The United Arab Emirates will begin teaching lessons on the Holocaust at primary and secondary schools across the country, officials at the country’s embassy in the US said.
The embassy provided no details on the curriculum and education authorities in the Emirates, a federation of seven sheikhdoms, did not immediately acknowledge the announcement on Monday.
However, the announcement comes after the UAE normalised relations with Israel in 2020 as part of a deal brokered by the administration of then-US president Donald Trump.
“In the wake of the historic #AbrahamAccords, (the UAE) will now include the Holocaust in the curriculum for primary and secondary schools,” the embassy said in a tweet, referring to the normalisation deal that also saw Bahrain and ultimately Morocco also recognise Israel.
Ambassador Deborah E Lipstadt, the US special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism, praised the announcement in her own tweet.
“Holocaust education is an imperative for humanity and too many countries, for too long, continue to downplay the Shoah for political reasons,” Ms Lipstadt wrote, using a Hebrew word for the Holocaust.
“I commend the UAE for this step and expect others to follow suit soon.”
The announcement comes ahead of a planned meeting of the Negev Forum Working Groups in Abu Dhabi this week, which grew out of the normalisation.
The meeting will see officials from Bahrain, Egypt, Israel, Morocco, the UAE and the US attend. Egypt has diplomatically recognised Israel for decades.
The Holocaust saw the Nazis systematically kill six million European Jews during Second World War. Israel, founded in 1948 as a haven for Jews in the wake of the Holocaust, grants automatic citizenship to anyone of Jewish descent.
Other Arab nations have refused to diplomatically recognise Israel over its decades-long occupation of land Palestinians want for a future state.
The announcement by the UAE also comes after it and other Arab nations condemned an ultra-nationalist Israeli cabinet minister for visiting a flashpoint Jerusalem holy site for the first time since Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new far-right government took office.
The site, known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary, is the holiest site in Judaism, home to the ancient biblical Temples.
Today, it houses the Al Aqsa Mosque, the third-holiest site in Islam.
Since Israel captured the site in 1967, Jews have been allowed to visit but not pray there.
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