Is it Safe to Go to the Holy Land?
September 22, 2014
If any of you have told many friends and family that you are thinking of going to the Holy Land, you probably have been told "you've got to be crazy!"
If anyone followed the TV news about the strife in Gaza over the summer, this reaction is quite understandable.
But the truth is, you are not crazy at all to go on a Holy Land pilgrimage this year, or just about anytime. In fact, you are generally safer on a Christian pilgrimage in Israel, even when bombs are falling in Gaza, than you are in most major American cities. The media focuses attention on violence in the Middle East in a way that distorts our perception of reality.
For example, over Fourth of July weekend, there were over fifty shootings in Chicago with 14 fatalities. Did you see a news report on this with footage of blood and body bags? Probably not. By way of contrast, Gaza's month long fusillade of missiles damaged some property in Israel and took the lives of three Israelis all of whom lived near the Gaza border.
My assertion that Israel is safer than the US, even in the midst of strife, I tell you from personal experience. I have taken twelve groups to the Holy Land since 1999 and have been there when there were all kinds of things going on that would scare you to death if you watched TV news. In fact, I landed with a group of 92 pilgrims in Tel Aviv on the very day that Israel launched the last major attack on Gaza in late December 2008. We were there while Hamas shot rockets into Israel and when Israeli troops invaded Gaza. The suffering then, as now, was great in Gaza. And it was not safe to be within 12 miles or so of the Gaza border.
But as for us -- we never would have known a thing was happening had it not been for frantic phone calls from relatives in the US wondering if we were OK. Fortunately, we not watching the news, unlike family members back home. In Jerusalem, Galilee, Mt Carmel, all the areas of a typical pilgrimage, things went on completely as normal. No tension, no air raid sirens, no lights in the sky or noise of war. Gaza and the Israeli cities near it are the territory of the ancient Philistines. Even in the best of times, they would hold no interest for us as Christian pilgrims, so we'd never go anywhere remotely near there. We know where NOT to go.
The Israelis have pulled their troops out of Gaza and a truce has held for several weeks now. It was extremely safe to be within Israel's borders before the current flare-up. With tunnels and much of Hamas' armaments destroyed, it will be safer than ever in coming weeks and months.
The last time it was truly too dangerous to travel to Israel for a pilgrimage was during the Yom Kippur war of 1973. There has been sporadic violence since then, especially on the Gaza border. But it has never threatened pilgrims or been a cause for canceling a pilgrimage.
Passengers need to know that, in the unlikely event that strife breaks out that is severe enough to threaten pilgrims, the trip will be canceled and everyone refunded, regardless of whether they have purchased trip insurance. BTW, I still recommend trip insurance since a medical emergency or an unexpected death in the family, etc. either during or just before the trip would be taken care of totally in this way.
I mentioned the violence in Chicago earlier. Would I go to Chicago? Of course! I spent two wonderful days there this summer. I just know, as most Chicago citizens know, the places NOT to go.
Desire to come to the Holy Land but not sure this is the right time? Don't wait till "things calm down." Things may never "calm down" totally in the Middle East. You'd be waiting forever. Don't let fear rob you of what will be, should you go with us to the Holy Land, one of the greatest experiences of your life.
Yours in Christ,
Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio
P.S. If anyone would like to call Sam Hanania at the offices of
Consolidated Tour Organization (CTO) feel free to call him 9-4 Eastern time
at (800) 554-4556
Patricia D'Ambrosio talks about her experience on the Holy Land Pilgrimage with her family!
Do you have questions about safety in the Holy Land?
What was it like traveling with people of all ages?