Hamas and Fatah have vowed to stymie an attempt to include the Holocaust in textbooks used by UNRWA run schools. Hamas spokesman have said these textbooks, to be used in West Bank and Gaza schools, “challenge the feelings of the Palestinians.” These claims represent two poignant aspects of the Arab-Israeli culture clash: (1) some parts of the Palestinian leadership have claimed sole ownership of suffering and (2) Palestinian leadership considers its “feelings” with higher regard than facts.
Ownership of Suffering
Hamas and Fatah leaders have done nothing but twist sociological jargon to support institutionalized racism. They purport that teaching holocaust studies in the West Bank and Gaza will inculcate Palestinian youth with occupation as normative order; however, the reality is that by acting as the sole heirs to world injustice, Palestinian leaders are able to continue a campaign of Jewish dehumanization. Palestinian leadership know that teaching its youth that Jews also experience suffering, shows Palestinian youth that Jews are equally as human as themselves. This realization would unravel the foundation of extremist political theology.
Additionally, Hamas leaders know that teaching the holocaust would bring to light historical facts which would force them to abandon a policy of refusing to accept responsibility for actions. Most upsetting for Palestinian leadership would be the realization that former Islamic leadership in the region, in the form of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Muhammad Amin al-Husayni, was extremely supportive of Nazi Germany and the Holocaust. This fact strikes at the base of the Palestinian argument that they are being punished for the sins of Germans, when they were in reality not only complicit, but supportive of Nazi Germany and the Holocaust.
Feelings and Facts
Secondly, Palestinian leadership insists that teaching the Holocaust in Palestinian schools “challenges the feelings of the Palestinians.” As a people accepting the role of victims, they have doubly accepted the role of being morally perfect. How can a people at the receiving end of international aggressors be morally imperfect? Instead, the feelings of the Palestinians should be challenged, which would in turn reject the presumption of moral perfection. Their feelings should be strained by the realization that Jews too suffer. The fact of the Holocaust should be considered by the Palestinians as more important than the positive feelings gained from denying Jewish humanity.
Palestinian refusal to teach the Holocaust in its schools is a form of institutionalized racism and achieves nothing but the continued dehumanization of the Jewish people. Palestinian leadership fears that by their youth seeing the Jews as fellow members of humanity, they might grow up gaining a friend rather than an enemy.