Comment: Teaching the Holocaust

There have been rumours (officially denied) about the incorporation of the Holocaust into Maldivian school curricula. This rumour, in and of itself, led many to protest and speak out.

Why is it, some ask, that such decisions are made in secret, without any consultation with the people? It would be ironic for those who claim to be pioneers of democracy in this tiny island nation. However, since this has been denied as a rumour, another question remains: were these protesters’ concerns well-founded?

An issue that evokes more like-minded concern and skepticism is the involvement of the State of Israel in all of this. What interest do they have in teaching us the Holocaust?

Some supporters of the religious right-wing, the Adhaalath Party, which has been proclaimed by some as an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood movement of Egypt, have equated the decision to teaching children Jewish theology. Although not quite accurate, they aren’t too far away from the point.

I personally do not know what the State of Israel has to gain from teaching the Holocaust to schoolchildren who’ve never been to and possibly never will visit Israel.

The second World War saw Nazi Germany implement the systematic elimination of gypsies, Poles, Slavs, Jews, Roman Catholics, homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses from all the regions it controlled.

They did so by setting up concentration camps to which people would be transported, en masse, either to be executed in the gas ovens, or to be worked to death.

This is what would come to be known as the Holocaust. The Holocaust is a sensitive issue and it something held dear to Jewry.

The historian Tony Judd; himself Jewish; remarked that the modern Jew often had two points in space and time to define their identities. In space, they would have Israel: a ‘safe haven’ to escape to in case of persecution. In time: the Holocaust, regardless of whether or not they had ever been to Auschwitz, let alone survived or descended from those who had survived.

It is therefore no surprise that the Holocaust and its gravity would be built up in the mind of the Jew to near-mythical proportions.

In the middle of the century, there turned up a viewpoint that the Holocaust itself was “unique”. That never in human history had anything so terrible as the Holocaust had occured. This view is often accepted, espcially by the media, as uncontested; and most public gentiles who reference the Holocaust often add in a little remark (“the terrible nightmare that was the Holocaust”, etc.).

The validity of this view is very much in question. And it is not the sort of question, in the words of the politicial scientist Norman Finkelstein, one would even consider. How could one objectively compare the suffering of a child at Auschwitz with the suffering of a child during the My Lai massacre? It’s not possible, nor should it sit well with one’s moral sensibilities.

The Israeli documentarian Yoav Shamir explored the Holocaust in the mind of the modern Jew in his film Defamation. In one scene, in which he had followed the president of the Anti-Defamation League, Abraham “Abe” Foxman, to the Ukraine: we have a short scene in which he’s lecturing an Ukrainian official regarding the uniqueness of the Holocaust. It seems that the Ukrainian president made a remark about a certain famine being “our Holocaust”, and this caused Abe Foxman (and much of the Jewish community by extension?) much pain and distress.

The Holocaust seems to have an almost divine status for the secular Jew; it defines him, and to deny the Holocaust would be to spurn the Jew. Such was the fate of the British historian David Irving, a Holocaust-denier whose freedom to speak was abruptly interrupted when he was jailed for a year after he’d written literature questioning the facts regarding the Holocaust. He was charged for promoting racial hatred.

The jump between questioning the facts of the Holocaust and a seething hate of people of Jewish descent is a big one. One that would require some preparation and emotional baggage. If Mr Irving were a frothing, bald, nose-ringed sociopath marching down the street waving a Nazi flag, I wouldn’t have bothered. But he’s not, he’s a historian who, despite the invalidity of his claims, has more of a right to question the Holocaust than a layman such as Abe Foxman.

But this was a gentile court that sentenced Mr Irving. What gives? Though the German government hopes to make amends and to this day continues to pay an annual sum of money to Holocaust survivors around the world, I cannot see the reason why the rest of the world are so sympathetic to the Jewish plight. Specifically, sympathetic to the suffering of the Jews while completely ignorant of or apathetic towards the Rwandan genocide, Chechnya, the Srebrenica massacre, and even the atrocities committed by Israel.

The Israeli journalist Uri Avenery claimed that for the most successful ethnic minority in the world: their constant demonising of individuals as anti-Semites is shameful.

