Today, here in Washington, Barack Obama will meet with Benjamin Netanyahu. Yesterday, we visited the excellent and moving Holocaust Museum here in Washington. From the early days of Nazism, through the rise of Hitler all the way through to the post war era, the museum shows in powerful ways what it meant to be a Jew in Hitler’s Germany.
In some of the ghettoes, Jews were separated from the rest of the population by high walls and barbed wire. Their movement was restricted, and they had to go through checkpoints and show papers to move around the city. Does that remind you of anywhere in the world today ?
Later on in the day we visited the museum of the American Indian, where we learnt about the ways of Native Americans, from Peru in the South, to Inuits in the north. Today, after many years of being oppressed and marginalised, Native Americans are speaking with a more confident voice, rediscovering their roots and ensuring that their culture survives into the future.
Early in the 19th century, European settlers encountered what they saw as an obstacle to their safety and freedom, the existence of Indian communities (who of course had been there for many centuries). President at the time, Andrew Jackson pursued a policy of moving the Indians westward, so that the settlers could live in safety.
Does that make you think of anything that has happened in the recent past (Think 1948, and Jewish Settlers forcing out Palestinian communities)
We have more in common than we realise! Whether it is in the Warsaw Ghetto, or the Indian Reservation, or the Palestinian towns separated by the wall, or the segregation experienced by the African Americans in the 20th century, we have this common history, and maybe realising this may help Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu find common ground