New push for more Holocaust studies

Jewish organizations in The Netherlands want to open up their community institutions to show Dutch school pupils more about Jewish life and history than Holocaust studies. Dutch director of the Amsterdam Liberal Jewish Community (LJG) Madelon Bino tells Trouw that organizations want to show students that there is a difference between Jewish life in The Netherlands and Israeli politics. 

Bino says that there is currently a great need for lessons about Judaism. Many Jews feel that anti-Semitism has increased since the Gaza conflict.  Norbert Hinterleitner, head of the education department of the Anne Frank Foundation tells Trouw that the story of Anne Frank is not enough to tackle discrimination. "Lessons about the Holocaust do not take away anti-Semitism." He says that teachers must place anti-Semitism in the context of exclusion, racism and discrimination, which are universal themes.

According to Trouw, the Ministry of Education is now having research done to see how much 'shyness' there is amongst teachers to discuss and teach about taboo subjects. By bringing universal themes such as discrimination into the subject, it will become easier for teachers to make pupils understand the subject. In this way, Hinterleitner hopes to fight anti-Semitism in this generation, to change behavior.

In Amsterdam, the LJG is organizing 'get to know your neighbor' classes, which works in a peer education format, in which pupils are introduced to other young people who then talk to them about a certain subject. The classes are already underway with Amsterdam's roc MBO/Zuid school. Jewish youths speak about biases against Jews that they have to live with to MBO students, most of which are of non-Western origin.

This project is now also being used in Synagogues in Utrecht, Rotterdam and The Hague. The hope is to dissociate Jewish people from the Holocaust and for students to learn to see Jewish people as people with a religion that has a lot in common with Christianity and Islam. "In this way, Judaism gets a face", says Ron van der Wieken of the Dutch Confederation for Progressive Judaism. "That works better than a hundred books."