Today, Carli Aanderud – participant in our current Learning Community – reflects on our time entering the Israeli Narrative and our experience at Yad Vashem (Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem). As one who was raised in Germany, she’s offers a unique perspective on one of humanity’s darkest moments.
One man can change the course of history.
Today we went to the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Jerusalem. It is never easy seeing the pictures and reading the stories of this horrific time. I find myself getting angry and frustrated at the German people of that time for having fallen for Hitler’s regime. And yet, Hitler was a man who had a passionate vision for a defeated and depleated nation. He offered hope and a new start. In one of his speeches he said, “Nicht unseren Staat hat uns geschaffen, sondern wir schaffen unseren Staat” (Our state did not form us, we form our state). Hitler used his crafty rhetoric to make the Germans believe that better days were to soon to come. With this glimmer of hope the Germans affirmingly followed their Fuerher.
No one anticipated the horrors to follow. As Hitler became the horrible tyrant and people realized that the promised hope was never going to happen, Hitler had already change the course of history in the worst possible way. A desparate and hopeless nation clung to a man who promised what they sought, but who instead shredded and trampled every last bit of that.
I am quite surprised that this is what I am reflecting on. Of course I was affected by the Jewish narrative but the fragility of the German nation at the beginning of the war stands out. I think when I look at the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians I see a fragility that longs to be anchored in hope and reconciliation. So, if one man can become the world’s worst history changer, can not then one man change the future of this Conflict for the better?
Liel is a twenty-something year old Jewish Israeli who is passionate about the reconciliation of Palestinians and Israelis. His grandparents experienced the Holocaust, he grew up in the Jewish tradition and served his time in the IDF. On paper he could be a “common” Israeli Jew, but the moment one starts to talk to him one quickly realizes that is not the case. He has dedicated his life to peace making and both his university studies as well as his free time revolve around this. Liel has endured judgment and persecution from his friends and family and yet has not strayed from what he believes to be true. He may not be in the news every day but what he is doing is profound and beautiful. He is changing the course of history in his neighborhood, perhaps beyond.
So, what do I do with this? I want to be a history changer. I want to fight for what is right and good and just. I do not want to sit on the side lines and watch racism and injustice happen. But how? Liel gave a tangable way one can make a difference: Change starts with making conscious choices of where I buy coffee, eat out at or who I talk to. These are ways we can begin to create change in our neighborhoods and bridge the invisibile lines of segration and injustice. I can do that!!! And step by step, choice by choice change will happen. Hope may be brought to the depleated and defeated. So I say it again, one man can change the course history. Will it be Liel? Me? Or perhaps YOU?