President Obama wrapped up his trip to Israel and the West Bank on Friday with visits to three symbolic pilgrimage sites: First he laid a stone on the grave of Theodor Herzl, the father of modern Zionism, then he laid a wreath and a stone on the grave of Yitzhak Rabin, the Israeli leader assassinated in 1995. Finally, Obama made a somber visit to the Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem.
The Jerusalem Post reports Obama wore a kippa and “rekindled an eternal flame next to a stone slab above ashes recovered from extermination camps after World War Two.”
The New York Times reports that a solemn President Obama spoke about the “obligation not just to bear witness” but to act against racism and anti-semitism.
“Our sons and daughters are not born to hate, they are taught to hate,” Obama said according to the Times. “The state of Israel does not exist because of the Holocaust but in the survival of a strong Jewish state of Israel the Holocaust will never happen again.”
Throughout his visit, Obama made it a point to highlight similarities between Israelis and Palestinians and the United States. He made that point symbolically today. The AP reports the stone Obama placed on Rabin’s grave was from the grounds of the Martin Luther King memorial in Washington.
Later today, Obama heads to Jordan where he will meet with King Abdullah II. The AP reports:
“Among the topics is Jordan’s struggle with the influx of a half-million refugees from the Syrian civil war. Abdullah has voiced fears that extremists and terrorists could create a regional base in Jordan.”
The Guardian has a piece previewing that visit. The important part is that it comes after Abdullah gave an incredibly candid interview to The Atlantic.