Faces on Faith: Everyone should see Israel with their own eyes
At 8:10 one morning in Israel, I boarded the 8:10 a.m. bus to Jerusalem at the Tiberias Terminal. There were only a few people on the bus so I had two seats to myself – one for me and one for my carry on which was a bit heavy.
After about an hour we arrived in Afula where many passengers boarded the bus so my luxury two-seats-to-myself ride ended when a young man about twice as tall and twice as wide as I am claimed the seat next to me. Now I was scrunched next to the window with my carry-on on my lap. He looked like a typical young Israeli and we chatted a bit in Hebrew about the kind of innocuous things that strangers on a bus talk about.
When he received a call and began talking rapidly on his cell phone, I could not understand a word that he was saying. Frustrated, I said to myself, “I thought my Hebrew was better than that.” Then I realized with a shudder that the man was speaking Arabic and that it was clearly his native tongue.
His name is Sameer, and he is a Muslim from Nazareth. He told me he was not subjected to any discriminatory examinations or questions.
I took a cab from the Jerusalem bus terminal to my hotel. My driver was a Muslim named Nael. He was pursuing his livelihood just like anyone else. The man who checked me into my hotel is named Muhammad. Same goes for him.
Yet, if you believe the anti-Israel propaganda in the media, you would think that the Arabs in Israel walk about in chains. Of course Israel must be very conscious of security, and for some Arabs and Palestinians in some parts of the country life is very difficult because of horrible acts of terror that have been perpetrated against the Jewish State.
My experiences in Israel convince me that in order to have credibility everyone should visit Israel to see with his or her own eyes what it is like before commenting about its political situation. It is complicated to be sure, and Israel is far from perfect, but putting the bulk of the blame on Israel for the current situation hardly reflects reality.
As you read these words, Pastor John Danner and I are preparing to lead a group of Jews and Christians on a joint trip to Israel. We eagerly look forward to helping our travelers see Israel with their own eyes.
Rabbi Stephen Lewis Fuchs is with the Bat Yam Temple of the Islands.