Gov’t signs Holocaust education agreement with Myanmar, accused of ethnic cleansing

The agreement covers educational cooperation from the preschool level all the way to university.

May 30, 2018 14:43
2 minute read.
Handshake (illustrative)

Handshake (illustrative). (photo credit: ING IMAGE/ASAP)


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The government signed an agreement with Myanmar on Tuesday, the same day that the US said ethnic cleansing of the country’s Rohingya Muslim minority has not stopped.

The agreement involves cooperation in the area of education from preschool through the university level, and includes material on the Holocaust.

“The parties shall cooperate to develop programs for the teaching of the Holocaust and its lessons of the negative consequences of intolerance, racism, antisemitism and xenophobia, as a part of the school curriculum in the Republic of the Union of Myanmar,” a sub-article of the agreement reads.

Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely posted on Twitter a photo of herself smiling with Myanmar’s ambassador to Israel, U Maung Maung Lynn.

Also this week, a representative from Myanmar participated in the Science and Technology Ministry’s conference on science policy, which featured science ministers from more than 20 countries.

In Washington, Sam Brownback, US ambassador at large for international religious freedom, called for the government in Myanmar to end its attacks on the Rohingya Muslim minority.

“I believe it is ethnic cleansing of a religious minority that is taking place,” Brownback said, in releasing the US State Department’s 2017 International Religious Freedom Report.

The report estimated that 680,000 Rohingya fled from Myanmar to Bangladesh due to violence.

Separately, fighting between the military and the mostly Christian ethnic minority Kachin since April has displaced more than 5,000 villagers, according to the United Nations.

The Kachin Independence Army, one of Myanmar’s most powerful ethnic minority insurgent forces, has regularly clashed with government troops in the mountainous region bordering China and India since 2011, when a 17-year-old cease-fire broke down.

Hotovely’s office declined to comment on the timing of the agreement, but she shared a response from Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nachshon on Twitter: “Like the rest of the world, Israel has diplomatic relations with Myanmar, which are expressed in a number of areas, including culture, agriculture and education. Israel does not sell weapons to Myanmar. We should celebrate the signing of an agreement with this country in the area of education.”

Joint List MK Ahmad Tibi came out against the agreement, saying “This is an immoral agreement that encourages war crimes and those committing genocide against the Muslims in Myanmar.

“It is not surprising, because Israel is a partner for the darkest regimes and provides weapons mostly to dictatorships,” Tibi said. “An agreement on shared values in the fight against racism and teaching the lessons of the Holocaust to Myanmar? That is a joke.”

Reuters contributed to this report.

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