On a sunny spring day about 500 persons gathered at the Theater Plaza in Basle. This meeting had historic meaning not only because of the march itself but also because it took place 120 years after the first Zionist Congress and nearly 70 years after the nation of Israel was founded.
I was very touched to stand there as a sign of friendship and solidarity with Israel. Christoph Meister greeted the group and then gave Jobst Bittner – the initiator of the „March of Life Movement“ – the microphone.
One sentence of Jobst Bittner buried itself deeply in my heart. „Future needs a past, even if it is painful.“
Yes, Israel has a painful past and God’s history with the chosen people is still full of much pain and suffering. We as the nation of Switzerland have also been guilty toward God’s chosen people. The three stations on the march were examples of this and again touched me deeply. For example, the Jewish population of Basle was repeatedly financially exploited or they were refused residency in the city for many years.
On the Rhine shore we held an act of repentance for this guilt toward the Jewish people.
Various speakers brought greetings and expressed joy over the solidarity and friendship with Israel. Among them was the Israeli ambassador in Switzerland, Jakob Keidar. The life story of S. Ehrlich, a survivor of the Warsaw ghetto, was also moving.
I remember also the words of Lukas Kundert, president of the cantonal church council. He said that many people, including even Christians, say „Yes, but…“ in regard to Israel. He repeatedly stated, „That makes the Yes invalid!“ With this he referred to Matt. 5:37, „Simply let your ‚Yes‘ be ‚Yes‘ and your ‚No,‘ ‚No‘.“
It is important that we wholeheartedly stand by Israel because God always stands by his chosen people. This march in Basle was thus a clear Yes for Israel but a full No to forgetting and anti-Semitism. This is like the banner which preceded the group through Basle. On in stood „Remember – Reconcile – We set a sign of friendship for Israel“.
Photos: Michel Pickmann, IWS