On the last day of our seminar at the Ghetto Fighter’s House Museum, our students spent the day at the Center for Humanistic Education (CHE), which is located just next to the main museum. CHE hosts groups of school aged youths from all over Israel to learn about human rights and realistic application. They have many workshops designed to teach students about different forms of oppressive governments and genocide prevention.
Our students’ host took them through one of these workshops. They discussed different currents of theory based on Holocaust education. The students split into five groups, and each group was given a quote from leading Holocaust scholars about the value of Holocaust education. Some scholars claim that the Holocaust is unique, there was a certain set of preconditions that made the Holocaust possible. Other scholars affirm that genocide is universal, and so the Holocaust offers general education about genocide to some extent, and through studying the Holocaust genocide can be prevented. Another scholar claimed there is actually no worth in studying the Holocaust, because, as an affected society, Jews should forget the Holocaust and move forward with future-oriented thinking. Our students defended each of these theories, and then they had to pick which theory they most identified with. Discussing these theories reminded our students why they are studying the Holocaust.
Another workshop that CHE leads students through is called Brain Land. In this workshop, students create a government based on the ideology that people with a high IQ are high class and the governing one, while people with a low IQ are the lower class. The students work together to create a government based on this ideology. The students find that it is easy to create laws that oppress the lower class group. After this exercise they talk about how the Holocaust is universal, hate is hate, and ideology based on hate is dangerous.
Noha Khatib, Deputy Director of CHE, discussed with our students how Arab and Jewish students study the Holocaust both differently and similarly. Many students compare the Holocaust to the Nakba, which in Arabic this means “Great Catastrophe.” The Nakba occurred in 1948 when the Palestinians lost the War of Independance. Most people who study the Holocaust compare their own feelings of loss and hurt with what the Jews went through during the Holocaust, at least to their own extent. If the Holocaust can be considered universal, and the ideology of hate is universal, then these comparisons come naturally and they can be used to further Holocaust education. At CHE, Arabs and Jews can come to the same room and discuss difficult conflicts. Four graduates of this program, aged 17, came to speak with our students – two Arabs and two Jews. They candidly shared their experiences and explained education at CHE.
We would like to thank the Ghetto Fighters’ House Museum and Kibbutz for hosting us and offering valuable Holocaust education knowledge and methodologies.
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