Thursday, March 14, 2013
We began Thursday by going into the Gazelle Valley and planting trees. The planting of trees has a long and important history with Israel. All the trees and all the grass there was planted, and it is a kind of pilgrimage for people to come and plant a tree there. While I might disagree with the practice, thinking that in many ways it is a waste of resources (it is, after all, a desert), there was something zen and blissful about pointing that tree. Feeling the earth on your hands, connects you, and planting the tree gives you a hint of hope for the future.
A scheduling conflict lost us our chance to meet with students at Hebrew University, but it gained us the opportunity to have a lesson on security with Michael. It was fascinating. He made the Arab Israeli conflict clear, in a way that the world’s politicians and media have failed at, and a way that I can’t quite explain. He also made I clear the purpose and necessity of building the security barrier, the difficulties involved in making the barrier as fair as it can be. There is a sadness in the fact that it is there, but an equal sadness in the fact that it is necessary.
In the afternoon we went to Yad Vashim, a beautiful museum designed to commemorate the Holocaust and its victims.
This is probably the most beautiful monument that I’ve yet seen; the main museum rising like an arrow from the ground and traces out the path that led the Jews from their old lives, through the Holocaust, and the emergence of what they call the new Jew, who is best symbolized, as I was told multiple times, by a plow in one hand, and a gun in the other. This is a place that the soldiers come to learn, and it shows not just what happened, not just how Israel came to be, but why it came to be.