Nearly 200 decision makers in the field of education, officially representing
some 40 countries, took part in the Seventh International Conference on
Holocaust Education and Remembrance, held Saturday and Sunday at Yad Vashem in
The conference focused on new challenges facing educators who
teach about the Holocaust.
One such challenge is the growing tendency to
link Holocaust commemoration with criticism of Israel – aptly illustrated when a
Turkish delegation cancelled its participation following the IDF’s recent raid
on the Gaza-bound flotilla.RELATED:Israeli envoys slam German pols for joining flotillaNation slows down to commemorate Shoah victims
Held by the International School for
Holocaust Studies at Yad Vashem, the event was attended by philosophers,
historians, human rights activists, educators, politicians, ambassadors and
directors of government ministries. They attended lectures and participated in
discussion groups focusing on questions such as how to grapple with Holocaust
denial, how to avoid “competitions” between the suffering experienced under
different totalitarian regimes, and how to keep from falling into a pattern of
referring to the Jewish people as victims.
Among the speakers were
Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar, Prof. Alain Finkielkraut, former chief rabbi
Yisrael Meir Lau, former Polish president Aleksander Kwasniewski and former
Croatian president Stjepan Mesic.
Recommendations that emerged from the
discussions will be presented on Monday to representatives of the Task Force for
International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research (ITF)
at its four-day conference taking place in Jerusalem.
“The event marks an
exceptional accomplishment of years of collaboration, to create a group
professionals dedicated to the theme from 40 states, who came despite
to partake in a journey of thought and finding solutions in the face of a
changing reality,” Yad Vashem chairman Avner Shalev told The Jerusalem
Sunday, referring to the weekend gathering.
“Trends of Holocaust
trivialization and building new narratives pose a new situation and new
that educators must face,” he said, noting such issues as the tendency
the Holocaust with other European tragedies, and problems teaching the
Muslims, some of whom object, due to their antagonism toward the State
“It is important to open new questions and think systematically,”
Regarding the cancellation by the Turkish delegation, he
expressed sorrow over enmeshing a political dispute with a broader
issue that is important to the entire world, and called it “very
the Turkish delegation could not separate the two.
“You can criticize or
even [defy] Israeli policies, but dealing with Holocaust education is
Israeli or even Jewish issue, rather one for the entire world and part
European discourse that Turkey is trying to become part of,” Shalev
“The great state of Turkey will have to show its intent to continue
its dialogue with the entire world, and not just Islam. I hope they will
reconsider and come to realize that these are universal questions we are
with. Maybe we’ll still see Turkish educational groups.”