Thousands of Christians took part in the “March of the Nations” in Jerusalem this week. The procession concluded with a rally in Safra Square near Jerusalem’s Old City.
The first March of the Nations was held in Jerusalem five years ago (2018) to mark the 70th anniversary of the State of Israel.
Ahead of this year’s event, Israeli President Isaac Herzog met with a delegation of organizers on Tuesday, including the founder and president of the international March of Life movement, Jobst Bittner. “Your presence demonstrates your unwavering moral support for our nation-state and its people. The State of Israel welcomes you with open arms,” Herzog had previously stated in a letter of support.
Israel Today had a chance to interview Bittner and other Christian leaders taking part in this wonderful movement. Stay tuned for those reports!
Bittner’s ministry headquarters is in Tübingen, Germany. The southwestern German university town served as the training ground for the Einsatzgruppen, the SS death squads that murdered 700,000 Jews, primarily by shooting, during the Holocaust.
Joined by the descendants of German Wehrmacht soldiers and members of the SS and police force, March of Life have organized memorial and reconciliation marches at Holocaust sites all over Europe. Founded in 2007, March of Life has spread to more than 20 nations and 500 cities around the world.
“As descendants of Nazi perpetrators it is not enough to say ‘never again,’” Bittner told JNS in an interview from Germany earlier this year. “We have to be responsible to do something and are calling on people to speak out against antisemitism and to stand with Israel.”
Bittner, whose father was an officer in the Wehrmacht’s Afrika Corps during the Second World War, has been honored by Israel for his staunch support for the Jewish state. He calls the founding of Israel one of the greatest miracles of our time.
Tuesday’s event drew well over a thousand participants from around the world who marched from Sacher Park to Safra Square in front of Jerusalem City Hall. They were addressed by a variety of speakers, including Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Fleur Hassan-Nahoum, Jewish Agency President Doron Almog, and March of Life founder Bittner.
“It is something special for us to be Jerusalem in this crucial time. Our motto of the March of Life is: ‘Israel you are not alone,’ and we pray for the peace of Jerusalem. We expect many participants and are thankful to stand alongside Israel,” said Bittner.
The march was led by Odessa-born Holocaust survivor Arie Itamar, who arrived in Israel on the Exodus as a seven-year-old, and the theme was “Mi Shoah le Tkuma—from the Holocaust to New Life.”
Participant Carolin Klein was proud to be among the marchers.
“I am here with the March of Nations because I love Israel, and we come from many nations to really stand with Israel, especially at times of attacks. I am from Germany, and about 40 percent of the young people do not know what Auschwitz was, so I want to talk about what happened in the Second World War. Mostly all families were part of the Nazi regime during that time. I found out many of my forefathers were Nazis, too, and I want to make a clear statement that with my generation we really want to stand with Israel. We love Israel and we will speak up against antisemitism when we see it.”
Additional marches took place on Wednesday in various cities across Israel including Metula, Tiberias, Zichron Yaakov, Netanya, Ashkelon, Beersheva and Merhavim. Participants had the opportunity to meet with Holocaust survivors, students and soldiers.
With reporting by JNS.
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