Tourism in Israel is in need of an economic blood transfusion.
Tragically, since the recent conflict, tourism has all but dried up. Israeli hotels, restaurants, attractions and stores are crying out for American and Canadian Jews to respond to the crippling shortage of tourist dollars. Campaigns urging Jews in the Diaspora to visit Israel have fallen on empty pockets.
Ensconced as we are in our very comfortable lives here in North America, we have become scared little rabbits -- terrified to visit Israel because of the "unstable" situation. When Israel needs us most -- not just to show our "solidarity," but also to infuse its economy with lots of tourist dollars -- we balk and hide. It's okay for our Israeli brothers and sisters to live with the threat of terror -- but it's not safe for us.
Our cowardice here in the Diaspora is having a devastating effect on the Israeli economy and morale.
The fact that Israelis are living, working, educating their children, having babies, buying homes and carrying on despite the random incidents of terror, is very lucky for us. Their bravery is ensuring that Israel continues to exist. Sadly, our cowardice here in the Diaspora is having a devastating effect on the Israeli economy and morale.
It is up to every North American Jew to snap out of this fearful mindset and get tough. The best way to combat terrorism is to not get cowed by it. When we get on a plane and travel to Israel and stay in Israeli hotels and fill up the country with our tourist dollars, we send a very clear message to terrorists. Terror relies on our fear and if we refuse to bow to it, if we use its power to diffuse it's very purpose, we render it useless.
Jews who spend money to go to Mexico or Florida or any other vacation spot are literally starving Israel out. If you've got the money to travel, you owe it to Israel to spend it there.
And there's really no reason not to.
Israel offers absolutely everything that a vacationer could possibly want. The prices are akin to anywhere in North America for hotels and car rentals. Restaurants are plentiful. The shopping is fantastic. The beaches will take your breath away. The climate is wonderful all year round. If you want a tropical beach anytime of the year, go to Eilat. It puts Cancun to shame!
As far as cost goes, you'll pay a little more for airfare (we're talking a few hundred dollars here - not thousands!) -- but everything else is pretty much the same. The only other inconvenience is the length of the flight, but surely we can sacrifice a few hours longer on a plane for our beloved Israel. It's the least we can do.
Having just returned from a two-week vacation in Israel, I am convinced that there is no better place in the world for a holiday. Far from the idea we have here in North America that Israel is one big gunfight at the OK Corral, I felt completely safe and secure. The only reminder of the conflict is the security checks one goes through when entering any store, restaurant or building. But it's a small inconvenience that soon becomes routine.
Israel needs us. She needs our dollars and she needs us to come home.
We traveled throughout Israel and enjoyed every minute. In Tel Aviv and Jerusalem the streets are teeming with life. The indomitable Israeli spirit is palpable; you can feel it in the streets, the markets, everywhere.
Contrast this with a cowering North American Diaspora, terrified to travel to Israel even for a short stay.
It's time for us to remember who we are as a people. Israel is our country. It is our hope. It is our only protection from cultural and spiritual annihilation. Israel needs us. She needs our dollars. She needs our strength and our courage. Israel needs us to come home.