Now, this is the way to peace in the Middle East...
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Growing up in the West Bank, Mujahid Sarsur knew next to nothing about the Holocaust and saw little ground to sympathize with a people he saw as his occupier. But thanks to an Israeli roommate overseas, the 21-year-old Palestinian student learned about the Nazi murder of 6 million Jews during World War II and discovered a new understanding of his Israeli neighbors.
Now he wants other Arabs to do the same. Sarsur heads one of a handful of Palestinian grass-roots groups seeking knowledge about the Holocaust.
On Wednesday, he led a delegation of 22 students to Israel’s official Holocaust memorial, Yad Vashem. The students, fasting for Ramadan, listened closely to their Arabic-speaking guide’s explanations, and were left wide-eyed by the gruesome images of the death camps.
Girls in Muslim head scarves turned away in horror at the sight of Jewish corpses being shoveled into pits. They huddled together as they watched film from Auschwitz, where about 1 million Jews were put to death.
“The Holocaust is a huge part of Israeli society. We live so close to them and we need to understand them better if we are ever to live in peace,” said Sarsur, a junior at Bard College in New York. “If we change the way we think about the Holocaust, we can create bridges.”