The mainstream media are adamant that any criticism of Israel is tantamount to anti-Semitism. Any questioning of the facts of the Holocaust is tantamount to anti-Semitism. It is true that there have been many arguments made by the Israeli propaganda machine that Hamas’ rocket fire and terrorist acts keep continuing to this day because “those Arabs” just can’t stand to live side by side with “peace-loving Jewish neighbours”.

Any opposing views are, obviously, from Nazi-lovin’ anti-Semites.

Could the jump from questioning the facts of the Holocaust to racial hatred have come from a gentile fear of being seen as anti-Semites? Nazis in disguise? I have no real answer for this.

So the Holocaust has become, as the Adhaalath Party writer has said, part of Hebrew theology. It defines the secular Jew, and he loves the Holocaust with a love that seems almost religious. One could incur the wrath of Jewry by mocking the Holocaust, yet can go unscathed by blaspheming Moses (peace be upon him), the Torah, or even God.

In my personal opinion, Maldivian schoolchildren have some idea about the Holocaust, it’s nothing new to them. In fact, the Holocaust is probably taught to a great depth in secondary school arts streams. So teaching it isn’t entirely a problem per se.

But to teach the Holocaust yet to ignore the suffering of the Palestinians at the hands of the Israelis each and every day is inhumane. The Holocaust has been a tool for the Zionist war machine to humiliate and torture a population of one million people for forty years. The Holocaust was always invoked in their justifications for the massacres. Anti-Semitism and Nazism, along with that.

Yet, though the Warsaw Ghetto is no longer standing; we have the West Bank Barrier, and we have Gaza. I have no shame in comparing the treatment of the Palestinian Arabs to the Nazi treatment of Jews in Europe because I do not believe that the Holocaust was unique. It was a great tragedy, but it was not unique. The State of Israel is proof enough.

All comment pieces are the sole view of the author and do not reflect the editorial policy of Minivan News. If you would like to write an opinion piece, please send proposals to [email protected]


42 thoughts on “Comment: Teaching the Holocaust”

  1. Please do not teach anything factual to the Maldivians. Stick to whims and wet dreams of the ignorant-villages in the deserts of Arabia. And even that, make sure it is in a language that is not understood by most, so that the population is forever kept in the dark, and never understands reality. That has proven to be the easiest way to control and manage them.

  2. for once somebody wrote a good article in Minivan! Has somebody replaced Minivan's editor or something? 🙂

  3. Maldivian children must be kept totally ignorant of one of the biggest and most atrocious crimes against humanity in recent history. Instead they must be brain washed with cooked up versions of the history of Middle East -a history that portrays terrorists as victims; a history that grants full ownership rights to Arab hordes who invaded the territory in 637 AD; a history that denies the right of existence to Jews who have lived there since 1300 BC.

  4. Refreshing. The emotive finish at the end connects well to the relatively apolitical modern intellectual.

    However, we have seen how far up the war machine's posterior our country has been driven.

    Dr. Shaheed has managed across two administrations to secure a vital post in the American war machine. His work as the SR on the HR situation in Iran will secure him much success, fame, power, money and of course derision.

    The problem is, his eventual justification of the war on Iran might probably put our country in danger. God help us all if this man's selfish lust for success drives our people into oblivion faster than one can say "climate change".

  5. Good to see non Zionist view points from Minivannews.

    Holocaust was definitely a tragedy as was the Rwandan genocide, Cambodian genocide, Bosnian genocide and etc.

    Learning just about what the Jews went thru in Nazi Germany will not help students. We have to teach about all genocides. And also what has happened in our own history, in regard to what Ibrahim Nasir did in Thinadhoo. Compared to our population that too was a genocide.

    Good article.

  6. This is nothing new. Back in '80s when we were in school Holocaust was taught as part of Modern History, so was the Israel / Palestine conflict, the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia etc. So what's the big deal? We did not go on supporting Israel - for all what it is doing!!! Why are we so afraid to learn about the facts?

  7. I am a Maldivian and I don’t care too s#$*s about Jews and Palestinians.
    Our brethrens are suffering in our atolls and in the Islands. Why not worry about our own people?
    A bunch of Mullahs formed Adhaalath party to rule us and spread their version of Islam “WAHABISAM”.
    I believe that average Dhivehin make fun of those mullah and their preaching’s.

