gave me detailed explanations about the Holocaust. [Then] for the first time I realized my deep ignorance regarding the horror of the Holocaust and what happened to the Jews, who were ordinary citizens with equal rights, living normal lives, until the Nazis came to power.

"[Our attitude] can be explained by the fact that the authors of the Saudi curricula intentionally neglected [to teach us] that Hitler's incineration of the Jews is considered a crime... It can also be explained by the fact that Saudi Arabia repeatedly refuses the demand of the American State Department to include the Holocaust in its curricula, which continues to incite to violence and hatred against non-Muslims in general and the Jews in particular. [For example,] the 12th grade textbook Studies on the Islamic World (2006-2007 edition) emphasizes that the conflict between the Jews and the Muslims is inevitable and insoluble. The book reads: 'Whoever studies the nature of the conflict between the Muslims and the Jews understands an important fact: this is a religious conflict, not a dispute about politics, or nationality, or a conflict between races or tribes, or a fight over land or country, as some describe it. This is a deeply rooted enmity, a conflict between truth and falsehood, between monotheism and polytheism, between heresy and faith. The enmity between us and the Jews will under no circumstances cease until one of two things [happens]: either they join our religion and become Muslims, or we abandon our religion, God forbid... Once we realize the essence of this conflict, and that this enmity cannot cease, we understand how much those who say the conflict can be settled are misleading [us]. (p. 91)'"

"This is part of what I learned and what is learned by all Muslims who come to Saudi Arabia from around the world. And what is more, the kingdom also exports these ideas throughout the globe, exploiting its status as a religious center and the home of the Two Holy Places [Mecca and Medina], as well as its great material capabilities and the ignorance of the Muslim peoples. It builds schools, providing them with its own curricula and teachers, and grants scholarships to thousands of Muslim [youths] to study shari'a and Islamic studies - but not other subjects - at Saudi universities; and when they return to their home countries, it employs them at the Saudi Islamic organizations there...

"[My guide] explained that the Nazi party wanted to overcome the Germans' sense of frustration over their defeat in World War I, and to restore them to splendor and power; to this end it launched propaganda in favor of the racial purity of the Aryan race and expelling all other races.

"What amazed me more than anything is that German society became so hostile to the Jews, with people informing on their Jewish neighbors, just three years after the Nazis rose to power."

"The Germans' ingenuity and their precision in labor, documentation, and classification helped preserve all the atrocious deeds the Nazi regime committed. I was amazed when I saw the mechanisms devised especially to record the number, class, dimensions, weight, age, and illnesses of the Jews. I was also amazed to learn that the regime forced the Jews to put special signs on their arms and chests to distinguish them from their fellowman, and that they cast them into special neighborhoods. In one picture, I noticed that the ghetto to which the Jews were transferred was located on the road leading into town, with passersby [able to] see the Jews day in and day out in this miserable condition. Immediately, I recalled that the second Caliph, 'Omar bin Al-Khattab, also forced the Jews to wear particular garb in order to distinguish them from the Muslims.

"At the end of the tour, I saw pictures and names of European heroes who risked their lives in order to save the lives of Jews, sheltering them in their homes and providing them with food and clothing.

"From my visit to the museum, I learned that what happened to the Jews was a human tragedy in the full sense of the word, and that it is a grave mistake to deny it, to downplay its horror, or to justify it, and that all people must work together so that it will never happen again to any nation in the world. We are all, human beings, and we bear a responsibility to teach our children about the Holocaust, as well as other crimes of extermination that are a dishonor to the human race. We have to encourage our children to work for a better future in which tolerance, mutual understanding, and respect will prevail among all human beings, regardless of race, color, religion, or belief."

Or Avi-Guy

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