A reflection from Israel
posted at 10:30 am on June 15, 2013 by Guy Benson
I’ve had the privilege of spending the past week in Israel with a small group of American journalists, courtesy of the America Israel Friendship League. Our itinerary has been packed with security briefings, excursions to holy sites, and meetings with Israeli journalistic and political figures. It’s all been fascinating, but yesterday I internalized an especially emotional dichotomy. We began our day at Yad Vashem, Israel’s sprawling Holocaust remembrance museum and research complex. Needless to say, the exhibits are horrifying. For hours, we reflected on the depths of human evil, evidenced by a massive collection of artifacts, testimony, photographs and films. Hitler’s forces were intent on extinguishing the Jewish people from the face of the earth. One list on display revealed the Nazis’ careful tabulation of Europe’s entire Jewish population, including those residing in yet-unconquered regions like Britain. Their final figure: Roughly 11 million human beings. Their objective was to track every single one of those people down and exterminate them. Appallingly, they fulfilled more than 50 percent of that goal. We also learned about evidence indicating that if Germany had won the war, the Nazis were prepared to carry their Holocaust to North America. The magnitude of that evil, and the depth of that hate, is almost too much to comprehend. Contemporary reminders of the horrors continue to this day.
Several hours later, we finished our Friday by attending a Shabbat service at an orthodox synagogue in Jerusalem, followed by a traditional dinner at the local rabbi’s home. During the meal, I watched the young rabbi carry out ancient religious rituals, surrounded by his happy, healthy and growing family. They sang in Hebrew, the same language their ancestors spoke. They practiced their forebears’ faith. And they did so in a safe and thriving Jewish state, located on the same parcel of land their people have inhabited for millennia. More than seventy years ago, a malignant ideology terrorized world Jewry. The resulting genocide continues to shock the free world’s collective conscience. But for all of Hitler’s vile efficiency, he and his killers ultimately failed. And that failure is embodied by the smiling, laughing, faithful family with whom our delegation broke bread last evening. How beautiful. How moving.