The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the view of The Hill

Shocking ignorance about the Holocaust illustrates the need to pass the Never Again Education Act

Getty Images

We began this fight because sadly, Americans know far too little about the Holocaust and the consequences are touching communities across the country. Most states don’t require Holocaust education, leaving students – and sometimes teachers and administrators – painfully unaware of what happened to the Jewish people and other minorities under the Nazi regime. Shocking levels of ignorance have put communities at risk, but Congress is well on its way to fighting back.

Because the U.S. does not require Holocaust education, two-thirds of American teens are unaware that Adolf Hitler came to power through a democratic political process. Two-thirds of millennials do not know what Auschwitz was. More than four in 10 millennials believe that two million or fewer Jews were killed in the Holocaust. And in that vacuum of information, bigotry and hatred have been given room to rise. This is the fuel behind deadly targeted attacks that have stricken Jewish and other minority communities across the nation.

A response is urgent and the solution must be bipartisan, unequivocal and enduring. Our organizations and our members recognize that building communities of tolerance and inclusion must begin with education, which is why we strongly support the Never Again Education Act.

School is where our understanding of the world begins to take shape. It’s where we learn to thrive in a diverse society, work with others, cherish each other’s uniqueness and understand who we are as individuals. Local jurisdictions will have to make their own decisions about curricula, but those who teach the Holocaust and its universal lessons should position educators to offer their very best. We cannot expect educators to teach a subject as intense as the Holocaust without instructional resources and professional support.

Educators must be able to teach accurately and confidently at age appropriate levels the extreme consequences of where the evils of intolerance can bring a society – and just how quickly a society can devolve into horrors.

Both Christians United for Israel and Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America – the two largest pro-Israel organizations in the world – are confident that even in this time of extreme partisanship (and in an election year), Congress will get the job done.

The Never Again Education Act is one of just a handful of bills that has a chance of passing both the House and Senate in a truly bipartisan fashion. The House acted on Jan. 27, passing its version with 393 affirmative votes. And since then the momentum behind the bill, led by Sens. Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) and Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), has steadily grown.

Members representing rural states with small Jewish populations and large states with major urban centers home to large Jewish populations have both signed up as co-sponsors, nearly doubling the number of supporters in the Senate since the House vote. Each recognizes that creating a new federal program and fund to help educators access resources and training for high quality Holocaust education will help make every community more tolerant, cohesive and peaceful. This is in America’s best interests, and we’re glad to have helped temporarily align offices that might otherwise never stand beside one another.

As is often the case, there are differences between the House and Senate bills. Chief among them is the authorizing body. In the bill that passed the House, the director of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum is responsible for creating and distributing the resources and materials for Holocaust education programs, determining participant eligibility and reporting the program’s activities annually to Congress. Under Rosen’s bill, the U.S. Department of Education would oversee these duties.

Rosen and her original co-sponsors have assured us that any bill the Senate passes will put the Museum in charge, aligning both chambers and allowing the bill to move to the White House for President Trump’s signature.

The lessons of the Holocaust are universal and can help students recognize anti-Semitism, hatred, bigotry, extremism and the risk of genocide so they are empowered to prevent it when they’re grown. It is imperative that the Senate act quickly so the president can sign this urgent legislation, drawing the nation closer together and protecting America against the world’s oldest hatred.

Karen Paikin Barall is the director of government relations for Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America. Alexandria Paolozzi is the director of government affairs for Christians United for Israel Action Fund.

Tags Donald Trump Holocaust Jacky Rosen Kevin Cramer

More Education News

See All

Most Popular

Load more


See all Video