UAE Museum Unveils Torah Scroll that Survived the Holocaust in Tolerance Push

Visitors attend an event commemorating the Holocaust, in which a 16th century Torah scroll that survived the Holocaust was officially unveiled, at Crossroad of Civilizations Museum, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, January 28, 2023. (Reuters/Abdel Hadi Ramahi)

DUBAI (Reuters) – A private museum in the United Arab Emirates unveiled on Saturday a Torah scroll that survived the Holocaust, the latest sign of what Israel and its new Arab allies describe as a new approach to understanding Jewish history in the Middle East.

Ahmed Obaid Al Mansoori, founder of the Crossroads of Civilizations Museum in Dubai’s historic district, said the display, unveiled for International Holocaust Remembrance Day would help combat “big denial” of the Holocaust in the region.

“For us peace is a complete peace,” Al Mansoori said. “Many people have forgotten the Jews are part of the region. So here, we’re trying to show…the good days between the Jews and the Arabs in the past.”

The scroll is on permanent loan to the museum from the Memorial Scrolls Trust, which looks after more than 1,000 Czech scrolls saved from the Holocaust and later sent to London.

“I lived in the Arab world when I was young, and the term Holocaust does not exist … So this is a huge step,” said Edwin Shuker, an Iraqi-Jewish businessman and vice-president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, who facilitated the loan.

Israel has reached out to promote understanding of Judaism among its new allies in the two years since the UAE and fellow Gulf state Bahrain, followed by Morocco and Sudan, forged ties with it under U.S.-brokered pacts known as the Abraham Accords.

The history of the killing of six million Jews by Nazi Germany is scantily taught in the Arab world, in an effort by some to discredit Israel’s claim to need a safe haven for Jews following the destruction of European Jewry.

In the years that followed the establishment of the state of Israel, major Jewish communities that had existed for centuries throughout the Middle East largely disappeared, with hundreds of thousands of Jews emigrating from Arab countries to the new state, many due to persecution.

The Emirati embassy in Washington, in a social media post earlier this month, said the UAE would include Holocaust education at schools, the first country in the region to do so. “It’s important to remember what happened. It’s important to make sure that it will never happen again. And it’s important to stand here together, all of us, Israelis, Emiratis and others in order to say: Not anymore,” Israeli ambassador to the UAE, Amir Hayek, told Reuters on the sidelines of the museum event.

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