Nadia Murad cuts a diminutive figure as she sits in Yad Vashem's International School for Holocaust Studies, telling her personal story of survival after being captured and tortured at the hands of ISIS. With quiet dignity, she recounts what happened to her and other fellow Yazidis, thousands of whom were slaughtered, buried in mass graves, captured, tortured, raped and sold into slavery by ISIS fighters. Today, the remaining Yazidis are dispersed across the globe, prevented from returning to their home regions that remain politically and militarily unstable. Murad, the recently appointed UN Goodwill Ambassador who has become the most widely recognized survivor of the Yazidi atrocities, is currently visiting Israel for the first time to raise awareness of the plight of her people. Brought to Israel as part of an IsraAID delegation, she and Haider Elias, President of the "Yazda" Organization, came to Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem, to tell a small group of assembled Yad Vashem senior staff their moving story, and in turn to learn from Yad Vashem's expertise in commemorating the events and victims of the Shoah.
"It is extremely meaningful for us that you are here at Yad Vashem today, to listen to your story and offer our support. We look forward to continue to assist you in your quest to meaningfully commemorate your people's tragedy." explains Dr. Eyal Kaminka, Lily Safra Chair for Holocaust Education and Director of the International School for Holocaust Studies, to the delegation. Murad mentions that she only learned about the Holocaust and subsequently about Yad Vashem since escaping captivity and fleeing to Germany. On becoming familiar with Yad Vashem's unrivalled expertise in commemorating the largest genocide in history, she quickly understood the importance of visiting Israel and touring the Jewish people's memorial to the Holocaust, in an effort to learn more about the important work that is done here. Elias and other members of Yazda - - for which Murad now serves as a figurehead - outline the various initiatives that they are undertaking. These range from legal advocacy to prosecute those who carried out the massacre of their people, to aid and assistance of the thousands of Yazidi refugees, whether in camps across Europe or starting out anew in further-flung locales such as Australia and Canada. Murad herself has been accepted onto a refugee program in Germany. It is clear from listening to her delegation that the future remains uncertain, and that there is much work to be done for them in order to forge a path onwards.
From Yad Vashem, the Yazdi guests were seeking direction in terms of documenting and commemorating their own ongoing tragedy, as well as raising awareness of it across the world. In the meeting, various methods of preserving and disseminating testimony were discussed by the Yad Vashem experts, including the International School's "Witnesses In Education" film series. Several copies of these unique testimony-teaching tools, translated into languages where Yazidi refugees are currently residing, were presented to the guests. Staff members assured the visitors that there is much to be learned from Yad Vashem's resources in terms of passing the history down the generations, and offer mentoring and support. Touring the Holocaust History Museum, Murad tells of being struck by the many parallels between the Shoah and what befell her people. It remains impossible to compare a very recent mass murder part of a conflict that still rages - to the immense and paradigmatic Holocaust. However, for Murad and her delegation, following a long and meaningful day at Yad Vashem, the importance of the words "Never Again" rings more true than ever before.