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Jerusalem Events Raise Safety Concerns

Dear Friends, we understand that many tourists these days have concerns when traveling to the Middle East (Israel, Jordan & Egypt), as they’re not as  familiar with this part of the world. With the recent events that took place yesterday at the synagogue in Jerusalem, we understand that concerns are heightened by these events. We don’t want to make light of what happened by any means. It was a horrific terrorist act targeting Jewish believers in a place of worship.

At this time, we have quite a few church pilgrimage groups presently in Jerusalem.  I have personally been in contact with our partners in Israel, as well as with our guides. I’ve conversed with four of the pastors just today, and their groups are having an amazing trip. They didn’t even know about the events until they watched it on television or their guide shared it with them. Each pastor today said that they felt completely safe and not in harm’s way at any time. group in Jerusalem Jerusalem is a large city comprised of over 800,000 occupants. When you add tourists, the population well exceeds 1 million people which is comparable to the population of Indianapolis, IN or Austin, TX. The population of Jerusalem & Bethlehem combined is close to that of Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX. The guides receive text messages throughout the day from the local authorities, police, etc. advising them of any places to avoid. At the present time groups are visiting all the sights as listed in their brochures, including but not limited to: the Mt. of Olives, the Western Wall, the Old City, Bethlehem, and the Via Dolorosa. Some of our groups have even been able to visit the Temple Mount this week. Even though this has been in the news, it’s actually open for normal hours of operation, and all standard tourist sights are open for visits at this time. Again, we cannot make light of the situation.  However, we also need to keep in perspective that Jerusalem is still considered one of the safest cities in the world.  Tourists are not the target of terrorism.

This is not to say that something unforeseen cannot happen, but one has a much greater chance of an accident or death driving to the airport, than they do visiting Israel, Jordan, or even Egypt for that matter. We understand travelers have concerns and fears. But we also ask that each person choose for themselves what they feel they need to do in any circumstance.  Will there be more incidents in the future? Absolutely. We’re dealing with Israel, which has been in turmoil since the beginning of time. I have learned one thing in this business over the past 20+ years: we are more concerned for our groups’ safety in Israel when everything has been calm for a long time period. Then we know something is usually brewing. However when there are tensions, this is the safest time to visit Israel because security is on high alert. Very similar to the heightened precautions in America each year as we approach September 11th, we all take precautions, because we live in a world of uncertainty. But we also serve a God who is in control and still on the throne; this is where our trust lies.

Best regards, Rick Ricart, President