A  CONTROVERSIAL LAW in Poland provides an opportunity to reassess Israel's relationship with the memory of the Holocaust.

EACH year tens of thousands of young Israelis [mostly students and also soldiers] visit Poland in what feels like the culmination of their Holocaust Education.

On these trips - encouraged by the Ministry of Education and undertaken, according to some measures, by about a third of  Israel's Jewish  students - teenagers visit the sites of the ghettos, the cemeteries and the death camps................But.... 

AND it may likewise be time to end Israel's participation in the March of the Living, an annual program in which Jews from around the world converge at Auschwitz and then walk to its companion death camp, Birkenau.

Israel shouldn't end its participation in these programs to save its relationship with Poland - but rather to save Israelis.

There's no doubt that these trips have merit. They certainly make the Israeli students appreciate the scope and severity of the horrors of the Holocaust.

These trips also force young Israelis see with their own eyes what can happen to a people when they are hated and defenseless - a lesson that is important today as it ever was.

So why end these trips?

First, because they contribute to a misperception by many Jews that remembering the Holocaust is the main feature of Judaism. Second, because they perpetuate the myth that Israel itself is born only of the ashes of Europe.

That memory of the Holocaust has in some ways become the main manifestation of commitment to Judaism is well documented.

The Pew research Center found that 73 percent of American Jews believe ''remembering the Holocaust'' is essential to being Jewish - a higher percentage than believe following Jewish law or caring about Israel is essential to their Jewish identity.

Among Israeli Jews, 65 percent say remembering the Holocaust is an essential part of their Jewish identity, more than living in Israel or working for justice and equality.

That Israeli teenagers spend a hefty part of their schooling preparing for a trip to death camps in Poland suggests that the next generation will feel similarly.

A healthy society cannot be defined by the memory of a tragedy.

 A healthy culture does not make a trip to where it was almost eliminated its main point for pilgrimage. Jewish youngsters would do better to focus their energies on the site that all generations of Jews have wanted to make pilgrimages to : Jerusalem. Auschwitz should not be elevated to sacredness.

Altering Israel's historical education will also help to change the perception in the country in the country that the Jewish state is here only because of the horrors Nazism.

The Sadness of the Honor and Serving of the latest global operational research on Students, Nations, History continues to Part 3.

!WOW! thanks author and researcher Shmuel Rosner, the political editor at The Jewish Journal and a senior fellow at the Jewish People Policy Institute.


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