“The first Arab museum of the Holocaust,” as it is touted, somewhat tentatively in the Israeli press, is in fact a hopeful shot in the dark fired off by a single man: the Israeli-Arab attorney Khaled Mahmid, 43, whose education at Hebrew University opened his eyes to the horrors of the Holocaust in a way an Arabic education in Israel did not. Mahmid has spent 20,000 shekels (about $5,000) of his own money to turn a section of his flourishing Nazareth offices into The Arab Institute for The Holocaust Research and Education.
Pointing out that the Israeli ministry of education has never printed more than “a half-page” on the Holocaust in Arabic, Mahmid has produced an entire pamphlet and a Web site (alkaritha.org) to instruct and educate the Palestinian people, and perhaps the Arab world, about the tragedy of the Jews.
Its perspective is uncommon for most Holocaust memorials and museums, arguing — in Mahmid’s words — that “the Palestinian people paid the price for the Jewish Holocaust in that they became the refugees and remained without a country. The fact that Jews were murdered in Germany led to Palestinians not having a state.”
It may be the most explicitly political of all Holocaust museums. Mahmid hopes the place will help Israeli Jews and Arabs understand each others’ variously intertwined torments and afflictions. It will “hopefully lead toward a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and an end to discriminatory policies towards Arab citizens and the acceptance that they deserve equal rights,” Mahmid has told Israeli media.
“Israel was established on the ashes of the Holocaust,” he said in a press conference last month. “This is how Jews around the world see Israel… understanding the fact that personal security is perhaps the major concern of Jews in Israel and elsewhere, as a direct outcome of the Holocaust and the feelings of persecution, is extremely important.”