One of the things I love to do while traveling in Israel is to ask questions to Palestinians living and working in Israel and to the Israeli Jews themselves about how each of them looks at the situation here. Of course you will get wildly differing viewpoints. But what I want to hear is what THEY think, not what the news people tell you they think. Their coexistence on this small piece of real estate is a very complicated matter but for the most part the majority on both sides is trying to make it work. When you get one-on-one with both Palestinians and Jews they are very friendly and helpful people, not because they hope to get something from you but because friendliness and hospitality are a part of their culture. I think this is especially true with the Palestinians. The entire Arab culture has this built in tendency to be warm and friendly to strangers. I will miss all of these people and of course, being a Christian pastor and teacher, I will miss this land that just reeks of a history that really matters for the world.
Today was our last day in Jerusalem, and, for that matter, Israel. We’ll be heading home tomorrow at 12:15 Israeli time, Lord willing. We spent most of the day in Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Museum. It is almost a sacred place for the Israelis, as you could probably understand (they refer to the Holocaust as the “Shoah).” It is a massive construction involving varying aspects of the Holocaust and spread out over 45 acres. The main building, which presents the Holocaust from the viewpoint of the Jewish people, is a very thorough presentation which really takes about 3 hours or so to do it justice. It is presented in a chronological way, beginning with Hitler’s rise to power in 1933. And not only do they present the political aspects, and the deteriorating culture that became so demeaning to German Jews, and the many acts of insult and persecution against the Jews, but they also do these presentations in a personal way by showing individual families by name and how they were affected by all that was happening. Pictures of individuals, letters they wrote to friends and family while all of this was going on, are all presented in such a way that just brings you into the story. Unfortunately, no photos were allowed to be taken inside the museum so I have few pictures of the place to show you.
We really enjoyed our stay here and all three of us still have something we would like to come back to see and experience and maybe that is the way it should be. In fact, in all the traveling we have done we have never had a “been there—done that” attitude. Thanks for following our travels.
Bud & Kathy
Bud and Kathy Downs are making another trip to the Lands of the Bible-- first Turkey and Greece (from May 11 to 22) and then to Israel (from May 22 to June 8). We invite you to join us through our travel blog. We intend to post regular updates and pictures of Bible sites.