What I Learned From My Trip To Israel – Part 1
My recent trip to Israel was truly the trip of a lifetime. This was a “bucket list” kind of journey for me. I have studied the Bible my whole life. I have a Masters of Divinity and Doctor of Education with an emphasis on biblical literacy, but nothing in my studies has compared to what I experienced by actually being in Israel. I took nearly 1,000 pictures plus video to document the pilgrimage.
Aside from the personal aspect of the trip, I also learned some very important things about the world from being in Israel that I felt compelled to share in this blog.
- Israel is a tiny country. I always knew Israel was small, but I was unprepared for exactly how small. You could compare it to less than half the size of Florida from Orlando to Miami. In the course of our visit, I gazed across the Valley of Tears into Syria (less than an hour from Damascus where things are coming apart), stood literally yards from Jordan and looked a Jordanian solider in the eye, drove within one hour of Lebanon, and less two hours from Egypt. Israel is literally surrounded. And they are surrounded by a Muslim world of over 600 million that wants nothing more than to see them wiped off the planet.
- The Jews are transforming the wasteland. You hear time and again on the news about the disputed Jewish settlements in the West Bank. About how the Jews are pressing in on Palestinian territory and pushing them out. Listen, I visited one of the Jewish settlements in the West Bank and drove by several others. First, the West Bank is a total wasteland, completely and utterly desolate. I have never seen a land more stark and lifeless than what the Bible calls the Judean Wilderness and we today call the West Bank. But the Jews are literally transforming portions of it into a desert oasis. Everywhere they put a settlement, the desert comes alive with citrus groves, vegetable farms, houses, schools, etc. It is truly amazing. And they are not pushing the Palestinians out. They are going into land where there is no life, creating something out of nothing.
- There is a huge difference in Arab Israel and Jewish Israel. Muslim and Jew both claim rights to the land of Israel. This is no more clearly seen than the city of Jerusalem that is literally divided into Muslim and Jewish sections. Driving through the streets of this holy city, one thing is glaringly apparent. Muslim sections of the city look like a ghetto and Jewish sections look clean and pristine. I was shocked. It is as if the Muslim population has no sense of pride in their neighborhoods. There is trash, refuse, graffiti, everywhere. It stinks like trash and the Muslims are exceedingly rude. Our group walked past one group of Muslim women at one point and they boldly held their noses at us. In contrast, the Jewish areas are clear of trash. You can smell bread and other food cooking. It is clean and you instantly feel “safer” and welcome. I am confident that Israel left to the Jews would continue to transform into a paradise and an Israel left to the Muslim would transform into a waste that you or I would never want to visit much less live.
Check back next week for part 2 of what I learned from my trip to Israel.