June 13, 2022

The Holocaust in Arab Collective Consciousness

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by Hadeel Oueis, Senior Research Fellow

In addition to official-level initiatives, Arab countries should combat Holocaust denial at the grassroots level to stem the continued spread of hateful conspiracies.

On January 20th 2022, the United Nations adopted a resolution aimed at combatting denial of the Holocaust. The resolution, introduced by Israel and Germany, was adopted by the 193-member General Assembly without a vote. The U.N. said this step sends “a strong message against the denial and distortion of these historical facts.” Although the U.N. resolution on Holocaust denial called on social media companies to “take active measures to combat antisemitism and Holocaust denial or distortion,” anti-Semitic conspiracy theories remain highly prevalent in Arab societies, where they can be seen extensively on social media on a daily basis.

Despite the apparent progress on the issue made by some of the countries partaking in the Abraham Accords, an opinion poll conducted in June 2010 by the Saban Center for Middle East Policy showed that 56% of citizens in the six countries surveyed (Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, and the United Arab Emirates) do not sympathize with the Holocaust, compared to only 3% who do.

This outcome results from decades of inculcation and indoctrination by Arab regimes through a variety of educational institutions. Today, there are those who do not deny the Holocaust occurred, but do not sympathize with its victims. Rather, they believe the Jews got what they deserve. Then there are those who go further than that and promise a repeat of the Holocaust. A large segment of those who deny the Holocaust in Arab countries believe that the Jews died of natural causes or were sentenced to death by the state for criminal reasons, and that the Allied Powers deliberately inflated the number of Jews killed during the war. They also believe that a Jewish propaganda machine has promoted the Holocaust myth to extract huge sums of money from Germany and justify the founding of the state of Israel…