  8. A couple of points I can agree on, many I disagree with.

    1) I agree that too many people consider the criticism of Israel as anti-Semitism. It isn't. There are many valid criticisms of Israel that have nothing to do with their state religion.

    But this is politics. It is the same formula that is used by Islamist politicians like the Adhaalath party, the mere criticism of which is tantamount to blasphemy to its foot-soldiers. (I speak from personal experience!)

    2) No. The extermination of nearly 2/3rds of all Jews in a systematic, state-sponsored genocide IS pretty unique.

    One cannot objectively compare the suffering of a child in the Mai-Lai massacre with that of a Jewish or Arab child, because suffering is universal and not quantifiable.

    But when it comes to the Jewish people - who have, to be fair, been persecuted as a group from the beginning of the Christian era right down to even today in several parts of the world, including the West - it is also a matter of their identity.

    Yes, the Jews are very successful - indeed, the most successful and accomplished minority in the world. But still, they're a very tiny minority who cannot afford to have another holocaust if they value such a thing as self-preservation.

    There's a reason why it is said, those who forget history are doomed to repeat them.

    But when the Maldives - as the article rightly points out, which have hardly anything to do with Israel or that region of the world - have people like BA Naseem and Illiyaas and Fareed spewing utter, hateful, anti-Semitic diatribes ("Jews are evil! It says so in the Qur'an!") then there is a very good, justified reason why our children should learn facts from history.

    Because, Nazism and Islamism, when you think about it, aren't all that different.

  9. It is actually an important point.
    Why do we seem to know more about the plight and suffering of the Jews more than the plight of any other people? Is it because their suffering was far worse, or because they are the most powerful lobby group and ethnic force? Why is that?

  10. @Yaamyn just answered many of my questions, but, I am interested to know about who the Jews are, why they were so powerful before the holocaust, from a deeper point of view, historically.

  11. Reading the comments, I find it mildly amusing that when I brought up a similar argument about a week ago, that the Palestinian crisis is hardly the world's greatest or only tragedy - I got called a Zionist by Minivan News commentators for it.


    Apparently, Palestine is special to Muslims.. but the Holocaust? Routine stuff.

  12. Did that yaameen f##ker equate islam with nazi? What a piece of s##t!
    I demand minivan news to remove it now!

  13. @ yaamyn

    "Apparently, Palestine is special to Muslims.. but the Holocaust? Routine stuff."

    Yaamyn, you will never understand. Never.

  14. pleeease teach some sense,manners&general knowledge to these ignorants at schools!!

  15. theres nothing wrong with teaching about the holocaust or about the rwandan war....BUT There is a BIG problem if this is done; through a secret agreement between the state israel and MDP government.

  16. From what a professor in a British University explained to my class on the issue of the Holocaust - is that there is not enough concrete evidence that the said number of deaths actually happened as supposedly explained in Western and Jewish history textbooks. Also if research on the issue is done, this seems to be true.. yet we have some western governments arresting people for just questioning the Holocaust. Where is the freedom to question history?

  17. School is a place of learning hence there is no sense in not allowing for holocaust to be the history accurate? well who can vouch otherwise as history is always written by the victors!
    the article is well written and one of the most refreshing pieces seen on minivan recently.
    instead of being anti-semitic, we shud all be concerned about the hatred our very own mullahs are spreading in the country calling for things like locking up ur women in safes to protect them.....
    Pls people dont be blind.

  18. "Rooster:

    Yaamyn, you will never understand. Never."

    By 'understand', if you mean 'agree'.. yes. I probably won't.

    I tend to demand reasons for accepting things, not gang logic.

  19. "me"

    Islamism. Not Islam.

    Try to spend an additional 5 seconds reading, before hitting your "outrage" button.

    Islam :-

    Islamism :

    Take a deep breath now. Relax.

  20. Palestine is 'special' for the Maldivians simply because Arabs have somehow fooled us into believing that their struggle is 'ours.' Interestingly enough, when it comes to migrating to an Arab country and acquiring citizenship, we soon learn that their lands are not 'ours.' Compare this with the ease of acquiring UK citizenship.

