“Will I be safe if I travel to Israel?” It’s a fair question and people ask me this all the time when they inquire about my trips I lead. How we hear and see the “news” reported from the Middle East can certainly give the impression that any tourist or student of the Bible who travels to Israel takes his/her life into their own hands. While I can understand the deep and honest concern for safety the news can generate in us, nothing can be further from the truth. Indeed, it is safe to travel to Israel. If it wasn’t, as a husband and father, I won’t be planning on leading 10 trips over the next 16 months!
How is used “to work” during the years of the Intafada (early 2,000s) was this: Palestinians (kids usually) would plan a stone-throwing event at a certain time, let’s say 3:00 p.m. Once planned with a specific target at a specific location, they would literally inform CNN of the event, and made sure they were there to broadcast it around the world. Day after day this took place. When CNN would record enough footage and pack up and leave at 3:15, guess what happened to the Palestinian stone-throwers? They dropped their rocks and left the premises themselves, for there was no longer “world coverage” to support their cause. While Israelis lost their lives as a result of store and bus bombings as a result of Palestinian terrorism during those dreadful years, much of the daily violence one would see recorded live were simply staged in many situations. Thank goodness that with the building of the security fence, Israel now enjoys a normal life of peace and safety from the terrorism methods of past years.
Despite what is reported and seen back here in the States on the news (usually sensationalize hype), for the tourist today, traveling anywhere in Israel is safe. A record number of tourists each day traverse Israel from the south to the north without incident. There are no longer any bus bombings and no stone throwing. Ultra Orthodox Jews walk daily through the Damascus Gate through the heart of the Muslim Quarter of the Old City without issues of safety. As a group, we walk anywhere for our after-dinner walks in Jerusalem without needing to look over our shoulder. Literally during any given week, our agency (imagine Tours & Travel) has groups touring Israel, each of them returning home with glowing reports of safe and fearless environment. Statistics tell the truth… it’s safer to be in Israel than it is driving a car here in the States.
When we travel to Israel, we encounter both kind and friendly Palestinians and Israelis alike. For example, our bus drivers are always Palestinian Arabs, while our guides are Jewish. To see both driver and guide get along is indicative of normal life in Israel. Personally, I have good Arab friends in Bethlehem who I enjoy visiting with every trip.
My next trips to Israel are planned for April, May, June, July, October, and November. I am not anticipating any issues of safety to arise. While the present political tensions between Israel and their neighbors to the south and north will no doubt continue to make the news, this is not deterring any of our plans in any way.
So for anyone considering traveling to Israel, may I kindly suggest to not let yourself be intimidated by the news coming from the Middle East. Most importantly, God is in control, and His sovereign hand rests upon us whether we are here in the States or somewhere in Israel. Entrusting every tour in God’s hands leads to a life-transforming experience for all!