Monday, June 4, 2007

Cognitive Dissonance!

May 14th, 2007

We made it to Yad Vashem, the Israeli Holocaust Museum, this morning via bus in Jerusalem. I've seen photos of the eternal flame of this Holocaust Museum, and was eager to see what was the story of this place.

When entering the entrance hall, I came to see how nationalism and religion can mix together from a totally different perspective than that of the States and Christianity. The various halls of Yad Vashem in the display area were filled with tourists as well as school groups. Young and old, able-bodied and disabled, jostled to see the evidence of the atrocity that were committed in Hitler's Germany.

The displays were overwhelming. It felt like someone took an attic full of memorabilia and threw it around a small room. From floor to ceiling there was plenty of evidence of what had happened: photos, brick-a-brack, newsreel photos, books, posters, all capturing the horrors of Nazi Germany. By the time we left, we were exhausted by the display.

But what stood out were the walls around the ghettos of Warsaw and other cities, and the walls of the concentration camps, which resembled the walls around the Palestinian enclaves of Israel. I struggle with the cognitive dissonance, in which the ones who were once victims were now the victimizers of others.

After lunch, we went to the Israel Museum. The display of the city of Jerusalem, circa the first century A.D. was powerful. The art in the Museum was gorgeous: impressionists like Corot and Monet, along with the modern art of Picasso and Mondrian, near a collection of the baroque art of Europe, and a Rembrandt thrown in for good measure. Beautiful!

That night we found ourselves on Jaffa St., near Ben Yehuda St., which was like a big down-town mall. We ate dinner this night in this part of west Jerusalem. It is here that we were frisked when entering a restaurant, and there was no Palestinian beer on the menu. Welcome to the divided city of a divided people!

Pilgrim peace, Brett