  21. The plight of the Jews in history is tragic, much publicized through the Semitic religions, and there successful and power lobby. Throughout hostory there are as tragic if not worse cases like the Russian gulags and the story of the Gypsies who even perished in greater numbers in WWII concentration camps. Even take a look and the first event where the term Holocaust was used when first christian migrants to Yemen fleeing the prosecution by the Romans Levant, were rounded up and burned alive by Jews.

    Why the over emphesis on the "Jewish Holocaust"? should it be even called the Jewish Holocaust because other groups did perish in the same concentration camps.

  22. @yaamyn

    "I tend to demand reasons for accepting things, not gang logic."

    That's a bit rich coming from someone who writes some of the most illogical pieces of rubbish about his own distorted view of the world!

    The holocaust is a tragic event in history. It cannot be denied and it needs to be taught to every human being as a pertinent reminder of human cruelty.

    Some other poster asked about the reasons for Jews being "special". To the present day Ashkenazi jews are well known for having a much higher than average I.Q. No one knows exactly the reason/s for this and several theories exist. A very popular theory is that Ashkenazi were engaged in higher level activities such as commerce and trade (and not in subsistence activities) for a long time in history.

    The famed jewish merchants and traders are all Ashkenazi. In contrast, the Asian or Oriental jew doesn't possess the same I.Q. level. There's quite a lot of evidence about the history of these people having being engaged in what we'd today call "white collar" jobs for many centuries.

    As natural selection favours the strong and weeds out the week, episodes like the holocaust were used to change the course of nature.

  23. No need to teach Holocaust in schools...if anybody wants to learn abt it, let em read it up..wikipedia or whatever....The school curriculums already teach a lot of useless stuff...Who cares about the holocust..Just because jews are rich we should not be forced to learn about thier history and founding of israel...For me Holocaust is just an episode of the second world war..more people were killed in the war than the what about the slow "Holocaust" agaisnt the palestinains by the Israel...the Jews are abusing the Holocaust for their own ends and to enslave others.

  24. @ Ahmed Bin Addu Bin Suvadheeb:

    What a load of crap.

    And this IQ thing? Seriously?

  25. Suvadheeb, You're probably thinking of Eugenics.

    Natural Selection works on the survival of the fittest, not necessarily the strongest or meanest. This is in fact, a common misconception.(Doesn't necessarily disprove your point though, if there was one)

    There's no saying if it tomorrow an earthworm might not be more fit to survive than humans.

    My 'distorted' view makes a lot of sense to me, thank you. I get that a lot from you guys, just wish someone would come up and actually point out these 'distorted' bits, instead of just throwing assertions like 'Palestine is the worst crime! Billions of Palestinians are being killed! You just don't understand!" (I'm actually quoting)

  26. Yaamyn dear boy, its hard to accept your views as academic for these reasons;

    1) Social science, foreign policy and world history is not your field of study.

    2) Your income is mostly based on contributions by the current ruling party and by extension Israel's government and political lobby in America. Therefore intentionally or not, your views will reflect a bias towards theirs.

    3) You suffer from a simple case of self-loathing, insecurity and identification with a powerful other. Its sad actually. A lot of young Maldivians display these traits. This mental defect is what led us to our situation today. We are ashamed of our nationality and cultural identity and therefore wish to be associated with foreign others. Thereby weakening our country and our productivity.

  27. @ yaamyn

    "I tend to demand reasons for accepting things, not gang logic."

    There is nothing wrong with demanding reasons for accepting things. The reasons are there. But for a person who is determined to not see these reasons, there won't be any.

    We live in a world where things are not just black and white. There is a fuzziness; there is a grey area. The fuzziness and the grey connects people. They bond people. One example of such a bonding is seen in spirituality; it is seen in religion.

    Palestine may be thousands of miles away from us. But they are (mostly) Muslims. So they are 'connected' to us more than the Jews. The Jews, too, are connected to us, Mulims as we are all 'People of the Book.' But if the Muslims are our real brothers and sisters, the Jews are our cousins.

    We will be troubled more if our brothers and sisters are suffering than if our cousins are suffering.

