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Saturday, December 8, 2012

Study of the Holocaust compulsory for Australian schools

After a successful three year lobbying campaign by the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, the study of the Holocaust will be compulsory for all NSW school students in years 9 and 10 from 2014.

Vic Alhadeff, Chief Executive of the Jewish Board said "The Holocaust is a warning to every generation about the potential for evil, especially as a consequence of racial hatred, and about the inherent evil of totalitarian regimes.  It teaches us that every generation owes it to itself and to future generations to cherish and, if necessary, fight to defend the sanctity of life, dignity and freedom."

Lord Baker

The Jewish Board is now calling on the Gillard government to join 28 other Western nations and sign up to the Task Force for International Co-operation on Holocaust  Education, Remembrance and Research.

But there is another point of view.  This time last year Lord Baker, the architect of the British National Curriculum, said that Britain should stop teaching what happened in the Holocaust so that children will see Germany in a better light.  "I would ban the study of Nazism from the curriculum totally" he said.  "I'm sure that German children are not studying the British Civil War, Right?"

Lord Baker

James Smith, Chairman of the British Holocaust Centre doesn't agree with him.  "The study of the Holocaust leaves children ill-disposed to present day Germany, only if it is badly taught.  The period of the Nazis was not just a blimp in German history, the Holocaust was a Europe-wide crime" he said.

"The Holocaust is why the nations of the world, not only Germany, ratified the United Nations Convention to Prevent and Punish the Crime of Genocide and why the UN looked forward to the day the International Criminal Court would be established" he said.  "Forgetting how much of our legislation that protects fair and equal societies is rooted in the knowledge of how far humans can sink would be a backward step for civil society and democratic values."

Personally, I am glad this compulsory teaching is going ahead. Children need to know what Hitler did to the Jewish people, it's an important part of recent history and shouldn't be wiped out just because feelings might be hurt.

But we know what's going on in Israel and their hunger to build more settlements.  Mr Netanyahu is unrepentant and defiant and determined to keep building in all areas that are "on the map of the strategic interests of Israel."  Some will see the irony in this as his enemies have accused him of being Hitler-like himself.