Palestinians are up in arms over plans to teach the Holocaust in their schools in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
"Over our dead bodies." This has been the response of Hamas and Fatah officials to unconfirmed reports that the United Nations Relief and Works Agency [UNRWA] may include the Holocaust in the curriculum of schools that it operates in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The Palestinians have even warned UNRWA against committing the "crime" of including the Holocaust in the curriculum, threatening to foil the reported plan.
Many Arab governments have been teaching their constituents that the Holocaust is something that Jews made up to justify the creation of a homeland in Palestine.
They believe that the entire history of the Jews is one big "fabrication." Just recently, the Western-funded Palestinian Authority published a "study" that allegedly proves that the Western Wall has no religious significance to Jews.
According to the reports, the Holocaust would be taught to Palestinian children in the context of a lesson on human rights.
One can understand why Hamas would be opposed to such a move. But it is not clear why a Palestinian government that receives funding from the US and Europeans and that is formally involved in a peace process with Israel would be denying children the right to learn about the suffering of the other side.
"UNRWA should implement the curriculum of the host countries," said Ziad Thabet, Deputy Minister of Education for the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip. "We will prevent UNRWA from implementing any new curriculum without returning to the Ministry of Education."
Fatah representatives and media outlets have also come out against any attempt to educate young Palestinians about the Nazi crimes.
Fatah activist Salah al-Wadiyeh urged Palestinian leaders to "confront this plan and to stand united against it."
He said that teaching the Holocaust in Palestinian schools was a "Zionist plot aimed at brainwashing our children and instilling in them sympathy for their killers. They are trying to occupy our minds through this scheme."
Al-Wadiyeh said that the "Palestinians know, more than any other people, the history of their enemies and their lies and endless false claims."
The Palestinians are opposed to teaching the Holocaust in their schools because first, many believe it never took place, and second, they are afraid that it some young men and women might identify with the Jews' plight during World War II.
The Palestinians, like many other Arabs, have convinced themselves that the Holocaust is nothing but a "Zionist conspiracy" to justify the occupation of their lands.
Other Arab governments are prepared to admit that Jews were indeed slaughtered during the Holocaust, but that the figure six million has been exaggerated to win sympathy and "extort" Germany and other European countries into paying compensation.
Israeli newspapers often publish stories documenting Palestinian suffering and human rights violations both by by the IDF and settlers in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. But when was the last time anyone read an article in a Palestinian or Arab newspaper about the suffering on the other side?
Teaching the Holocaust to Palestinian children should be seen as a sign of strength, and not weakness. The Palestinians should learn from those Israelis who supported teaching the "nakba" [catastrophe – a reference to the establishment of Israel in 1948] and the poems of Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish in Israeli schools.
It now remains to be seen whether the UN agency will succumb to the Palestinian threats.