Jewish, Arab and Druze national service volunteers are expected to attend a joint, multicultural ceremony in Yad Vashem on Monday to commemorate the Jewish victims of the Holocaust.
National-civic service is Israel's alternative voluntary for those who do not serve in the Israel Defense Forces, being mainly Religious Zionists and Arab Israelis.
The event is organized by Bar-Ilan University UNESCO chairwoman Prof. Zehavit Gross, who acts as the Higher Education Council's representative in the National Service Council. Participants, including National-Civic Service Authority director Reuven Pisnki, the director's adviser Einat Dermer, Yad VaShem and youth movement representatives, will focus on rescue during World War II.
According to the organizers, the topic was chosen due to its human, universal nature that ignores racial, ethnic, religious, gender or class differences.
The event's goal, they say, is to create solidarity among all groups within Israeli society, using the memory of the Holocaust as a link to create empathy and tolerance and draw attention to human rights.
Despite the World Holocaust Forum, Gross says that the memory of the Holocaust has been fading in recent years, especially among the younger generation. She says that today's youth find it difficult to connect to the Holocaust because they lack basic knowledge about it.
Gross claims that the memory of the Holocaust awaits a dramatic shift, as the last survivors that made it their life's mission to preserve its memory will soon disappear. She also claims that the Holocaust became politicized and is being exploited by "very specific" parts of Israeli society.
The International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust, January 27, was designated by the United Nations General Assembly in 2005 on the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi concentration and death camp, making it a day of international solidarity with the collective trauma suffered by the Jewish people during the Holocaust.
According to Gross, the national service period serves as a unique opportunity to tackle that issue and educate oneself about human suffering and human rights.
Jewish and Arab volunteers from the Federation of Young Students and Workers, also known as the Working and Studying Youth, as well as the Religious Zionist Ariel and Ezra movements, Bnei Akiva and the Druze Youth Movement are expected to participate in the event.
She said that organizing a joint event for Jewish, Arab and Druze Israelis is a first step toward creating social and civic resilience, and strengthening Israeli democracy.