April 16th, 2015
My first visit to Israel was two years ago where I was thrilled to meet many other visitors from places I’d never been in Europe and Asia. Fortunately, good manners among the young have declined so I was able to hear their sincere views about Jews in general. The advantage was our ability to speak honestly about their misconceptions. Some Chinese business majors held the opinion that Jews had all the money; Russian youth professed the view that Jews owned the US Federal Reserve bank; still more wanted to know about ‘Jewish occupation’.
I generally laughed and began our talks by saying I must have misplaced my savings passbook (really, we were meeting in $25 per night hostels) and that the Federal Reserve ‘heads’ were appointed by the US government. It was most disturbing to hear college students who’d never taken a course in Jewish history talk about occupations. Students do not get credit for being admitted to institutions of higher learning but gain both credit and credibility from finishing classes in their areas of interest.
Had they taken classes in this subject matter, presently consuming a great deal of campus time, they would learn that Israel did not begin with the modern efforts of Ben Gurion in 1948. The Herut party formed in 1948 by Menachem Begin means ‘Freedom’ and happens to be a word engraved on coins (Herut Zion) minted in Jerusalem back in the days of the Roman Empire. Coins issued by the nation of Israel at that time were called shekels and prutah.
Among the signs of life for nations of the world is the ability to issue money. Jews have lived here throughout the ages and re-issued coins by the same names in 1948. Our identities remained unchanged. Knesset (parliament) minister Naftali Bennet spoke to this issue in this CNN interview.
There are few better learning opportunities than travel and Israel offers a wealth of history and heritage for view. However, you will pay for your stay using coins of the realm and those are of very old vintage indeed.