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Monday, December 11, 2006

Arab-Israeli touts Holocaust as tool for peace

Arab-Israeli touts Holocaust as tool for peace

By Agence France Presse (AFP)

Monday, December 11, 2006

NAZARETH, Israel: With a clear vision on how to end the decades old Middle
East conflict, Arab-Israeli Khaled Kasab Mahameed heads for Iran Sunday to
warn fellow Muslims not to deny the Nazi Holocaust. "I have ideas on how to
bring peace within months. There is nothing more powerful than the Holocaust
to bring about peace," he says.

The 44-year-old lawyer is unique among fellow Arab-Israelis - he has created a
small memorial to the Holocaust in his office in Nazareth, drawing the ire of
both Palestinians and Jews.

Rows of black-and-white photographs hang from his office walls, showing images
of the Nazis' slaughter of six million Jews during World War II.

Mahameed inaugurated the mini-museum in March 2005 with pictures he bought
from the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem. He then translated
the captions into Arabic.

He says he did so to counter increasing calls in the Arab and Muslim world
denying the existence or scale of the Holocaust.

When Iran announced last month that it would hold an international conference
in Tehran, due to begin on Monday, to examine the Holocaust without any
"preconceived ideas," Mahameed knew he had to be there.

"The Holocaust denials by Muslims justify the denial of the rights of the
Palestinian people. I want to tell them they should recognize the Holocaust,"
he says.

Mahameed is steadfast in his conviction that if Palestinians were to
appreciate the meaning of the genocide of the Jews, they would understand what
led to their misfortune and so ultimately could bring about the yearning for

"When you talk about the pain the Holocaust involves, you unite people
together. But you must make the Palestinians understand how important the
Holocaust is and what it symbolizes for the Jews." Like all Palestinians,
Mahameed's family was affected by the nakba, or catastrophe - the creation of
millions of Palestinian refugees dispossessed from their land after Israel was
created in 1948 in the Holocaust's wake.

Israel's categorical rejection to recognize the Palestinians' "right of
return" to those lands has been one of the main stumbling blocks in efforts to
reach a peace deal.

During the 1948 war, Mahameed's father had to leave his village of Ilajoun, or
Armageddon, which today stands ruined in the Jazreel valley.

In his small office, he has a Palestinian flag and posters showing rusty keys,
symbolising dispossession, with the words below "it's either return ... or

"The Palestinians are always talking about the nakba and injustice. The
average Arab has no information about the Holocaust. If they stop and think
about the Jewish trauma they would realize violence only hurts them."

Mahameed says that so far he has been snubbed by most Palestinians. Most
Arab-Israeli MPs refuse to make any comment on his ideas. - AFP

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