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September 03, 2009

Not Quite the Full "Range" of Palestinian Holocaust Attitudes

Holocaust denial and other anti-Semetic attitudes rampant in the Arab world are certainly issues that should be explored by the press. So the recent AP coverage of Holocaust denial by a Hamas leader is important and necessary.

But in such reports, as in all reports, precise language is necessary — especially when making blanket statements about entire groups. Which is why the following blanket assertion raised eyebrows:

Many Palestinians are reluctant to acknowledge Jewish suffering, fearing it might diminish their own. Attitudes toward the Holocaust range from outright denial to challenging its scope.

There's little doubt that too many Palestinians deny the Holocaust, as did this Hamas leader, or question its scope, as did Palestinian leader in the West Bank Mahmoud Abbas. Such attitudes appear to be widespread enough that, when an Israeli Arab opened a small museum acknowledging the Holocaust as a reality, the editor of Arab newspaper in Israel said his ideas are "strange and unacceptable to most Palestinians." (The editor went so far as to suggest that the museum founder suffers from "brain damage.")

And this anecdotal evidence is backed by the harder kind: According to a recent Haifa University poll, about 40 percent of Israeli Arabs believe the Holocaust never occurred. It's certainly within the realm of possibility that many or most of the remaining 60 percent challenge its scope.

Nonetheless, it's a stretch to suggest that, in the entire "range" of Palestinian attitudes, there is no segment, however small, that acknowledges the Holocaust occurred as documented by Western historiography.

One better alternative, if this is what the reporter found, would be to write: "Attitudes toward the Holocaust tend to range from outright denial to challenging its scope."

If inserting those two words seems like a small difference, well, that's another argument in favor of opting for the more precise language.

Posted by GI at September 3, 2009 05:02 PM

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