Our day continued with lunch at the Yad Vashem cafeteria. And then we, as all Museums end, we spent time in the gift shop. It was somehow strangely refreshing that amidst all the horror, one can go up and buy a magen david (a Star of David), and wear it proudly. Before it was a symbol of Jewish suffering and oppression, and now it is a symbol once again of Jewish defiance and strength.
Our tour continued on into the Judean hills where we planted trees in a Jewish National Fund Forest. Israel is the only modern country where there are now more trees than when the country was founded. Hundreds of millions have been planted. The trees for decades prior had been mostly pine trees, but now they recognize the need for ecological diversity, and they now plant a variety of them.
It was a nice contrast to be able to leave the horrors of the Holocaust and know that we could use our hands to help bring about new life in our people’s homeland.
|The tree I planted in honor of my family. May its roots grow to nourish it, and may it grow tall and strong|
|Overlooking the JNF Forest|
Our trip then continued on to the outskirts of Jerusalem. From there we looked out onto Bethlehem and discussed the realities of the “Security Fence,” and its ramifications for Israel and the Palestinians.
Without going into too much detail, for most Israelis, the fence is not at question. Ever since its construction, there have been almost no suicide bombings. There have been almost no significant acts of terror. The only question really is how the fence is set up. Most of the fence is not a wall, but instead it is a series of fences with a security road.
The IDF initially was not very deliberate in how it built the fence often times separating community from community and communities from their olive groves and other means of income. Following a significant court case, whereby several miles of very expensive fence had to be relocated, the IDF and Israeli government are now more deliberate about where they set the fence up.
I firmly believe that Israel’s first role is to protect its citizens, and there are those who may disagree with me, but I found it helpful to look out and see the reality of the fence.
Maybe one day the fence will no longer be necessary. But until that day…
|The 'Security Fence'|