New bill to ensure Holocaust education in US schools announced

A US lawmaker has teamed up with Jewish organizations to lead a bipartisan effort to improve education about the Holocaust in American schools. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and various Jewish advocacy groups on Monday announced the reintroduction of legislation entitled the Never Again Education Act.

The bipartisan bill seeks to introduce Holocaust studies into the curriculum of the US education system, and establish a federal fund that would provide teachers with the resources and to teach the horrific details of the Holocaust and its consequences, as well as develop textbooks and seminars on the subject. The bill comes in the wake of a recent wave of anti-Semitic attacks in the US.

Speaking to the media at the Center for Jewish History, Maloney—accompanied by Israel’s Consulate General in New York Danny Dayan—said the legislation is an important step in combating the rise of anti-Semitism in America.

“The rise of anti-Semitism in our country is extremely disturbing and I am terrified of the fact that people have walked through the district I am privileged to represent and have been beaten up and hurt because they are Jewish,” Maloney said. “We need to take proactive steps to combat this hatred. We must begin educating people, especially our young people, about the horrors of the Holocaust and how hate, evil, intolerance and ignorance can lead to mass murder.”

Despite successful professional development programs in the field of Holocaust studies, today, only eight states require this horrific subject to be part of the educational curriculum: California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island.

A recent survey conducted by the Claims Conference—a nonprofit organization that secures monetary and material compensation for Holocaust survivors—found that 31% of Americans and 41% of millenials believe that only two million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust, while 41% of Americans and 66% of millenials do not know what Auschwitz is. In addition, 52% of Americans believe that Hitler took the power in Germany by force.

According to the Anti-Defamation League—a Jewish non-profit that fights racial hatred in the US—there has been a 60% increase in anti-Semitic incidents in the country between 2016 and 2017.

The data released by the New York City Police Department shows that at least 180 anti-Semitic incidents occurred in the city in 2018, which represents a 22% increase from the previous year and a 38.6% increase from 2016.

“Charlottesville, Pittsburgh and the recent physical assaults on Jews in Brooklynrequire profound educational reform,” said Danny Dayan. “This legislation will lead to a revolution in Holocaust studies in the United States, and prevent a new generation from forgetting the past, which is essential for a secure future.”

“The reality in which the majority of the young people in the US are not aware of Auschwitz, is distorted and must be rectified. This will allow the American students to understand what anti-Semitism can ultimately lead to,” added Dayan.