Yad Vashem fires employee who compared Holocaust to Nakba

By Yoav Stern

Yad Vashem has fired an instructor who compared the trauma of Jewish Holocaust survivors with the trauma experienced by the Palestinian people in Israel's War of Independence.

Itamar Shapira, 29, of Jerusalem, was fired before Passover from his job as a docent at the Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority, after a teacher with a group of yeshiva students from Efrat made a complaint. Shapira had worked at Yad Vashem for three and a half years.

This is the first time that Yad Vashem has fired a guide over political differences, an institution official said Wednesday.

Shapira confirmed, in a telephone conversation with Haaretz, that he had spoken to visitors about the 1948 massacre at Deir Yassin.

He said he did so because the ruins of the Arab village, today a part of Jerusalem's Givat Shaul neighborhood, can be seen as one leaves Yad Vashem.

"Yad Vashem talks about the Holocaust survivors' arrival in Israel and about creating a refuge here for the world's Jews. I said there were people who lived on this land and mentioned that there are other traumas that provide other nations with motivation," Shapira said.

"The Holocaust moved us to establish a Jewish state and the Palestinian nation's trauma is moving it to seek self-determination, identity, land and dignity, just as Zionism sought these things," he said.

A Yad Vashem official said the institution objects to any political use of the Holocaust, especially by a docent working for it.

The institution's position is that the Holocaust cannot be compared to any other event and that every visitor can draw his own political conclusions.

Yad Vashem spokeswoman Iris Rosenberg said that after holding a hearing for Shapira, at which he refused to accept his superiors' instructions and change his teaching methods, it was decided to terminate his job as a guide in the institute's school for Holocaust studies.

"Yad Vashem would have acted unprofessionally had Itamar Shapira continued his educational work for the institute," Rosenberg said.

Yad Vashem employs workers and volunteers from the entire political and social spectrum, who know how to separate their personal position from their work, she said.

Shapira said Yad Vashem chooses to examine only some of the events that took place in the War of Independence. "It is being hypocritical. I only tried to expose the visitors to the facts, not to political conclusions. If Yad Vashem chooses to ignore the facts, for example the massacre at Dir Yassin, or the Nakba ["The Catastrophe," the Palestinians' term for what happened to them after 1948], it means that it's afraid of something and that its historic approach is flawed," Shapira said.

From Ha'aretz, 23/04/2009

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Yigal wrote that we should not mention Nazis or Apartheid here. I think mentioning Nazi atrocities is important to understand the kind of racism that leads down teh slippery slope to genocide. And as far as Apartheid: the term si now a crime that is defined by International law (the International Convention against the crime of apartheid) and it refers to any system of segreghating people and having two sets of laws etc. Not specific to South Africa.
That's still what I think, Mazin.

And that It is more important for us to understand the kind of brotherhood that can build up the stable foundation for peaceful coexistence.

It is my observation that the use
of those two terms, on mepeace,
has destroyed and detoured and
confused more discussions
than it has positively contributed to.

You can't use an atom bomb to hammer in a nail.
Let su agree to dissagree about whether teh use of these terms are helpful or harmful :-) I will defend your right to not use them and the right of others to use them..
Thank you.

I stil hope we see less of them, and more relevant material, like recipes...
Hi Yigal,

Mazin clearly feels that he and the people cannot make a real case for the Palestinians without using the emotive and factually inappropriate name calling. The practical result of that is that the inappropriate and inept and silly name calling becomes the issue.

It seems to me that all Mazin just wants to do here is to rage, enrage and incite.

And as you wrote Yigal, clearly "You can't use an atom bomb to hammer in a nail.".

I hope that Mazin''s students are reading all this. They seem to be Mazin's primary audience. :-)

Mazin: Please read

Be well...
Foster and Paul:
If you think it unproductive to debate the merits of using terminologies of apartheid and racism to describe what is happening in this land, then pleasedon't. I am not interested in that kind of debate anyway. I simply used terms. You are the ones who have issues of the use of tehse terms and want to spend time debating this. I don't as most peopel here including Jewish members of this forum (e.g. Jeffrey, Shaul, Eva, Fred Shlomka etc.). We will thus continue to use the appropriate terms. As a biologist, I also do tell my students that it is critical to use the appropriate names :-)



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