I often hear the myth that Israel is unsafe, especially for tourists. I know for sure that that is false.
A week there sightseeing was a wonderful experience, even with the unrest that is the hallmark of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
I’ve stayed in quite a few hotels and with few exceptions, they are quite good. The King David is simply the best—one man’s opinion—with its old-world opulence. And I was stunned to see the magnificence that will be the Waldorf-Astoria, just down the street. Work continues and this no doubt will be a showplace.
We stayed several nights at the Mount Zion (I’d stayed there before and will again), located just steps from the Old City. On the edge of the Valley of Hinnom, mentioned in the Bible, the Mount Zion Hotel was quite good. The hotel staff was very helpful.
We also stayed at Christ Church Guesthouse and the location and general pleasantness can’t be beat. Just inside Jaffa Gate, one has only to roll out of bed in the morning and head directly into the Old City.
All in all, I not only felt safe, but very comfortable and content. A few minor issues: I rented a car and was advised against going into certain areas, due to Palestinian annoyance with the 44th anniversary of Israel’s Six-Day War victory.
I have not changed my mind that Bible prophecy gives every indication that we are living at the end of world history—critics’ scoffing and mocking, be gone!—but a trip to the Land of Israel was, for me, quite wonderful.
This is my fifth trip to Israel, and they get better and better. We are perfectly safe, the weather is gorgeous, the food incredible, and the historical sites are other-worldly.
Two days ago, Jonathan and I went to Masada, the ancient summer residence of Herod, on the Dead Sea. Of course, it is more famous as the scene of a ghastly last-stand by Jews who refused to bow to Rome. One thousand men, women, and children died on the summit, killing themselves rather than face a life of slavery.
It is redundant to say that it’s hot down there, the lowest spot on Earth. But, it was hot. A dry heat, yes, but an extremely hot dry heat!
When you travel south to Masada, you will drive the length of the Dead Sea. I was surprised to see that opposite the fortress, the seabed was dry. This was the region where Sodom and Gomorrah once existed, as well. Brother, this is a forbidding climate, and not for the faint of heart.
And, for the Weird File: I took a slight wrong turn on the way to Masada, and ended up asking directions at a Palestinian-run gas station…done-up in an Elvis motif. The incongruity left us laughing most of the day.
Despite the unrest in this region, we are encountering people who are lively, seemingly content, and resourceful. What an amazing country. You should simply decide to make the trip.
Long live Israel.
Being in the holy city of Jerusalem is of course an amazing experience. It is now about 3:30 a.m. on Sunday, the start of the work week here.
I am listening to the Muslim call to prayer, thinking about my drive through Ma’ale Adumim yesterday and how President Obama needs to take a drive around the city to fully understand what he’s talking about. I’m also thinking a lot about the souls that live in this city, ranging from the Palestinians who eek-out a living selling souvenirs to tourists, to the fascinating families living in the Jewish quarter of the Old City.
To be perfectly honest, though, I’m thinking about the food. Two nights ago my marvelous 19-year-old son, Jonathan, and I had dinner at the Armenian Tavern, just inside Jaffa Gate. Let me tell you something: wherever you live on this planet, get on a plane and come to Jerusalem for this magnificent food. I’m told the Armenian Tavern was once a Crusader whatchamacallit.
We also had some great-tasting stuff yesterday on the way to Masada. I don’t know what it was, but it was delicious.
Just some light-hearted fare today, from a place that knows and suffers from conflict.
I’ve stayed in plenty of hotels in Jerusalem over the years, including the fabled King David. For a trip with my son, I decided to spend a couple nights at Christ Church Guesthouse, just inside the Old City of Jerusalem’s Jaffa Gate.
What a great choice.
The church, the oldest Protestant church in the Middle East (built in the 1840s, so one hopes that on his trip through Palestine, Mark Twain at least popped in), Christ Church is a real oasis.
Just a few feet from the first British Consulate (1820), the guesthouse and grounds is perfect for pilgrims, is safe and comfortable.
There is even—apparently—a lecture later in the week on the subject of Bob Dylan and the end of time. I’m not sure if the two are linked.
In any event, we are off to the Dead Sea today, and Masada.