Who would have believed it possible that an international meeting of world leaders would converge on Jerusalem to condemn the very anti-Semitism many of their countries perpetrated just decades ago?
colorful and rare assembly of some 40 world leaders, accompanied by 500 journalists, are converging on Jerusalem this week for the fifth World Holocaust Forum, entitled “Remembering the Holocaust, Fighting Antisemitism,” which will commemorate the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz on January 27, 1945.
The visiting crowd includes kings and princes, presidents and prime ministers. When, if ever, has there been a convocation like this of rulers and top-tier officials from all over the world — and even a representative from the Vatican — for the purpose of fighting anti-Semitism, of all things, and in Jerusalem, of all places? And equally amazing is that the attendees were not deterred by fear of pushback from Israel’s enemies in the Arab world or from the propagandists whose hatred of the Jewish People is thinly masked behind “human rights” organizations.
The Polish government had initially wanted the forum to convene on its soil, somewhere near Auschwitz (and, miffed at the decision not to hold the forum there, Poland declined to participate), but apparently the organizing committee found it more meaningful to bring the world leaders together in Jerusalem. Perhaps the enthusiasm for this choice stemmed from a subconscious need on the part of the world nations to seek forgiveness and reconciliation after having stood by in silence, at best, while the Jewish People were being led to the slaughter (or at worst, gleefully lending a hand to the Nazis and profiting from the plunder).
But I believe there is much more to this pilgrimage than just a guilty conscience. Jerusalem has a halo, a mystical allure, a symbol of something transcendent, and even if these modern nations have lost most of the fervor of the pilgrims and Crusaders of the past and have largely disconnected from their faith, the image of Jerusalem as the Holy City is still alive in their collective memory. And of course, a grand meeting in Jerusalem excites their imagination much more than a grim meeting in Auschwitz.
Surely cynics will say that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu pulled off another successful public relations feat by maneuvering to have the forum in his capital, as proof that his regime has brought about a dramatic change for the better in Israel’s relations with the rest of the world.
But to focus on such petty, tangential issues is to miss the point. How can we ignore the fact that this is a rare historical moment? There are many prophecies that shed light on what is occurring in these days. For example, the Navi says, “And it shall be at the end of the days, that the mount of Hashem’s house shall be established on the mountaintops… and all the nations shall stream to it. And they shall say, ‘Come, let us go up to mount of Hashem, to the house of the G‑d of Yaakov, and let Him teach us of His ways, and we shall walk in His paths,’ for from Tzion shall Torah come forth, and the word of Hashem from Yerushalayim” (Yeshayahu 2:2-3).
We await the Final Redemption, when all the nations will converge on Jerusalem, as we read in Tzefaniah (3:9): “For then I shall turn about to the peoples a pure language, to call, all of them, on the Name of Hashem, to serve Him as a united force.”
These pesukim paint a picture for us of how humanity will look in Messianic times, how they will all come to Yerushalayim to be close to Hashem and to worship Him. Of course, even four dozen world leaders convening in Jerusalem doesn’t come near to fulfilling those glorious prophecies, but at the same time, it’s a bit like a sneak preview, a small taste of the wonderful things we will eventually witness.
It’s almost as if we can visualize the prophecy of Yeshayahu, that “nations shall go by your light and kings by the brilliance of your shine… Lift up your eyes and see, they all have gathered, they have come to you… Your sons shall come from afar” (Yeshayahu 60:3-5). This prophecy of the return of the exiles continues to be fulfilled today, when over half the world’s Jews live in Israel, which — despite its many problems, and the fact that there isn’t even a government today — is, in material terms, one of the wealthiest, most technologically advanced and sophisticated countries in the world, and the wealth of many nations flows into Israel in the form of imports, investments, and tourism.
And, as the Navi continues (verse 8), “Who are these that fly like a cloud as doves to their windows?” Does this not conjure up the planeloads of people who come to Israel by air every day, just like flocks of doves? And, the Navi goes on, “Your gates shall be open always by day and by night” — doesn’t this already describe Ben-Gurion Airport, open 24 hours for these droves of visitors?
And so, we have this preview to cling to, to give us hope. Just a few decades ago, who would have believed it possible that there would be an international meeting of world leaders like this in Jerusalem, come to stand together against the very anti-Semitism many of their countries perpetrated?
Let us hope that this shadowy preview will explode into the full, expanded prophecy heralding in the geulah sheleimah!
(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 795)
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