By Mike Puia
SOLOMON Islanders don’t need visa to enter Israel. I did not mention this during the first part of this series which was published last Wednesday.
So, our first day in Israel was 17th June 2018.
We woke up to a bright Sunday morning in Jerusalem. Jerusalem is the most populated city in Israel. It’s one of the oldest cities in the world considered holy to the three major Abrahamic religions- Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
This city keeps renovate every day. Old structures are seen demolished and new ones going up.
Sunday is the first working day of the week which means every businesses and offices opened for business.
In our schedule, our first visit was to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
As soon as all of us, media practitioners from the pacific who were invited to Israel by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, are all set at the lobby we boarded our bus that was waiting outside the Leonardo Plaza hotel, our accommodation in Jerusalem for the next two days.
Our guide was Rony Geven. Geven was the person we were introduced to on arrival at Ben Gurion International Airport.
Jerusalem is so calm in the morning. Flowers bloom everywhere, outside the hotel and along the street. It almost looks like fake flowers but they are real. Flowers are colourful and pruned in order everywhere you turn to.
On arrival at the Ministry, we went through security check before we proceed to our meeting with the Director General of the Ministry, Ambassador Yuval Rotem.
Ambassador Rotem talks about many things including Israel’s history and commitment to the pacific. He took questions after.
After the informative session with Ambassador Rotem, we moved to another room within the Ministry where we had sessions with Mrs Sarit Young of the Centre for policy research and Ambassador Gil Haskel, head of MASHAV- Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Mrs Young talked about the threat posed by Iran while Ambassador Haskel talked about the Israel’s aid program and areas Israel can be of helpful to pacific nations.
After lunch we visited the Yad Vashem, the world’s holocaust remembrance centre on the western slope of Mount Herzl. Yad Vashem is Israel’s official memorial to the victims of the Holocaust. It is dedicated to preserving the memory of the dead.
Important visiting dignitaries to Israel are given a tour to this site.
The centre honor Jews who fought against their Nazi oppressors and gentiles who aided Jews in need and researching the phenomenon of the Holocaust in particular and genocide in general with the aim of avoiding such events in the future.
Yad Vashem, which was established in 1953, is known as the Mount of Remembrance, sitting in a height in western Jerusalem.
The memorial consists of a 180-dunam complex containing the Holocaust History Museum, memorial sites such as the Children’s Memorial and the Hall of Remembrance, the Museum of Holocaust art, sculptures and outdoor commemorative sites such as the Valley of the Communities, a synagogue, a research institute with archives, a library, a publishing house and an educational center, the International Institute for Holocaust Studies.
Young recruits to the Israeli army also come through Holocaust Studies.
Those recognized by Israel as Righteous Among the Nations are honored in a section of Yad Vashem known as the Garden of the Righteous Among the Nations.
Yad Vashem is the second most visited site in Israel after the Western Wall with around one million visitors each year.
The museum offers a window to what the Jews people experience 79 years ago. One can see family photos retrieved from bodies of Jews who were murdered still intact and are now displayed in the museum. There is a section in the museum where a huge pile of shoes of people who were killed in concentration camps is kept.
In the evening after a tiring and emotional first day, we had dinner with Israeli Ambassador to the pacific, Ambassador Tibor Shalev Schlosser, who talks about the importance of education and culture and elaborate on Israel’s trainings programs and expertise pacific nations can take advantage of.
Ambassador Schlosser said people from across the globe should consider visiting Israel without fear as their people are their brothers and sisters.
He added they hope to receive more professionals from the pacific be to study in their learning institutes or to gain practical knowledge in any field.