Eye on the Middle East Jun/Jul 1999

I was sitting on the balcony of my hotel room in Tel Aviv, Israel, a few weeks ago. It was about three in the morning, and it seemed to me that, although I couldn’t sleep, the rest of the world should be in bed. But it was not—at least not in the small speck of time and space I occupied at that moment. I didn’t regret my inability to slip off into a dreamless few hours of sleep. The night was quiet, broken only by the sounds of late night traffic on the street below and the breaking of waves from the Mediterranean washing the sands of the beach across the way.

Between the water and the street in front of the hotel was a strip of sand that had been turned into a lovely playground for children. As I looked down, I was astonished to see a group of youngsters swinging happily from the various formations of wood and metal that shaped the playground equipment. Astonished because, after all, I was in Israel, a place many of my friends avoid for fear of meeting a wretched and violent end.

As I sat there, I wondered why kids would be out on the beach at that time of the night. That thought was pushed aside by another: How many children in any U.S. city of more than one million people would dare or be allowed to be out that late?

Two things came to mind. Even though Israel exists in a neighborhood generally regarded as less than peaceful, things are not nearly as volatile as we are led to believe. People—Arabs and Jews—go about their daily routines in ways quite comparable to those in big city and small town America. People from the Western world should, therefore, not fear to visit the country and personally show their support for the people of Israel.

Then, there is something about looking out across the waters of the beautiful Mediterranean as the swells softly rise and fall with a sort of melodious quality. The thought is of another day that will surely come—we trust soon. It will be a time when there will be true peace throughout all the land, and “the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea” (Hab 2:14).

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