The main gate of the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland, with the inscription "Work Makes You Free." (Shutterstock) (Shutterstock)

“It is important for us to make the memory of the Holocaust accessible to Israeli-Arab society and the Arab world.”

By Aryeh Savir, TPS

The Arab-Israeli “Together Vouch for Each Other” organization has dispatched a delegation that will mark Yom HaShoah, in Auschwitz in a special ceremony in Arabic, the first of its kind.

The delegation left for Poland on Monday morning. On the eve of Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day on Wednesday night, the delegation will hold a ceremony at the Auschwitz extermination camp in Arabic, the first in history.

“It is important for us to make the memory of the Holocaust accessible to Israeli-Arab society and the Arab world,” the organization explained.

The delegation is comprised of Muslims, Christian Arabs, and Druze.

Over the weekend, the group went on a preparatory tour at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem, where they met Holocaust survivor Arie Shilansky, who will be one of the six to light a torch at the state’s official Holocaust Day ceremony. This encounter with a Holocaust survivor was for many of them the first such encounter in their lives.

During the coming week, the members of the delegation will learn about the Holocaust in Poland, meet with the Jewish community in Krakow, and hold a ceremony in Arabic on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day.

The members of the delegation will also deliver food parcels in Poland to refugees from Ukraine.

‘A Crime that Distorts History’

“Together – Vouch for Each Other,” was founded in 2018 by a group of young Israeli-Arabs – Christians, Muslims, Bedouin and Druze, who felt determined to bring about change in the Israeli-Arab sector and adopt a positive direction vis-à-vis Israeli society and the country.

Yoseph Haddad, CEO of the association, said that “it is important for us to make the memory of the Holocaust accessible to Israeli-Arab society and the Arab world, because every human being must know the most shocking event in human history and learn about it and from it, thus fighting despicable phenomena from Holocaust denial to any manifestation of racism.”

Haddad, a resident of Nazareth, is a disabled IDF veteran better known for battling BDS on American university campuses.

While the Arab world is notorious for its Holocaust denial, shifts on this issue can be seen in recent years.

In January 2021, in Bahrain, a first-of-its-kind event was held to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day, and for the first time, the Holocaust was commemorated in the Arab world.

In January 2020, Dr. Mohammed Al-Issa, Chairman of the Muslim World League in Saudi Arabia, led a delegation of Muslim clergy to Auschwitz-Birkenau, the first such visit ever. The clerics toured the camp, prayed in memory of the dead and participated in a Jewish ceremony for them.

Al-Issa has previously spoken out against Holocaust denial, saying it was “a crime that distorts history.”

In a letter sent to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in January 2018, al-Issa wrote that “history is indeed impartial no matter how hard forgers tried to tamper with or manipulate it.”

Holocaust denial, he said, was “an affront to us all since we share the same human soul and spiritual bonds.”

The first-ever Zikaron BaSalon Holocaust remembrance event for Arabs, in Arabic, was held in northern Israel in 2019. Zikaron BaSalon (literally, “Remembrance in the Living Room”) arranges for Holocaust survivors to remotely meet with people and groups.