Abraham Accords the turning point for Arabic Holocaust education - opinion

Where Facebook and Twitter fell short, the leaders of Bahrain, UAE, and Morocco and Israel have stepped up.

THE HALL of Names at the Yad Vashem World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem, April 20, 2020. (photo credit: RONEN ZVULUN/REUTERS)
THE HALL of Names at the Yad Vashem World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem, April 20, 2020.
(photo credit: RONEN ZVULUN/REUTERS)
Since the Abraham Accords were first announced with the United Arab Emirates last year, Israel has been enjoying somewhat of a honeymoon period with multiple Arab states. The ramifications of this are tremendous and span nearly every facet of society – from political to business to tourism to person-to-person relations. In contrast with the peace Israel has with Jordan and Egypt, the newly developed peace with Sudan, Morocco, Bahrain, and UAE is proving to be popular on the ground, which is providing an opportunity to educate about antisemitism and to find common ground in the battle against all forms of bigotry.
Holocaust denial and revisionism is a problem that continues to plague the Arab world, in particular on social media. Videos in Arabic denying the Holocaust garner hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube, even though many are removed after. While Holocaust denial has (only recently in some cases) been banned from virtually every social media platform, the problem is ongoing, and it's even more extreme in Arabic. References praising Hitler are commonplace on Twitter and in comment sections, in particular where there is content about Israelis and Palestinians.
Rhetoric that would never be tolerated in the West, or at best would be condemned and dismissed as fringe and antisemitic, is sometimes lumped in with mainstream opinion in Arabic discourse. Even major networks such as Al Jazeera, while denouncing the Holocaust in English, have published content fueling Holocaust revisionism in Arabic. Similarly, world leaders who call into question the accuracy of the Holocaust are not publicly disgraced for such radicalism, but embraced. For example, Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, wrote his thesis on questioning the Holocaust. While social media networks have failed spectacularly to rein in this trend for years, someone else has stepped up to begin changing the narrative: the brave leaders who implemented the Abraham Accords.
Not only did Bahrain, Morocco, and the UAE sign on to the Abraham Accords, normalizing relations with the Jewish state, Bahrain also explicitly signed a memorandum of understanding about educating against antisemitism, and recognizing the IHRA definition of antisemitism. The unique and widely accepted IHRA definition recognizes that modern antisemitism is often manifested as anti-Zionism. In January, Morocco also signed a similar MOU pledging to combat “all forms” of antisemitism today. Two weeks ago, Morocco additionally announced they would incorporate Jewish history and education in their school system, signing a similar MOU. Immediately following the signing of the Abraham Accords, the UAE began implementing educational materials in schools, praising the peace treaty.
This is how future generations are changed and taught to support peace.
THE RESULTS are already showing. On International Holocaust Memorial Day this past January 27, we saw an inspiring example of such action. Despite yet another coronavirus lockdown in Israel, Israeli organization Israel-is, and the Arab Israeli NGO Together Vouch for Each Other made history by putting together a Holocaust Memorial event on Zoom for the first time in Arabic, which included participants from Morocco, Bahrain, UAE and Israel. The event, hosted by Israeli-Arab activist Yoseph Haddad, featured remarks from Natan Sharansky, Israeli Ambassador to the UAE Eitan Na’eh, and testimony from the daughter of a Holocaust survivor – for the very first time in Arabic. Also in attendance were high-profile figures such as IDF spokesman in Arabic Avichay Adraee, YouTuber Hananya Naftali, and Consul General in Dubai, Ilan Stolman.
Participants shared their knowledge and understanding of the Holocaust, and were visibly moved by the testimony in an event that would have been almost unimaginable prior to the Abraham Accords. Who would have thought that such figures, not just peace activists but mainstream Israeli leaders, would be taking part in a joint Israeli – Emirati Holocaust Memorial Event in Arabic in 2021?
Where Facebook and Twitter fell short, the leaders of Bahrain, UAE, and Morocco and Israel have stepped up. By demonstrating the desire for a genuine warm peace, they’ve paved the path for people-to-people peace between Israelis and the Arab world. Through educational events and cooperation such as that demonstrated on International Holocaust Memorial Day, the future is looking bright for the fight against Holocaust denial and antisemitism in Arabic too.
The writer is the CEO of Social Lite Creative LLC and a research fellow at the Tel Aviv Institute.