24 January 2008
These and other data presented at Yad Vashem at an event today marking launch of the Arabic website on the Holocaust to www.yadvashem.org
Marking the launch of Yad Vashem’s Arabic website about the Holocaust, Yad Vashem commissioned a poll, examining the level of interest among Arabic speakers in Israel on the subject. The results of the survey were presented by Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev at an event marking the launch of the site today: more than two-thirds (some 70%) of the adult Arab population knew about the Holocaust; of them, some 60% had heard about it for the first time at school, and 27% through the media. Additionally, the survey revealed that 58% of the Israeli Arab sector believe that there is a need to teach about the Holocaust in school; this number rises among the younger population (under age 24) - 64% of this group would like to see the subject on the school curriculum. Of those who believed that the Holocaust should be taught in school, 40% reasoned “it is part of world history,” 30% believe “it touches the history of the people living beside us,” and 28% said “it has a valuable implication for every human being.”
The survey also disclosed that one out of every three Arabic speakers in Israel were interested in visiting a website with information about the Holocaust in Arabic - equaling 40% of all web-surfers in the Israeli Arab sector. (The survey was carried out by Smith Consulting on 15-16 January 2008 among 512 people representing the adult Israeli Arab population, with a 4.5% margin of error.)
“The relatively high percentage of Arabic speakers in Israel that has heard about the Holocaust, and the fact that 40% of them said they would visit a website with information about the Holocaust, reinforces the need to provide information on the subject in Arabic, in addition to increasing teaching about the Holocaust in schools. An encouraging finding from the survey is that the interest and willingness to learn more about the Holocaust is higher among younger adults in the Israeli Arab sector. The survey also revealed that in 89,000 Arab households there are potential surfers of the Yad Vashem website - this is an important audience that will join the millions of Arabic speakers around the world who will now be able to receive information on the Holocaust in their own language,” said Shalev.
Results of the survey were presented today at a special event at Yad Vashem marking the launch of the Arabic website. At the event, a special greeting (in Arabic) recorded by Prince El Hassan bin Talal of Jordan was broadcast, in which he said, “This educational website on the Holocaust in the Arabic language presents a unique opportunity to learn about and understand the issues which are not only of historical import, but are also vital to our lives today."
Holocaust survivor Dina Beitler, whose filmed testimony, with Arabic subtitles, is part of the new website, spoke emotionally at the event, at one point breaking into tears, “Holocaust denial in various countries exists, and so it is important that people see us, the Holocaust survivors, that they’ll listen to our testimonies, and learn the legacy of the Holocaust - also in Arabic.”
Minister of Science, Culture and Sport Raleb Majadele remarked: “The Internet is difficult to block with barriers of censorship and hate. From now on, also Arabic speakers will be able to learn the truth about the Holocaust.”
The launch event included a panel discussion on “The Holocaust and the Arab World” moderated by journalist Smadar Perry (Yediot Achronot). The panel included Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev, Dr. Meir Litvak of Tel Aviv University, and journalist Nazir Majali (Ashraq Alawsat).
The Arabic website, accessible from Yad Vashem’s website at https://www.yadvashem.org , includes the historical narrative of the Holocaust, concepts from the Holocaust, academic articles, artifacts, maps, photos, archival documents and an online video testimony resource center all translated into Arabic, as well as a special multimedia presentation of the Auschwitz Album, with Arabic narration, stories of Righteous Among the Nations - including Muslims from Turkey and Albania - and the movie We Were There, which documents a joint visit of Arabs and Jews to Auschwitz. The site also contains information on the study of Arabic in Theresienstadt, and the Yad Vashem exhibit, “Besa - A Code of Honor: Muslim Albanians who Rescued Jews during the Holocaust.” The website was made possible thanks to the generous donation of Stuart Golvin and Ilene Golvin of Canada.
In 2007, nearly 7 million people, from more than 200 countries, visited Yad Vashem’s website, with some 56,000 from Muslim countries, including 32,500 visitors Arabic speaking countries.