Coming in on the heels of the recently opened Nazareth Holocaust museum, the yearly Israeli high school trips to Poland’s death camps will for the first time include Bedouin students.

Habil and Abir Abu Siam, rising ninth and 10th-grade students respectively, were happy to hear that next year they would be joining the first delegation of Bedouin students to visit the concentration camps in Poland.

“When I told them, they were excited, because it means traveling abroad,” said the girls’ father, Said Abu Siam. “But I think it’s truly important that they travel and see exactly what happened to the Jewish people during the Holocaust, that they know that this is what can happen to a minority facing an aggressive majority, and the world didn’t prevent it. It will also teach them that one must not silence a minority.”

Al-Najah principal Salem al-Krinawi said his community’s adoption of the idea reflects their ties to the state. “The Al-Krinawi and Abu Siam clans are known for being moderate, faithful to the state and living in close cooperation with Jewish society,” he said.

“It’s very important to me to bequeath to the students [an understanding of] what violence between ethnic groups and nations can bring about,” said Al-Krinawi. “Our students study it in history, but I want them to feel it.”

Al-Krinawi said the students learn they too could have been targeted. “The Holocaust shocked the world, and it could have happened anywhere,” he said. “When we study it, we emphasize that Hitler would not have stopped with the Jews, and would have eventually gotten to the Arabs as well.”

Eli Sheetrit, who heads the society and youth department in the Education Ministry’s southern district, said he was a little surprised by the extent to which school supervisors, principals, teachers and students in the Bedouin sector were open to the idea of traveling to Poland. Rahat Mayor Talal al-Krinawi even proposed contributing $200 per student from the municipal budget. The Education Ministry is to contribute an additional $400 per student.

I agree that it is vitally important for Arabs to learn about the Holocaust, which for better or worse forms a huge part of the identity of Jews and in particular Israelis, who built their nation in its wake.

And this article subtly raises some difficult topics: why are the Bedouin, who are for the most part thoroughly loyal citizens, marginalized? The radicalization of younger Bedouin is a problem Israel is largely creating by itself, and while sending Bedouin students to Poland is a good idea, the more effective way to stem growing discontentment among Bedouin is to stop treating them as second-class citizens.

Obviously, the Bedouin are working towards understanding us. We should work a little harder towards understanding them.

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michael

12 Comments

  • Seems like a waste of money to me. I can understand sending over kids whose grandparents may have been involved or who might marry people who had family over there and were affected by the Holocaust. But instead of sending Bedouins to Poland, spend the money on improving their standard of living.

    Or better yet, how about spending it on Jewish education?

  • The Bedouin were affected by the Holocaust. As was every Israeli Arab. Nothing bad can come of showing them how, and how the Holocaust helped create the Israeli identity. What’s wrong with a little understanding?

  • The Holocaust helped create Israel but is not the reason Israel was created. It merely reinforced what the Zionists had been saying all along, and drove a few hundred thousand Jews to move to Israel in those early years.

    Whenever Israelis or Jews point to the Holocaust as a reason that justifies Israel’s existence, I shudder in disbelief. The Palestinians and pro-Palestinians also shudder and usually say, “Why should Palestinians pay any price for what the Nazis and their helpers did in Europe?”

    The Holocaust is one small part of our history. While it is a defining moment in modern Jewish history because of the huge percentage of our population that was destroyed, it remains a small part of our history. The reason those Bedouin live in a Jewish state located in the Land of Israel has much more to do with the history of the Israelites and the Jewish people over the past two millenia. Instead of Auschwitz, they should take the Bedouin on field trips to Qumran, to the Israel Museum to see the Dead Sea Scrolls, to archaeological sites that reveal our history as a nation before the destruction of the Temple, and of course to Jerusalem for a non-Muslim tour.

    How about Birthright for Bedouins?

  • I can see themiddle man’s point. I would think
    touring through the Polish sites where many of our folk went Kidush Hashem could be a hard sell. The use of resources to shlep beduins for such a
    purpose is questionable in my view. I don’t know that much about beduin culture; I don’t see anything in thier mentality that would make me think they would especially appreciate such a trip; I could be wrong. I would think an understanding of the history and attitudes of how Beduins inter-relate to other arabs
    may make something like this more sensible…
    Maybe more Middle Eastern locations where many
    of our Mizrahi were kicked and beaten out of by
    other arabs would be more effective; who would
    have enough guts to do that these days? A tour
    through once great Jewish sectors of Bagdad,
    Yemen, Algeria, even Egypt. Perhaps a reminder of
    what the large arab countries lost and what they
    continue to lose by making Israel and Jews thier
    foes. I am looking at this issue rather simplistically; just a thought.

  • Obviously – none of you live in Israel. The Israel Poland trip for Israeli high school students is a discerning factor in the developing Jewish identity of the average secular Israeli student. A recent poll showed that over 70% of officers in the Israeli army had been to Poland on a high school trip and most secular Israeli students do not have any connection to Judaism prior to this trip. Israel can only gain by letting non-Jewish Israelis experience the Poland trip.

  • Gella Ka,

    I appreciate this bit of information:

    “A recent poll showed that over 70% of officers
    in the Israeli army had been to Poland on a high
    school trip”

    Then you say this:

    “most secular Israeli students do not have any
    connection to Judaism prior to this trip”

    The above statement is not clear to me. Who are
    these “secular students” and what to do you
    mean they ” do not have any connection to
    Judaism prior to this trip?”

    That then begs the question:

    How will such trips increase connections to
    Judiasm?

    Are you refering to Non Jewish People that go on
    such trips?

    Does such trips change that connection?

    Do people somehow become less secular?

    I am just asking….
    I am not making statements.

    You do go on to say,

    “Israel can only gain by letting non-Jewish
    Israelis experience the Poland trip.”

    That I would say is a fair opinion.
    I may disagree, but I don’t feel like making a big deal out of that. I am just trying to figure out what you just said.

  • I don’t understand the problem here.

    The Holocaust Museum in Washington DC has become a regular stop for school groups from across the country – it’s probably their bread and butter.

    This is the Israeli version of it – because everyone has been to Yad Vashem several times(sorry if that’s insensitive, but it’s a common school trip).

    Regarding the marginalization of the Beduin: yes, it’s a problem. But it’s a problem on both sides as many Beduin have resisted urbanization, which is key to integration with Israeli culture.

  • I would think that Beduin would resist urbanization by definition; that is obvious.

    I would concur with themiddle man on this one.
    That doesn’t mean anything about everything else he comes up with. I see certain areas of daat that he does every now and then.

  • Gee themiddle,

    Have you ever been wrong? Better yet, do you admit to ever being wrong? I would have to go through much jewlicious junk here to find such a confession; I don’t even know if such a reference exists.

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