The majority of Arab schools do not commemorate Holocaust Remembrance Day and the number of students taking part in any commemorative activities is minute, a Knesset report has found.
The data suggests that in 2008, only 1,595 students of the 134,672 taking part Holocaust commemorative activities were Arabs, and only 150 took part in the annual mission to Poland.
Holocaust teaching has been a controversial issue in the Israeli education system for years, with the main question being how to expose the student to information: through history lessons, ceremonies, tours, overseas mission etc. The methods used today calls for gradual exposure to the subject, especially when explaining it to the younger student body.
The Education Ministry has ordered mandatory 30 annual hours for Holocaust studies, but while Jewish schools start thoroughly exploring the subject from the sixth grade and on, sixth grade history lessons in the Arab sector focus on Arab heritage and history. Holocaust studies are given about 27 annual hours in ninth grade, but it is detached form the wider historical connotation of pre-WWII Nazism and the war's immediate implications. Grades 10-12 see just seven annual hours of Holocaust studies.
Ahmed Badran, the Education Ministry's Arab school supervisor in northern Israel, said that in general, Arab schools do not mark Holocaust Remembrance Day and that the matter is left to the teacher's discretion.
Dorit Novak, director of the International School for Holocaust Studies at Yad Vashem: "Arab students encounter additional difficulties when approaching the subject, since many of them are lacking in its fundamentals. That's compounded by mixed emotions and feelings of alienation towards Israeli society."
Yad Vashem, she said, tries to help them overcome the problem by treating the Holocaust as a universal event first, and a Jewish calamity next.
Assam Javara, the Education Ministry's Youth and Society Department's Arab sector inspector, added that the fact that only few Arab students take part in Yad Vashem events also stems from the geographical distance between northern Arab communities and the Holocaust Museum; but they do, he stressed, take part in local activities held in the north.