Robert Satloff, the executive director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, writes in to tell me that UNRWA's promise to teach the Holocaust in its Gaza schools masks a deeper problem:
I read the full interview with UNRWA's John Ging and was less impressed. While it is very much welcome that UNRWA would decide to include reference to the Holocaust in a UN-sponsored human rights curriculum to explain the origins and continued relevance of the UN Declaration on Human Rights, which was itself born out of the Holocaust, this shouldn't be news. Ging is an international civil servant and we should expect this modicum of decency and common sense from people in his position. It would be different if Ging's position were advanced by a Palestinian leader in Gaza, given how out of step that brave soul would be with local sensibilities, but Ging should not be judged - praised -- in comparison to that standard.
In fact, if you read Ging's interview to the very end, you will see something that is newsworthy: Ging's chilling view of what constitutes a "stain on human history." He told his interviewer that the new curriculum would also include "tangible examples" of other "blights and stains in human history" -- "We want to succeed with the active support of the civilian population who want their children to be part of the civilised world and who have no interest in challenging globally accepted facts; no more than ... they start challenging whether the earth goes round the sun, or Hiroshima or Nagasaki, or the killing fields of Cambodia, or the ethnic cleansing of the Balkans, or the genocide in Rwanda, or apartheid in South Africa; or, for that matter, the Nakba." Hm... really?
As your readers well know, in November 1947, the United Nations voted to partition Palestine; partition was accepted by the Zionists and rejected by the Palestinians and the Arab states. In May 1949, the UN General Assembly determined that the new State of Israel was "a peace-loving state" and admitted Israel to the United Nations. Whatever tragedies befell Palestinians during the eighteen months that separated these two events, and no impartial observer can contest that tragedies occurred, it takes a remarkable degree of historical revisionism for a United Nations official to include the creation of Israel -- for that is what the Nakba represents --on a list of "blights and stains on human history." That is -- or at least it should be -- newsworthy.
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is the editor in chief of The Atlantic
and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. He is the author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror