About a month ago, a Palestinian professor named Mohammed S. Dajani took 27 students to visit the site of the Auschwitz concentration camp. It was part of a broader cross-religious empathy program organized in Germany; when word of the trip reached the press, it was received critically by groups including Hamas and Dajani's own Al-Quds University, which declared it "a private, unauthorized initiative." Today, one of the students who made the visit wrote about her experience in The Atlantic.
I was born in Jerusalem in an Arab culture that, to put it mildly, ignores the Holocaust and avoids discussing it. As a young girl, I had to overcome social and educational restrictions to learn more about these closed chapters of history. Not only were books on the subject unavailable, but we were told that our responsibility as Palestinians was to memorize only what teachers told us, so as to reinforce our collective memory of loss and grievance and support our national identity and quest for a homeland.
Click through for the full essay—worth reading for the author's account of the way the Holocaust fits (and doesn't fit) into Palestinians' sense of national history.
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