From Empathy to Denial: Arab Responses to the Holocaust (review)
Journal of Jewish Identities, Issue 3, Number 1, pp. 86-88.
By Daniel H. Magilow.
In June 2009, when American President Barack Obama delivered a long-awaited speech about the United States' relationship to the Muslim world at Cairo University, The New York Times invited several young Egyptian and Jordanian students to respond in an online forum. One poster, a 20-year old university student named Tarek Hefni, began by praising Obama's nuanced oratory. "He made his speech relevant to the audience," Hefni noted, "by always going back to Islam and differentiate [sic] between Islam as a religion and violent extremists as individuals." Yet two sentences later, he added a dissenting note that surely struck most readers of The Times as both deeply insulting and stunningly ignorant: "I did not feel very comfortable regarding […] treating the Holocaust as a fact. It is still a debatable issue and should not be taken as granted."
With From Empathy to Denial: Arab Responses to the Holocaust, Meir Litvak and Esther Webman, both researchers at the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies at Tel Aviv University, have confronted head-on how and why an Arab university student could harbor such opinions. The reason is simple and yet, paradoxically, under-researched, presumably because of the linguistic and cultural barriers that Arabic presents to most English speakers.
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(My publication)Posted: Thursday, February 11, 2010