‘Never again’ in Hebrew and Arabic as Gulf states mark Holocaust Memorial Day
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‘Never again’ in Hebrew and Arabic as Gulf states mark Holocaust Memorial Day

In wake of Abraham Accords, Auschwitz survivor Vera Kriegel gave testimony to young people from the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco, and Saudi Arabia, who recently visited Yad Vashem

Stephen is the Jewish News' Foreign Editor

Pictures from Sharaka Delegation visit to Yad Vashem, December 13, 2020:
Pictures from Sharaka Delegation visit to Yad Vashem, December 13, 2020:

International Holocaust Remembrance Day was commemorated together by young Israeli, Gulf and Arab leaders this week in the Middle East’s first such event.

Jewish Auschwitz survivor Vera Kriegel spoke of her experience at the hands of Nazi doctor Josef Mengele to participants from the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco, and Saudi Arabia, following their visit to Yad Vashem last month.

The online event, organised by The Gulf-Israel Centre for Social Entrepreneurship (Sharaka), was addressed by Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, who said it was “very moving” to see young people of all religions from across the region working together.

“We are bringing together Holocaust survivors with young Israeli and Gulf leaders, Jews, Muslims, Christians, and Druze, to say ‘never again’,” he said.

“This pandemic has closed borders and distanced us but it has also reminded us of our shared humanity and the need to work together… Unfortunately, coronavirus has given rise to more antisemitic conspiracy theories and we have continued to see attacks against synagogues and Jewish institutions.”

Pictures from Sharaka Delegation visit to Yad Vashem, December 13, 2020:

More than 100 participants from across the world sent excited messages to each other throughout the Zoom call, for instance telling each other how to write ‘never again’ in Hebrew and Arabic.

Sharaka used the opportunity to push an action plan that included “promoting” the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, which includes several working examples relating to Israel, as well as “countering” the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

Pushing back tears, Kriegel told the young Arab leaders: “I’m so overjoyed, so happy, so moved, so everything, and I embrace all of you, I am so happy that you want to know everything from the past. It’s so very important.”

Beginning with the Arab greeting ‘Salaam Alaikum’ she said: “I was a guinea pig for the Satanic Dr Mengele. My self-esteem, my pride, my identity, all was taken away from me. I became a total nothing. I became a number, tattooed on my arm – A26946. This was my identity.”

Pictures from Sharaka Delegation visit to Yad Vashem, December 13, 2020:

Amjad Taha, co-founder of Sharaka,  told Vera she had a new home in Bahrain “and in the heart of every peace lover”.

He suggested that countries including his own, UAE and Bahrain include the Nazi persecution of the Jews in the school curriculum. “From a young age to graduation they should be taught about the Holocaust and ways to counter antisemitism.”

Majid Al-Sarrah from the UAE said: “We live together, we stand together, and together we will build a world free of antisemitism and hate.” Mashael Al-Shemeri from Bahrain said: “I would like to say to all Jews and the people of Israel – you are not alone anymore.”

Najat Al-Saeed from Saudi Arabia said: “We must educate young generations about the full horrors of the Holocaust, including by ensuring that the Holocaust is taught in schools in the Abraham Accords countries, and special envoys are appointed for preserving Holocaust remembrance.”

Pictures from Sharaka Delegation visit to Yad Vashem, December 13, 2020:

 

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