As President Obama prepares for his first trip to Israel, I hope when he gets there he sees what I saw.
Several weeks ago I returned from my first trip to Israel. I went with a delegation headed by Governor Mike Huckabee, who visits Israel at least once every year.
What did I see?
I saw kids, no more than 18 years old, walking down the street, waiting at bus stops, wearing Army green khakis, and carrying machine guns on their backs. One young girl was as black skinned as me.
Kids doing their compulsory army service as part of Israel’s citizen army. Three years for boys, two years for girls. No university deferment. First high school, then army, then university.
I also saw Masada. The fortress at the top of a mountain rising high above the Judean Desert, where, almost 2000 years ago, a contingent of Jewish zealots, having fled Jerusalem after the fall of the second Temple, took their own lives rather than surrender to the Roman troops closing in on them.
New recruits into Israel’s army, the Israel Defense Forces, climb the long winding path to the mountaintop fortress at Masada and vow to not let Masada fall again.
I also saw Israel’s Holocaust Museum, Yad VaShem – the name taken from a verse in Isaiah, “….I will give in mine house and my walls a place and a name…an everlasting name which shall not be cut off…” that documents the horrors out of which the State of Israel emerged.
I walked through the halls of deep mourning and saw the displays, the photos, the books and papers, documenting the unimaginable.
The unimaginable and intentional slaughter of 6 million Jews, a third of the world’s Jewish population, done less then three quarters of a century ago and perpetrated by a German nation which was home to some of the foremost scientists, writers, and philosophers of modern times.
A crime of dimensions beyond human conception, perpetrated by a madman whom at the time some in the Western world thought they could do business with. Now today a madman in Iran, who some in the Western world think they can do business with, denies these events even occurred.
My thoughts turned with agony back to my own home in America where the lives of 55 million unborn children have been taken since 1973.
I saw the prime minister of Israel take 40 minutes out of his busy day, in the midst of trying to form a new government in this boisterous democracy, to welcome our small group into his office in the parliament building and take our questions. He even took one from me, which he answered at length and with care.