Just yesterday I took a bike ride to the spot of the terror attack that took place in Jaffa a few months ago –– and which took an American tourist’s life. It’s just down the street from where I live and my kids were getting ready for bed when it happened: A young, non-Jewish, American man had come to Israel to learn about Startup Nation. He was going to the deaf-blind theatre Nalagaat moments before he was struck down. On my bike ride past where he was slain I thought about contacting his parents. Did they want a memorial? Could I place flowers, or the traditional Jewish stones in his memory?
Then I thought again. The biggest offering that his memory can serve is that life goes on here at the Jaffa Port. The oldest continually living port in history. On that balmy May evening there were plenty of locals and tourists at the hipster venue The Container bar, drinking beer, eating fish. The local Arab fish restaurants like the Old Man and the Sea were slammed with customers. Like a fairytale setting, with boats, fine dining, starlight, Jaffa was its magical self.
So if you are wondering about getting out to an exotic location… if you love to travel and enjoy meeting new cultures, come to Israel. It’s a great bucket list destination. Is it risky? Maybe I should go to Costa Rica instead?
Yeah, I think like this too. I come from a sleepy bedroom town in Canada and I have made Israel my home so that exotic and exciting can be my way of life. Yes, it’s a bummer when we find knife-wielding maniacs trying to stifle the calm and peace we have with our Arab, Jewish and Christian neighbors. But coming here can be part of the solution. And it’s safer likely than any American town or city.
I spent half a year in NYC last year and encountered plenty of crazy on the streets. I read about murders that happened near me. Last month, a surge in stabbings in NYC was reported in the news with about 800 stabbings in 3 months. How does that compare to some isolated acts of terror in Israel? The reporter of the article explored how an Israeli tourist was stabbed while waiting in the subway in New York. What Karma.
I was curious to look at the crime statistics of Israel and the US and compare. Every piece of data I could find showed significantly lower rates per capita in Israel.
So yes, something could happen to you when you come to the beautiful Near East area of the Levante and Israel, but statistically bad things are more likely to happen on the streets of NY or LA or in your American home town.
Back in October of 2015 Israel experienced several terrorist attacks against Israeli police and military personnel in Jerusalem, and this global anxiety lingers to this day. One could assume that these events would destroy Israel’s peak tourism season – but they were wrong. People are coming in droves, especially as the temperatures start to rise.
Oh, delicious May.
When I searched around it’s hard to find an available hotel room in Jerusalem due to the high number of tourists visiting the country this summer. Last week I went to the Sea of Galilee and on the lake, everything was booked. While headlines may appear alarming, the reality is that life in Israel is alarmingly calm!
With 3.1 million visitors each year, 800,000 of which are Americans, the stats prove that tourism to Israel is going strong. Impressive for a country that about the size of New Jersey.
Tour operators to Israel from America I interviewed, have not experienced a significant number of cancellations they say. The opposite, in fact. Spirituality is actually a growing reason to travel to Israel, for all faiths. And I get it.
Consider that Jaffa, and Israel at large is the cradle of the world’s three monotheistic faiths, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Jaffa used to be the natural entry point for all faiths on pilgrimage to here. Naturally this place has adapted well to tourism. Any tourist guide here needs a license to operate (I can suggest a few if you need some ideas) and they are trained and equipped to make you feel safe and sound. People land worried, and leave inspired.
So don’t feel anxious about your friends on Facebook saying that you should stay safe and not travel to Israel. I live here and love everything Israel has to offer – from the rich and impressive history of the Old City Jerusalem, to the stunning beaches of Tel Aviv, all the way to floating in the healing water of the Dead Sea. Did I mention the food, music festivals, activities for kids? If you are into business, work and play, there Israel is startup nation. There is no end to conferences, events, meetups and expos in any flavor. I am part of that world.
Come to Jaffa and see just one sunset and then know what I mean. Erase the bad stuff you hear.
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