A thousand Jews and Christians marched togetherthis week throughout the streets of Berlin under the motto "From the Heart and on Foot: for Peace, against Antisemitism.”
The march, which took place only days before the official March of the Living, was organized by the Christian organization March of Life. Knesset Member Ruth Wasserman-Lande, a member of the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus, delivered the keynote address at the march.
“We are in the midst of an alarming rise in antisemitism worldwide,” Wasserman-Lande said. “Violent incidents against Jews, just because they are Jews, are becoming common on the streets of New York, Lost Angeles, Paris and Berlin.”
She highlighted how only several days prior, in a demonstration carried out in Berlin, citizens took the street calling for the destruction of the Jewish State.
“Only 74 years ago, on this very soil, an idea was concocted, to eliminate the Jewish people from the face of the earth,” Wasserman-Lande added. “To remain silent in response to this is to encourage antisemitism and hatred.”
Her message was underscored by a statistic recently released by the World Jewish Congress, which found that one in three Germans under 25 harbors antisemitic views.
Participants waved Israeli flags and chanted, “never again.” They also held huge banners with phrases like, “say no to antisemitism” and “never means never.”
Prior to the march, Lande met with Bundestag Member MP Frank Muller Rosenritt.
The organization was founded by Jobst and Charlotte Bittner from Tübingen and began with a memorial march from the Swabian Alb to Dachau. The organization “aims to give Holocaust survivors a voice, facilitate reconciliation between the descendants of perpetrators and victims, and send a clear signal against modern antisemitism and in support of Israel,” a release explained.
“I feel more than ever an urgency to become active against antisemitism, especially because of the pandemic and the war in the Ukraine,” said March of Life President Jobst Bittner. “Education and awareness are important, but only those who allow the truth about the past of their own family or environment to pierce their own hearts and who speak about it personally and become active can change something and move hearts.”
This year, the March of Life took place in coordination with the International March of the Living, some of whose delegates from all over the world joined the March of Life in Berlin.
Lande said that the Christian marchers are religious Christians who are willing to be “frank with their past, to look at the fact that their grandparents or someone in their families was either killing Jews or helping someone kill Jews or something terrible like that and they speak about it - out loud. It is truly an unbelievable process.
“I was told that after the process these people undergo in terms of really facing the truth, this almost immediately creates an affinity for fighting antisemitism because they are shocked,” she continued. “They feel very dedicated to fighting bigotry and hatred.”
She added that one of the biggest challenges today is engaging young Christians in support of Israel and that the organization is doing just that.
“My late grandmother, Tamara, and her family were living in Vilnius when the war broke out,” Wasserman-Lande shared in Germany. “They all ran away to central Asia and were lucky enough to survive. My grandfather Noah Lande’s family was not so lucky. He managed to escape, but his entire family was murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators amidst the Lithuanian nation. My husband’s grandfather, Zvi Wasserman, received a scholarship to study in Palestine at the time, and left Poland during the 1930’s. His entire family of 8 brothers and sisters, parents, grandparents, perished in the gas chambers.
“For all of them I call upon you my friends, and all sane citizens of the earth, let us not allow such horrors to happen again,” she said. “Let us never remain silent and indifferent to injustices and bigotry. Let us fight hateful and misguiding narratives about Jews and Israel which have nothing to do with Truth but everything to do with hatred.”
She added that Israel “must continually work in partnership with the faith leaders and political representatives in order to stem the tide of antisemitism and strengthen support for Israel at the grassroots and political levels.”
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