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VISITING YAD VASHEM


On Monday, I had the privilege of laying a wreath, alongside American Jewish Congress President Jack Rosen and the Mayor of San Salvador, El Salvador Nayib Bukeleis in memory of the six million Jews who died in the Holocaust, at Yad Vashem, Israel’s memorial museum for the victims of the Holocaust.

I was struck by the atrocities humanity can commit when respect for other cultures, nations and peoples is lacking.

This thought was further reinforced by the fact that I was accompanied by a delegation of international mayors and dignitaries visiting the state that was set up 70 years as a homeland for a displaced largely European population, and 80% of whose intended demographic had been murdered in the Holocaust.

Israel has not only gone from strength to strength economically and in terms of innovation and technology in its short life, but out of the ashes of the most horrific and widescale genocides of the twentieth century, Israel stands alone in a sea of regional neighbors promoting tolerance and respect for different cultures, nations and peoples.

Nowhere is that greater represented than in a country where Israeli Jew and Arab lives, works and prospers side by side each day — contrary to what we read in the international media, that is the reality of life on the ground in modern Israel.

For those looking at Israel from the outside and concerned whether the prospects of peace are as strong as they once were, I would direct you to Jack Rosen’s address to delegates at the International Mayors Conference in Israel at a lunch hosted by Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Monday.

“Time has not run out for the peace process. When you look at the changing situation on the ground, you get the feeling that things have altered dramatically and the tide of regional support has turned towards the Israelis. Israel & the US must continue strengthening ties with Gulf States to counter the growing Iranian threat if peace is to be a realistic prospect.”

“It is a positive sign that countries like Qatar are making an effort to invite Jewish leaders in the interests of promoting a culture of cooperation. I have been traveling to Gulf States for many years and while this openness to new diplomatic avenues isn’t a new phenomenon, we welcome these kinds of productive conversations between different leaders.

I am not someone who advocates stepping back from action to secure a solution we all seek, but I believe now is the time to let things marinate and see how far that takes us on the path to peace.”





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