    So while many (probably most) Muslims can empathise with the Jews and 'feel the pain' of the holocaust, they will consider the pain of the Palestinian suffering a bigger pain. This is assuming the two are equal. But if you really analyse them, you will soon realise that they are not even equal.

    I said you will 'never understand' because, I have seen enough of your comments here that convince me you have made up your mind about the Palestinian sufferings and nothing can rattle that. 🙂

    I was tempted to write the above because you've said "... You just don’t understand!” (I’m actually quoting)". And it was me who wrote the 'you dont understand' bit.

  28. I would like to congratulate Abdulla Adam for the well researched article, and the fact that it was unbiased is something to commend him. personally i don't see anything wrong with learning new things, it truly makes us better human beings

  29. not being able to influence the situation of Palestine we shall actually support the assertion that holocaust is myth! Its actually a bit bigger than that; lots of ppl died in that episode of world history. But lots of Germans were also bombed to their fate in their home. The Dresden massacre is a good point to search. As for the gas chambers the doubts raised by Irving seem very logical. So to bring about positive change in Middle East, to help the oppressed we shall actually put more effort to promote the suffering of the weaker side, not the stronger side. Let's put a few more essays about Palestinian Naqba in place of the holocaust-myth?

  30. "tsk tsk",

    I assume, based on that comment, that psychology is not your field of study.

    An A+ for effort, but once again you have utterly failed to rise above crude personal insinuations and ad hominem attacks.

    I write in my identity, and blog openly because I have the intellectual honesty to make a stand.

    I invited the previous guy to call my 'distorted' to point out the distorted bits - which shouldn't have been hard to do.

    Your approach thus far is to somehow try and 'discredit' me with your inventive tales, all the while hiding behind a cowardly anonymous identity.

    You have also made some bold, authoritative assertions in your last comment, that is symptomatic of the potty level of debate you're apparently used to.

    I would ask for an apology, but it's rather pointless coming from an anonymous shill account on the Internet, isn't it?

    Anyways, you're wrong.

    I have no allegiances to any political party, simply because - as I have publicly stated before - there simply isn't any Maldivian politician who publicly supports things like universal human rights.

    Also, I make a decent living without having to shill for political parties, thank you very much.

  31. Rooster,

    Let me get this out of the way right now that I actually quite agree that Palestinians have a just cause, and that Israel's hardline policies are complete wrong and abhorrent. I've condemned them before, and I'll be glad to do it again, for your pleasure.

    I also understand that being a Muslim, you'd have a natural bias towards the Palestinian side even more. That's human nature.

    What I do not understand - and this is what the article that kicked this debate off was trying to do - was understand why you do not feel this outrage for, say Kashmiris (who are mostly Muslims, incidentally).

    In fact, that section was called 'selective outrage' - because you see, neutral statistics show that Kashmiris are at least as much affected. (It is, in fact, greater in terms of dead, displaced and time period of conflict)

    And yet you do not feel outrage.

    I have my theories regarding this - mostly about effectiveness of media.

    That's how I remember ending the article - about how genuine humanitarian concern would extend to all humans (or in your case, ALL Muslims)

    I can understand having personal reasons to identify more with one cause then another, but when a political party threatens protests and disruption over ties with ONE country that "oppresses Muslims" while having no qualms about having close relationships with another country that "oppresses Muslims" even more... then something is wrong with the picture.

    I'm not sure why that is so hard to get.

  32. lets not respond to this self publicist yaameen. He is just seeking attention by writing all those nonsense.

  33. "me",

    Yes. That sounds like the appropriate response when your "argument" doesn't have legs to stand on.

  34. Yaamyn is jewish....Holocaust blah blah blah.....who cares...verbal diarrhea, utterly useless..makes a boring read.

  35. "The extermination of nearly 2/3rds of all Jews in a systematic, state-sponsored genocide IS pretty unique"

    Yes unique in the sense for the first time the victims were of Western European origin.

    The Congo Free State, had a population of 30 million and was reduced to 8.5 million within 20 years, during King Leopolds' "ownership". The population was "saved" by the Belgian Parliament intervening and annexing the country in 1908, which put to a stop to the genocide. The Force Publique of King Leopold had to ensure rubber quotas were met by slave labourers. If quotas weren't met they were to kill the person and bring a severed hand to provide proof that bullets weren't wasted. The hand thus became proof of labour for the soldiers, millions of hands were amputated, just to satisfy their European masters.

