Inside View Mar/Apr 2016
One of my responsibilities as executive director of The Friends of Israel is to lead our Up to Jerusalem tours to Israel. It’s something I enjoy immensely. I’m often asked, “Isn’t it dangerous to travel to Israel?”
I understand why people ask. They hear about Palestinian-Arab terrorists knifing Israelis, ramming cars into people waiting for a train or bus, and shooting bystanders in public venues. The worst is when a suicide bomber strikes.
These tragedies do occur; and for those who are caught in them, they are a nightmare. That point was brought home to me when an Arab bludgeoned the wife of one of my Jewish friends in November while she was standing at the Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem. The blow knocked her unconscious. Fortunately, she survived with only bruises and cuts.
Violence in Israel does not touch most Israelis, and it rarely affects tourists. We usually hear our tour participants say, “I feel very safe in Israel!” Personally, I feel more threatened in Philadelphia, New York City, or Washington, DC.
A little-known fact is that violent crime in Israel is low compared to other developed nations. A 2012 United Nations Office On Drug and Crime global study showed Israel has one of the lowest murder rates in the world. While violent crime makes headlines, unreported are the country’s amazing achievements. A recent article by Judith Bergman in Israel Hayom reported that little Israel was ranked 18th out of 188 countries on the United Nations 2015 Human Development Index (HDI).1
The HDI noted that in Israel, between 1980 and 2014,
- Life expectancy increased from 74.1 years to 82.4 years.
- Average years of schooling grew from 9.8 years to 12.5 years.
- Expected years of schooling grew from 12.6 years to 16 years.
- Gross National Income per capita increased by 112 percent, from $14,498 to $30,676.
In some areas, Israel surpassed the very high group: the top 10 countries on the Human Development Index. Israel has the highest labor force participation rate: 63.4 percent, compared to 60.3 percent in the very high group. Israel also has the lowest youth unemployment rate: 10.5 percent, versus 18 percent for the very high group.
It is ironic that the United Nations, which continually criticizes Israel, authored this report testifying to the remarkable progress the country has made in 68 short years.
When you consider that Israel began in 1948 with nothing but a determination to rise from the ashes and become a nation again, it’s amazing to see its success. Israel isn’t perfect. But God’s blessing on this little country is undeniable. It is the “apple of His eye” (Zech. 2:8).
If you allow fear to keep you from visiting the Jewish state, you’ll miss out on experiencing the wonderful story that is modern Israel. And you’ll miss the sites you read about in the Bible, particularly the incomparable city of Jerusalem, where our Savior took our place on the cross and became our redemption.
Israel is safer than many places in the United States, and it’s like no other nation in the world because it’s the land of the Bible.
If you have never visited Israel, or if you would like to visit again, I invite you to come with me “up to Jerusalem.” You can find more information about our tours on our website, www.foi.org, or by calling our headquarters toll-free at 800–257–7843.
- Judith Bergman, “A Reason to Celebrate,” December 30, 2015 <tinyurl.com/jeosglb>.