The intensity of our trip kicked up a notch with a Friday morning visit to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Museum here in Jerusalem. So striking was the historical memory of how Jews fleeing persecution were turned away and how the world then watched in silence - with knowledge - as the Holocaust began. It took years for the United States and other powers to intervene. Can we not see the parallels in the cries of refugee voices from Syria fleeing ISIL and the civil war there? Donald Trump is our modern Father Charles Coughlin - or perhaps worse.
On Thursday, we heard from Rabbi Arik Ascherman with Rabbis for Human Rights about the Jewish imperative to fight for human rights not just for Jews but for Muslims and Christians, along with all others. Yet the state of Israel is not protecting the human rights of Palestinians. Many Israelis disagree with current policy toward Palestinians, of course, but the situation here is untenable.
We also visited the national cemetery of Israel on Thursday where, among other, Yitzhak Rabin is buried. Prime Minister Rabin, while seeking to implement a new peace accord with the Palestinians, was killed by an ultra-Orthodox Jew. Israel has never been the same. Both the Israelis and Palestinians lack leadership with popular support that can compromise and seek peace. This is a terrible period. You hear over and over from people on different sides of the conflict a high level of fear and yet amazingly there are still people who have hope in the future. We felt a spirit of hope during a Shabbat service at Kol Haneshama Congregation on Friday night and again at a Shabbat dinner organized by Jewish friends of Chicago Theological Seminary living here in Jerusalem.
Tonight we'll have a discussion about the BDS movement - a movement I have voiced my concerns over.
Then we'll move into the Palestinian Authority for a few days. That will include discussions with Israeli settlers and Palestinian refugees. The intensity of our trip can only climb from here.