When people ask me if I am ever scared when I travel to Israel and other surrounding countries, the answer is always “No.” Even when I returned from this most recent trip (Nov, 3-17), with the IDF gathered at the border of Gaza awaiting orders, still, the answer is the same … “No.” It’s so hard to convince people though, even though it’s you who are there, and it’s them who only filter their perspectives by what they watch on TV and the internet. It’s really a shame how much control the media has in forming and shaping public opinion, including the perspective of “safety” for tourists to Israel.
Just the other day, my tour agency president of imagine Tours & Travel, Rick Ricart, just emailed me his perspective from Israel. He and a number of iTT groups are there now (yes, believe it or not), and Rick and each of our groups are reporting the same thing … it’s safe to be in Israel. This is what Rick said from Israel:
“Dear Friends, I’m writing you from Jerusalem, as I have now been in Israel the last three days and can confirm from first-hand experience the “real atmosphere” on the ground. I even visited Jericho today and have spent time in Tel Aviv, Jaffa (Joppa), the Dead Sea and Masada, En Gedi, Qumran, included a visit to the new baptismal site near Jericho and now I’m in Jerusalem and will be here for the next five days. Not once have I looked over my should or felt any uneasiness. To the contrary, everyone we have come in contact with has been warm, kind and appreciative for our visit at this time to show our solidarity with Israel.
We have four groups in Israel this week and we also just had four groups that returned back home this past week, as they where in Israel when the rockets were being fired into Israel from Gaza by Hamas. In speaking with each of the your leaders/pastors not one time did any of them feel unsafe or in harms way. I will continue to send you updates later in the week and you are welcome to visit our Facebook page to see daily updates and pictures.”
As I always say to people, “It’s still safer in Israel than it is driving your car anywhere in the U.S.”
So if any of you are apprehensive about traveling with me in 2013 and beyond, I hope these are calming words.
My next Israel trip is April, 2013, a 11 Day Israel program, followed by an optional tour of Jordan and southern Israel.