Teaching Atrocities of the Nazi Holocaust in Schools; Is UAE Setting a New Precedent for the Arabian Peninsula?



The extreme right-wingers historically blamed Jews for Germany’s defeat in the First World War. As capitalist exploiters who made money off the backs of others, they also charged the Jews with this. At the same time, Jews were also charged with being communists who sought to overthrow the current order through a revolution. But nearly six million European Jews were killed by the Nazis during the Second World War. Holocaust is the name given to this genocide. The phrase was occasionally used to refer to mass fatalities before the Second World War, but after 1945, it became almost exclusively associated with the Second World War genocide of European Jews. The Nazis' ability to completely eradicate the Jewish population was the root of the Holocaust. However, their desire for blood didn't just appear overnight. It is important to evaluate the antisemitic Nazi ideology in the broader context. Even well before the Nazies and their hate for anti-semitism, the radical right in the middle east preached their hostility toward anti-semitism. All over the Middle East, hatred for Jews and Zionists is widespread. Even in school textbooks, illustrations of Jews with monster-like qualities are not rare. Be it songs, books, or TV programs, Jews are often compared to pigs, donkeys, rats, cockroaches, vampires, and a host of other imaginary creatures.

But the times are changing. It is an era of peace and cooperation. It's a great omen that the United Arab Emirates is setting a precedent by being the torchbearers of this change toward the Semitic perceptions. The UAE is set to become the first Arab country to teach students in its schools about the atrocities of the Nazi Holocaust, a historic decision that has drawn praise from certain quarters and criticism from others. According to the UAE's embassy in America, Holocaust education would be included in the major and secondary school curricula. The Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education, which has offices in Tel Aviv and London, as well as Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial museum in Jerusalem, should be involved in the development of a new curriculum, according to the UAE.

The nation declares they will collaborate with Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial museum in Jerusalem, and the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education, situated in Tel Aviv and London, to create a new curriculum. In Arab countries, Holocaust education has mainly been omitted from government-mandated school curricula. However, the UAE has intensified its Holocaust education efforts ever since restoring relations with Israel in 2020 through a deal known as the Abraham Accords.

Teaching Nazi Holocaust in School

With his Israeli counterpart, UAE Overseas Minister Abdullah Bin Zayed traveled to Berlin's top Holocaust memorial in the late 2020s. The first Holocaust memorial display in the Arab world will open in Dubai in 2021, and the foreign minister paid a widely reported visit to Yad Vashem last year, where he laid a wreath. Ali Al Nuaimi, the chairman of the Federal National Council for the Emirate of Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, claimed that for far too long, Arab school curricula had ignored crucial components of Western history, including the Holocaust. He believed that Muslims should liberate themselves from the weight of history to advance toward the future.

It is unclear whether the UAE's transfer will affect all of the country's private colleges as well as the government-run ones. Governments in Arab nations have not generally included Holocaust teaching in their curricula, but the UAE has increased its attempts to do so ever since it repaired relations with Israel in 2020 through a deal known as the Abraham Accords.

Voices Against

On social media, Emiratis were silent about the Holocaust lesson plan, although Abdul Khaleq Abdulla, a well-known UAE critic, and political science professor, said it wasn't necessary. Despite the lack of national significance, educational value, or knowledge needed, there has been an ongoing discussion about including the Holocaust in the school curricula.

An additional element of difficulty is added by the nation's curriculum being written by an Israeli group. According to surveys, the general population in Arab countries that have normalized their relations with Israel differs from that of their governments in this regard. According to a survey done in July 2022 by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, more than 70 percent of people in Bahrain and the UAE had a negative attitude toward normalization.

Other Arab countries are likewise against the Abraham Accords. Only 7.5 percent of Arabs, according to an opinion poll conducted by the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies in Qatar and released last week, supported normalization, with 84 percent of respondents citing Israel as the greatest threat to the Arab region, followed by the United States and Iran, respectively.


Emirati public opinion may not fully agree, but the leadership has decided that this is the path they will follow. They believe they have more influence over Israel and Israeli action by maintaining these good ties. The coordination with an Israeli institution in a sensitive area like education may make some Emiratis uneasy because of the widespread support for the plight of the Palestinians.

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