Last April, I covered the shocking story (How is Our Holocaust Different from All Other Holocausts) of the Israeli docent fired by Yad Vashem for telling a group of visiting settler school children that the Nakba is similar to the Holocaust. That didn’t go over well either with the audience or the administrators of the museum, who disingenuously claimed that the Museum does not mix history with politics. The docent was unceremoniously canned.
A few days ago a friend of Itamar Shapira, the fired docent, published a comment here and I suggested that he contact me so I can offer his guiding services to any of my readers who might be on their way to Israel or the Occupied Territories.
Here is what Itamar wrote to me about his approach:
I…heard that you…published my story of being sacked [from] my job as a guide [at the] Yad Vashem museum and appreciate your will to promote these critical thoughts of our way of remembering the Holocaust.
As a guide in Yad VaShem I was of course mostly guiding about the Shoa itself, but I saw it as a must to make my audience think in a critical way about the whole process…; and look for activism [and] thoughts within ourselves concerning the world we live in now-a-days. I believe that the commemoration of the Holocaust should be [expanded] to activism against racism, war, national-self-pity, discrimination and so on. In order to do so, I think we can use the memory of the Holocaust to help us understand the Palestinian trauma, our connection to it as Israelis, and [to] create a way of reconciliation between the peoples.
Today I guide privately in Yad Vahem, and give tours as a tour guide in Israel in general, and in Jerusalem particularly; Jewish settlements, “the separation wall” east-Jerusalem and normal tourism as well.
I recommend Itamar’s services and he can be reached via e mail or phone 054-8087440.
I think people should know the meaning of words they are using. Holocaust (with capital letter) is commonly used to describe the result of Nazi genocide of Jews. With all due respect to Palestinian Arabs, it must be stressed that their story is not a story of Holocaust, for never in their 60+ history have they faced a genocide. Instead, their population rose from 1.5 million in late 1940s to 5 million in 2009 in Israel and Palestinian territories only (in other words, in the “occupied” territories). So emotions aside, Nakba is not Holocaust, it is a great Palestinian trauma, which is historically and statistically a non-issue in comparison with most other conflicts of the 20th century (take as an example the human catastrophe in the wake of partition of India and creation of a Muslim state of Pakistan that took place in the same years as creation of the Jewish state of Israel).
Richard Silverstein says
When 1 million people lose their land, their property, & some their lives & are expelled in the greatest injustice committed in the history of 20th cent. Israel & you say it’s a historical & statistical “non-issue?” Why when there is human suffering do people always attempt to say one tragedy is monumental but another doesn’t count? Why do you or anyone else do that? Would you say that if you were Palestinian? No, of course you wouldn’t.