Galilee int'l conference examines Holocaust studies

Holocaust educators stressed the importance of speaking about the Shoah as a means of ensuring that such a tragedy never happens again.

October 10, 2012 21:57
2 minute read.
Jewish man in front of swastika at Shoah memorial

Jewish man in front of swastika 370. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Holocaust educators stressed the importance of speaking about the Shoah as a means of ensuring that such a tragedy never happens again, at an international conference on Holocaust education that kicked off Tuesday morning at the Western Galilee’s Ghetto Fighters House Museum.

“Remembering the Holocaust imposes on us a greater duty than ever before for moral awareness, precisely because we know of the potential existence of radical evil in every human society,” said Raya Kalisman, director of the Center for Humanistic Education, quoting historian Saul Friedlander.

She explained that the phrase effectively summed up the mission of her center, which initiated the three-day forum and has been functioning within the museum for 18 years.

The conference, entitled “Holocaust Education for Democratic Values,” aims at opening a discussion on how to teach the topic to students, but also on the links between Holocaust education and democratic education.

Among the subjects that came up at the event were the use of analogies in teaching the Holocaust and the use of Holocaust imagery in visual arts.

Participants were Israeli scholars and education professionals, as well as academics from various foreign countries.

“Democracy is what can protect us from such tragedies,” emphasized Kalisman.

“Learning about it awakens us to the other’s needs. Ignoring the other’s suffering is in fact the greatest danger to society.”

“It will always be important to speak about the Holocaust,” said Paul Salmons, head of the Holocaust Education Development program at the University of London’s Institute of Education.

“The issues that the Holocaust raises are very present and relevant in the lives of young people in the United Kingdom,” he added, explaining that his program aims to guide teachers across the UK on the topic.

Dr. Martin Salm, chairman of the Remembrance, Responsibility and Future foundation in Berlin, which funded the conference, said, “We believe it’s necessary that the young generation maintains awareness about the Holocaust, but we also believe that it’s got to be taught in a way that something that happened 60-70 years ago still touches them.”

His foundation’s mandate, he said, was “to transmit lessons learned from that particular history to the youngsters.”

The museum’s director, Dr. Anat Livne, released a statement saying that the conference’s goal was “to shed some light on the education system in dealing with one of the most important aspects of our complex society.”

“We believe that understanding the connection between the study of the Holocaust and education for democracy can strengthen values that contribute to the existence of a good and just society,” she said.

The summit, which is open to the public, ends on Thursday afternoon.

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