    If hypothetically the Congolese had risen from their desperate circumstances like the Jews have, we would have a different outlook toward Belgium and their King Leopold. The Belgian city of Antwerp, (Old Dutch for "hand throw") and its "hand" symbol would mean a lot more to everybody than just a folklore.

    This does not negate the Jewish holocaust in any way, as Prof. Finkelstein himself said, "the holocaust can stand on its own", we can still discuss Palestinian suffering, it does not have to be "worse".

    Adalath's and J. Salaf's opposition to Israel is hypocritical because they use the Palestinian suffering to promote intolerance. If the Palestinians were being occupied and oppressed by another ethnic group, such as another Arab country we would not see this outrage. Much like the lack of Islamic outrage over Chechnya or the world outrage over Congo Free State.

    The identity of the victims and the perpetuators always matter. History will always be written by victors. Germany could not complain and classify carpet bombing of German cities in WWII as a crime. If the allies lost the war the atomic bombing of Japanese cities maybe described as the biggest war crimes ever perpetuated.

  36. peasant,

    Good argument.

    I'm also aware the Mongol campaigns did some large scale violence, reducing entire populations.

    But in my mind, the fact that a democratically elected government (the Nazis) that could use modern channels of propaganda to spread anti-Semitic propaganda on a national level - and then systematically ghettoize and murder an entire race for no other reason than they were jews (i'm ignoring for the moment the gays, gypsies and others) strikes as particularly concerning.

    I've seen echoes of that kind of thinking in India, when the radical right wing Hindu parties came to power - the extreme rhetoric against Muslims, the propaganda questioning their patriotism, the colouring of all 140 million or so of them as some kind of alien tribe living in the country.. and sadly, it was quite successful in achieving what it set out to do. As Gujarat proved. Nobody faced justice.

    This was also done against Christians in some parts.

    Many ordinary, middle class, urban educated Hindus were openly anti-Islamic in that polarized period. I've actually had episodes where just finding an apartment was hard because they'd tell me (to my face) that since I'm a Muslim I could be a terrorist.

    What struck me most on listening to the likes of Illiyaas and Fareed is that they're using almost exactly the same words as the radicals in India (who're thankfully out of power now)

    I know it's a tiny difference. But I feel it's something very relevant to the times we live in - to remember that things like genocide are allowed to happen even in "decent, modern" societies just because we allow fanatic radicals to thrive in our midst.

  37. Yaamyn; you are a tyrant, who wants to take away our freedom of religion to remain Muslim; and supports the jewish GENOCIDE of our Palestinian brothers. Why do you talk of universal human rights, when you are guilty of crimes against humanity? What practical value is there in teaching Maldivians about the horrors of the holocause? There are no Jews here that we could discriminate against anyway; so, what lessons of history are you talking about?

  38. @Yaamyn,

    I lived in India for 7 years. They (Indians including Hindus, Muslims & Sikhs & Christians) are the best people (friendly, hospitable and definitely intelligent). I never felt 'outsider' there.

    As for Gujarat episode - it started with Muslims burning two bogey of train carrying innocent people including small children - a fact.

    As for Kashmir - what about Kashmiri Hindus exodus from J&K? Why didn't Muslims protect them when they were being killed. And pl dont forget the Muslim (Pak) hand behind this.

  39. Zeenat,

    True. I love India and its people and the sheer energy and vibrancy of the place.

    The overwhelming majority of the people I've known there are extremely tolerant and accommodating.

    But just as with anywhere else, there are the occasional bigots. The rampant polarization of society under BJP/RSS stewardship was one of the saddest things I've seen.

    My point is simply that, even the best of societies is vulnerable to things like anti-Semitism / genocide / ghettoisation.

    It'd be easy to relegate things like the holocaust to history (it was "just an episode of the WWII", according to someone above), and forget the ideology and widespread propaganda that led up to it.

  40. thank you Abdulla Adam, for an extremely different fresh view! i appreciate that there are people out there who think and not just follow...


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