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Sharaka brings expanded Arab delegation to March of Living as part of Holocaust-education program

April 18, 2023

Twenty-two Arab influencers took part in the march in Poland following their trip to Israel earlier this year, and before devising and launching follow-up projects in their home communities.

Sharaka, a nongovernmental initiative that grows the impact of the Abraham Accords by transforming the vision of people-to-people peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors into a reality, brought 22 Arab participants to this year’s International March of the Living in Poland as part of a first-of-its-kind year-long program that promotes tolerance through Holocaust education.

The delegation from the Sharaka Tolerance Program—influencers, journalists and academics and NGO activists from Morocco, Bahrain, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon and Algeria together with Israeli Arabs—participated in the 3-kilometer (1.86-mile) march on April 18 leading from the Auschwitz concentration camp to the Birkenau extermination camp on Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom Hashoah).

Sharaka’s launch of its broader Holocaust-education initiative in the Arab world was inspired by the historic delegation that the nonprofit brought to March of the Living last year, which marked the first time that a pan-Arab delegation publicly partook in such a solidarity march.

Mohammed Hatimi, a history professor at Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah University in Fez, who was part of the delegation, said: “An Arab proverb says that seeing what happens on the spot is better than listening to what is said about what happened there. For this reason, nothing beats a visit to a place of memory that is universal in scope. To be present at Auschwitz and to participate in the march is an intense event that reinforces the conviction that I must do my best to teach about the Holocaust and to learn from it. We all need such a pilgrimage for our own education, but also to pay tribute to the millions of victims of human horror, horror caused by radicalism taken to the extreme.”

Over the course of the Sharaka Tolerance Program, participants are engaging in a series of in-person and online lectures and conversations about the Holocaust (including on the efforts of Muslims who saved Jews); antisemitism and all forms of extremism; genocide in modern history; sources of moderation within Islam; and what they can do in their societies to promote tolerance. The program is conducted with the assistance of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference), which is sponsored by the Foundation “Remembrance, Responsibility and Future” and supported by the German Federal Ministry of Finance.

“Sharaka’s effort to bring an Arab delegation to March of the Living for the second time, within the context of our yearlong tolerance program, is firmly rooted in our belief that the best way to prevent hatred and atrocities is by learning from the past,” said Amit Deri, founder of Sharaka. “The Holocaust must be viewed as the ultimate warning against where intolerance can lead if left unchecked.”

Prior to their March of the Living experience, delegation members visited Israel from Feb. 25 to March 3 to take part in an extensive seminar at Yad Vashem, Israel’s national Holocaust museum and education institute. They also discovered diverse parts of Israeli society; visited religious and historic sites; learned about tech and innovation; discussed geopolitics; and explored arts and culture.

Following the march, in the third and final signature experience of the year-long tolerance program, Sharaka delegation members will devise and launch follow-up projects in their home communities relating to promoting pluralism, coexistence, and Holocaust education.

“Ultimately, all effective advocacy and change-making begin with education,” said Dan Feferman, executive director of Sharaka. “After their multifaceted and immersive experience with Holocaust education, the Arab participants in our program will bring actionable and transformative lessons back home, positioning them to substantially strengthen the momentum towards greater tolerance that is already underway in their countries thanks to the Abraham Accords.”

Sharaka’s participation in March of the Living coincided with this year’s 80th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and the 35th anniversary of the march.

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