The day in which Jews all over Israel stand in a moment of silence in honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day always raises certain questions within the Israeli Arab population, mainly about their positions on the Holocaust and the Jewish history their children study in the Arab sector's schools.
Chairman of the Arab sector's education follow-up committee, Nabiya Abu-Salah, claims that Arab students should study the Holocaust, but at the same time he expects the Jewish education system to devote teaching time to the Nakba (the expulsion of the Palestinian refugees from their land during the War of Independence).
"There must be symmetry. Just as the Palestinians living in Israel need to study the Holocaust, Jewish youths should learn that a nation that was living here was exiled from its land," he said.
Arab students begin to study World War II and the persecution of the Jews in elementary school. "In my long-standing experience as a teacher and principal, I truly believe the Holocaust should be studied. We learn to correct our mistakes in a more humane manner from history, and without knowing the history of the people you are living with it is more difficult to understand them," Abu-Salah added.
In his opinion, Arab students express solidarity with the Jewish people upon learning about the Holocaust, but also feel that it opens their own wounds. He claims they feel that the Jews are encouraged to express their pain openly, while Arab youths are not allowed to express their feelings for their own people.
Visits to uprooted villages?
Abu-Salah claimed that the education system has also attempted to hide from Arab Israeli youths their Palestinian roots.
When asked whether he would respond positively to Arab students visiting the concentration camps in Poland, Abu-Salah answered that he would not approve of this, unless visits to villages that were uprooted during the war were also organized.
Regarding the fact that Arab students were not required to stand during the two minute siren for a moment of silence, Abu-Salah said: "These were not our people, but students still discuss the Holocaust in class.
The siren (marking the beginning of Holocaust Remembrance Day) is an embarrassing and confusing subject. It is exactly like listening to a crowd in a soccer stadium and not knowing what to do. If we were living in an equal society it would be a lot easier to respect it."