Sunday, January 06, 2008

Dutch "educators" use "Islamophobia" to teach Muslim students about Holocaust

Cnaan Liphshiz and Ruthie Pliskin

Yes, aside from those six million dead on one side, and a number of terror attacks and supremacist declarations on the other, they're just alike, aren't they?

"For Dutch educators, Islamophobia can be a teaching aid for Holocaust studies," The Yad Vashem Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority this week hosts a week-long seminar for 21 teachers, the first run by the museum for Dutch educators, with one day devoted to discussions about teaching Holland's Muslim minority about the Shoah.
When teaching Holocaust studies to Dutch Muslim teenagers in Amsterdam, Mustafa Daher says he first has to defuse his pupils' own hostility toward Jews and Israel.

"If I don't capture their interest, then I have done nothing. So I use the rising Islamophobia to help them connect to the persecution of the Jews," the seasoned educator says.

"For example, I tell them that when the Nazis suspected someone was Jewish, they would pull down his pants to see if he was circumcised. Then I remind my Muslim students they are also 'snipped.' So they, too, would've ended up in a concentration camp," says Daher.

Judith Whitlau, who teaches groups about the Holocaust at the Dutch Theater in Amsterdam, says she has to contend with another analogy.

"Some point to media reports from the occupied territories, and they want to know what exactly Israel itself is doing to internalize the Holocaust's lessons as it preaches others should do."

But not all the teachers in the group have Muslim students. Franca Verheijen teaches at an affluent school in Leiden, some 35 minutes by train from Amsterdam. There, drawing parallels between Islamophobia and anti-Semitism can be counterproductive.

"If I make this connection, some students usually reject the analogy, saying that unlike the Muslims, the Jews never engaged in terrorism," she says.

Uh, yeah.

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