“…Yes, But Is It Safe?”
If you have traveled to Israel or are planning to soon go, you have undoubtedly been asked this question. Well meaning friends or family often say something like “…but isn’t there terrorism and violence? Maybe now isn’t such a good time to go…” These questions are often asked with the best of intentions but communicate a lack of understanding, an influence from western sensationalistic media and usually come with half a tablespoon of “wisdom” that often tastes more like fear. As someone who travels to Israel frequently, allow me to suggest a few things to share with our concerned loved ones who often fit the following categories:
· To the emotional family member: Yes, it is safe. If you are going with a group, the tour company and guide will have their finger on the pulse of the latest news, people, and events in the land. For them, bad tour experiences equal bad business. You can rest assured your bus driver will not drive into Palestinian headquarters in Ramallah on Friday afternoon as Muslim men are leaving the mosques. Guaranteed.
· To the obsessive news watcher: Yes, it is safe. Please turn off the TV and stop reading internet articles about Israel that have “you won’t believe what happened next!” in the title. Not everything you see or read online is true. No news outlet is reporting on the communities where Arabs and Jews live and work together and get along. Communities like this are all over Israel.
· To the Bible thumper: Yes, it is safe. Please read your bible- fear is bad. We are to serve our brothers and sisters in the Lord and are indebted to minister to Israel in practical ways (Romans 15:25-27). We live in a time where the bible is coming to pass and much of it has to do with Israel returning to the land; this is not a time to shrink back but to go! While things can sometimes happen, God is more than able to keep those that He loves safe in His City. The believing communities in Israel can testify to this fact.
· To someone who may listen to reason: Yes, it is safe. Every major city has places that it’s best not to go at night; so do cities in Israel. That said, every Israeli man and woman go thru military training for at least 2 years. This means that everyone from the “mall cop” to guy waiting for the taxi to your waiter knows how to handle a weapon, is able to detect potential threats and how to respond. There have been countless crimes and attacks that were stopped by Israeli citizens and were never reported. Israelis watch out for each other.
· To the facts quoter: Strictly going by the per capita numbers, Israel is a safer nation then the US. Major US cities that we live in or visit regularly have 5-10x the rate of violent crime than Jerusalem or Tel Aviv. To have a look at your city’s crime compared to a city in Israel check out this website. While this website is based on user contributed data and not incident related data, it does show people’s perception about life in Israel vs the US. And this is exactly where the “is it safe?” question is asked from- that person’s perception.
· To Mom: Yes, Mom, it is safe. Unfortunately if she is like many mothers that are completely blinded by their love for their child, she may be unable to disconnect her emotions, listen to reason, facts or even the Bible. For this one, you are on your own. Give her a long hug, send her daily pics and buy her something in the Old City. Knowing Mom, she’ll forgive you.
Israel is Real,