Moroccan King leads with recognition of Holocaust
For those who have ever visited the RAC offices here in Washington D.C., you may have realized that our Dupont Circle location puts us right in the realm of embassy row, the stretch of Massachusetts Ave. that is largely populated by embassies.
This has proven convenient when we have protested the genocide in Darfur at the Sudanese Embassy (less than ¼ mile away), sought to influence South Africa's AIDS policies (about a 15 minute walk up the street), or met with Indian diplomats (across Kivie Kaplan Way).
Even closer, just on Q St., is the embassy of the Kingdom of Morocco. The next time I'm walking by, I'll have to give a shout out to the elusive embassy staff. Morocco's King Mohammed IV has quietly built upon his country's reputation as a "quiet pioneer" in Arab-Israeli peace efforts, recently delivering a speech at the launch of the Aladdin Project, an initiative created by the Foundation for the Memory of the Shoah intended to increase awareness of the genocide among Muslims.
Cutting against widespread Holocaust denialism, the Aladdin Project organizes conferences around Holocaust awareness and provides translation of texts such as Anne Frank's diary into Arabic and Farsi. King Mohammed VI called the Holocaust the "one of the most tragic chapters of modern history" and applauded the work of the Aladdin Project. As Anne-Marie Revcolevschi, director of the Shoah foundation, stated, this speech "was a very important political act," in fact "the first time an Arab head of state [has taken] such a clear stand on the Shoah."
This speech may be the result of the Obama Administration's diplomatic outreach. One of the crucial elements of President Obama's speech in Cairo was his direct challenge of the widespread Holocaust denial in Muslim and Arab countries.
"America's strong bonds with Israel are well known. This bond is unbreakable. It is based upon cultural and historical ties, and the recognition that the aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic history that cannot be denied.
Around the world, the Jewish people were persecuted for centuries, and anti-Semitism in Europe culminated in an unprecedented Holocaust. Tomorrow, I will visit Buchenwald, which was part of a network of camps where Jews were enslaved, tortured, shot and gassed to death by the Third Reich. Six million Jews were killed -- more than the entire Jewish population of Israel today. Denying that fact is baseless, it is ignorant, and it is hateful. Threatening Israel with destruction -- or repeating vile stereotypes about Jews -- is deeply wrong, and only serves to evoke in the minds of Israelis this most painful of memories while preventing the peace that the people of this region deserve."
Thus, while much more must be done by all parties involved in the Israeli-Palestinian and Israeli-Arab conflict to meet international commitments and overcome bridges and divides that exist, King Mohammed's modest step forward seems worth recognizing.