Will We Be Safe in the Holy Land?
CEO Update 11-15-12
CEO Update 09-28-12
Will I be safe on this trip?
No one can totally guarantee safety... not your church, your community, your doctor or dentist. However, we can say that you will be as safe on your journey to the Land of the Bible as on a similar length trip to New York City or Washington DC.
How can ETS make this claim?
Here are the reasons we can make this claim:
1) Security on planes bound for the Middle East is much more strict than security on flights within the USA (domestic).
2) Security within Israel and Palestine is much more strict than within the USA.
3) The crime rate in Israel and Palestine is much lower than the typical US city, including your home town!
(In one year, LA County had over 2000 violent deaths while Israel had less than 400.).
4) It is a small place... just 50 miles wide and 150 miles long.
It is easy for our office to keep a watchful eye on situations in various regions of Israel and Palestine.
5) Since our first Holy Land trip, more than 35 years ago, we have not had a major incident.
6) To our knowledge, no Christian Pilgrim from the USA has been killed in Israel during the last 45 years.
Much of the news you hear or read about
concerns events in Gaza
and remote areas of the West Bank.
With the exception of Bethlehem,
the majority of tourists in the Holy Land
rarely visit the West Bank or Gaza.
Tourism Increasing in the Holy Land
• Israel has reported record numbers of tourist in 2007 and 2008.
This increase reflects the perception that safety is not a problem for travelers to Israel.
• ETS has had double the number of passengers traveling to the Holy Land in 2009 than the year before. And passengers continue to travel in 2010.
Click here to view their photos
What safety precautions does ETS take?
1) We have a full-time office in Jerusalem staffed by local people who know the area well because they live and work there
2) You will ride aboard a private bus company
• These are Tourist Motorcoaches, not the public busses which locals use and which are occasionally targeted
• Only our passengers and staff are allowed to board our busses
• All of our busses stay in contact with our office and the bus company via cell phone
Will we be going into the West Bank?
Yes, but only certain areas. Just like most towns, there are places where you would not ever go and other places you would avoid after dark. The West Bank is the same. Most areas are just fine. Other areas we will never enter. Still others, we will avoid during certain time periods.
Where exactly will we be going when we are in the West Bank?
Here is where we will go:
1) Bethlehem remains on tourist itineraries and welcomes visitors. Bethlehem is in the West Bank and in order to visit you will need to get off your bus, cross the check point on foot and show your passport. You will then board a Bethlehem bus for the rest of the sightseeing. At the end of your visit, you will again cross the check point on foot and board your original bus to continue your trip.
2) Jericho is in the West Bank. For the most part, groups are able to stop at Jericho and visit the ancient Tel without difficulty.
Will we be going to Gaza or Hebron?
Doesn’t the State Department have a special advisory in affect for travelers to the Middle East?
Yes, and a similar advisory or warning has been in affect for the last 20 years or so. During that time, over 100,000 travelers have enjoyed our Holy Land programs. Our office in the US monitors the State Department’s advisories and uses our decades of firsthand experience plus our on-site staff to inform our day-to-day decision making.
The situation in the Middle East, especially Israel and Palestine, looks so worrisome on the TV.
What explanation can you give?
Yes, on TV it looks bad. Here’s why:
1)TV is a microscope; true perspective is lost
• everything seems big
• everything seems close
2) Journalists must justify their jobs
• there are almost as many journalists in the Jerusalem area as in Washington DC
• each journalist must justify an expensive overseas assignment
• each journalist is trying to make a name by presenting the most dramatic version of a news story
3) These factors produce the “Sabra Syndrome”
• smallest story is reported by network news
• similar stories in US are never reported on the network news
• the media decides what will be big news.
For example, when five people die in Jerusalem, the media makes it front page news; however, when 17,000 US citizens die in alcohol related accidents each year, the media hardly notices.
Putting Risk into Perspective
Would You be Shocked to Learn?
Between 2000 and 2003,
1495 bombs exploded in the United States.
These bombs killed a total of 51 people.
Statistics from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
Can you put the risk into a perspective I can understand?
Risk is something we live with every day.
Just because something is familiar does not mean there is no risk.
Here are some examples:
• One out of every 4,300 American dies in auto accidents
• One out of every 20,000 American drowns
• One out of every 68,000 Americans chokes to death on food
• One out of every 75,000 American dies while riding a bicycle
• One out of every 4.5 million Americans die in terrorist attacks (in US and Overseas)
What is my chance of being involved in an act of terrorism?
Your chance of being involved in an act of terrorism (in the US or overseas) is very low: just 1 in 4,775,210. Meanwhile, in 2003, the FBI estimates there was one murder every 31 minutes in the USA. There are risks everywhere in life; things we assume are safe, simply because they are a part of our everyday life, often carry the most risk. Your chances of being killed in a car accident are 1 in 4000 while your chances of being killed by an act of terrorism are much less... just 1 in 4.5 million. Each person must consider for him or herself the uncertainties versus the Rewards of Travel.