The Middle East is a high profile place. Whether it’s nations who are interested because of the oil, religions that are interested because of historical or future events, humanitarians who are interested because of the many struggling people, television agencies who are interested in hyping “dire news”… everyone is interested in what happens here. Amazingly, with the millions of people looking at Israel, the reality of the situation here often does not come to light!
Whether or not you come to Israel we’d like you to know a few things about the Holy Land.
- Israel is multi-cultural. There are two official languages in Israel: Hebrew and Arabic.
- Israel is democratic . There are Jews and Arabs who serve in the Israeli Parliament, Supreme Court, and even the national soccer teams!
- Millions of Arabs and Jews peacefully interact every day in thousands of locations with mutual respect and friendship. You will almost certainly interact with both Jews and Arabs in hotels you sleep, buses you ride on, shops you purchase from, and in sites you visit.
- Israel may be considered to be relatively safe in a Middle East that at times can be tumultuous but even if Israel’s neighbors were sophisticated European countries, Israel would be one of the safest countries compared to neighbors like England, Germany, Finland, and France!
It is important to note that the rhetoric from the leaders of countries (Israel included) is often just that – rhetoric. Oftentimes, the words are spoken for a specific desired effect not necessarily because the statement itself is as serious as it appears. For example, Israel Prime Minister Netanyahu has spoken of Iran in the most dire and forceful of terms but other than a couple computer viruses, Israel has taken no military action in this heated battle of rhetoric. If we were to respond to every intense statement the Prime Minister says then tens of thousands of people who have enjoyed Israel this past year in utter calm would have missed the spiritual fulfillment they received. Similarly, America would have bowed to the Russians if they had believed the rhetoric coming from Moscow back in the Cold War. We all know how much reality was behind that talk!
If a conflict does develop, then of course we do not want any of our tour members even close to danger.