American-Muslim group urges Palestinians to visit Holocaust Museum

The Islamic Society of North America is defying Hamas and urging Palestinian youths to visit the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., the Jewish news service JTA reports.

A group of A-students from the Gaza Strip are to visit the nation’s capital on a UN-sponsored educational visit. Their tour is to include the Holocaust Museum, but Hamas, which runs the Palestinian Authority, has criticized the plan. A Hamas spokesman says Palestinian children suffer enough persecution and can’t deal with learning about other people’s suffering.

That prompted the Islamic Society of North America to make a public statement endorsing the plan, saying they’ve taken Muslims there before and that it has had a positive effect on Muslim-Jewish relations.

I’ve never seen this museum, but I have been to the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem. Although I went nearly twenty years ago, I have a very clear memory of speaking to a German student who I met there. Her reason for going? “I feel it’s my responsibility as a German.” She became a friend, and although she often criticizes Israel’s policies, she’s fully aware of what happened in the biggest crime of the twentieth century.

Who knows? Perhaps this will encourage Jewish-American children to visit Palestinian high schools, or Iranian and American kids to set up an exchange program, or North and South Korea to create a communal youth group.

Hmmm. . .is that too much to hope for this holiday season?

[Image courtesy user AgnosticPreachersKid via Wikimedia Commons]

Traveling in Palestine

It’s not the first place on my travel wish list, but
you have to hand it to writer Rebecca Sinderbrand for heading to a place like Palestine (AKA Hamastan) to experience
first hand the state of affairs there. In this piece in online Magazine
she takes a look at post-election Palestine and talks with folks on the street to find out how Palestinians
are dealing with the future of their country/land/poltics following the surprising (to the Bushies anyway) victory of
the militant group Hamas in the recent elections. Some, it turns out, are not so happy. One guy wonders whether the
much stricter Hamas will impose Sharia law, thereby making it much harder to drink beer (a valid concern in my book).
But others are ebullient, and some apprently see the election as a rebuttal to American efforts to influence the
region, saying "Why do they think they can tell us what to do? Do they listen to our opinions of their leaders?
You think we get a say in what America does?" Perhaps another valid point. Either way, I enjoyed this piece more
than I have many of the others I’ve read about Palestine and the Palestinians since the vote.