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
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
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.
I saw a once barren land – a land once described by Mark Twain as “a desolate
country…. a silent and mournful expanse” - now fruitful and ripe. Everything the
Israelis have touched seems to have come alive and then some.
You see the result of the relationship of a land that uniquely goes with a
people and the people that uniquely goes with that land, and you think of the
Song of Songs: “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine: he browses among the
I saw the great hope of my scriptures come alive right before my eyes, and I was
left exuberant and confident that the God of truth and justice is still speaking
In the words of the Psalmist: “When the Lord brings about the return to Zion we
will have been like dreamers…. Then they will say among the nations, The Lord
has done great things for them, The Lord has done great things for us. We will
Yes, I pray that when the president of the United States lands in Israel, for
his first time, that he sees what I saw.
Star Parker is founder and president of CURE, the Center for Urban Renewal
and Education, a 501c3 think tank which explores and promotes market based
public policy to fight poverty, as well as author of the newly revised Uncle
Sam's Plantation: How Big Government Enslaves America's Poor and What We Can do