Spain to vote on making Holocaust studies obligatory

(JTA) — Spain’s parliament is set to vote on an amendment that would make Holocaust studies obligatory for Spanish students.

Spain’s ruling People’s Party recently submitted the proposed amendment to the education law for approval by Spain’s lower house, according to a report Wednesday in the El Pais daily.

If passed, the proposed amendment would introduce the genocide of Jews by Nazi Germany into the curriculum “at various stages of basic education,” the Spanish news agency Europa Press reported Thursday.

The proposed amendment to the Organic Act for the Improvement of Educational Quality is part of a wider effort to include more materials that pertain to the prevention and peaceful resolution of conflicts and values underpinning democracy and human rights, Europa Press reported.

Reports in Spanish media did not say when the vote is scheduled to take place.

The president of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Spain, Isaac Querub, said the proposal “certainly represents progress,” but added that the federation would have liked to see a “more comprehensive amendment, explaining the general history of the Jewish people,” according to Europa Press.

“Unless the Holocaust is contextualized, it will give a distorted image of the history of the Jewish people,” he said.

He added that recent polls indicating high levels of anti-Semitism in Spain meant the amendment is necessary.

A study conducted last year by the Anti-Defamation League among 5,000 respondents from 10 European countries suggested that anti-Semitism in Spain was considerably more prevalent than in other countries.

More than half of Spanish respondents to the ADL survey demonstrated anti-Semitic attitudes compared to 17 in Britain. The only country that topped Spain’s 53 percent score was Hungary, with 63 percent.

“We believe that a better understanding of the Jews and their historical development limits bias,” Querub told Europa Press.

Until the 1970s, Spain was ruled by Francisco Franco, who made Spain a noncombatant ally of Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany during World War II. Still, Spain’s Jews were not handed over to the Nazis, and Spain under Franco became a major escape route for Jews fleeing Hitler’s persecution.

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