If the 1.5 million Christian tourists who come to Israel every year cared deeply enough to visit Judea and Samaria (the area known as the West Bank) and volunteer in Israel, would there be fewer murders happening?
Could these tragic stories have been prevented?
On September 16, 2018, Ari Fuld, a 45-year-old father of four, was stabbed and murdered in cold blood by a 17-year-old Palestinian terrorist just outside a grocery store near the Gush Etzion Junction, south of Jerusalem. Before collapsing and ultimately succumbing to his wounds, he managed to chase down and shoot the terrorist, preventing him from stabbing anyone else.
On Sunday, October 7, 2018, a 23-year-old Palestinian terrorist entered the factory where he worked in the Barkan Industrial Park, near the city of Ariel. After working for a short time, he retrieved a submachine gun from his bag and used it to kill two of his co-workers, Kim Levengrond Yehezkel, 29, and Ziv Hajbi, 35. He even handcuffed Yehezkel before shooting her in cold blood. After shooting and wounding a third co-worker and firing at several others, he managed to flee the scene. Kim Levengrond Yehezkel was survived by her husband and their 15 month old son, and Ziv Hajbi was a father to 3 children.
More than just coexistence
The interesting thing about these two terrorist attacks in Israel is that both of the attack sites had previously become famous examples of peaceful coexistence. The supermarket chain Rami Levy is known for allowing Jews and Palestinians to work and shop together, and its location in Gush Etzion where Ari Fuld was murdered just outside is open to both Jews and Palestinians, to freely come and go.
The Barkan Industrial Park is located close to Ariel in Samaria, and employs 8,000 people, roughly half of whom are Palestinians, all of them receiving the same wages and benefits, and working together on a daily basis.
The purpose of this article is not to discuss the issue of coexistence, or whether or not a Palestinian state will be successful in the peace process. As a Christian, I am a firm believer that the best possible thing for the Jews and Palestinians living in Judea and Samaria would be for Israel to resettle and restore these areas as a part of the State of Israel. If you don’t agree with me, you should come here and see it for yourself.
What are Christian tourists missing?
There are approximately 1.5 million Christians that visit Israel every year. I’ve been coming and forth to Judea and Samaria for over 10 years and I can testify that a miniscule percentage of these tourists actually come to this part of Israel.
Most tours are focused on the traditional sites––the Sea of Galilee, the Dead Sea, Masada, the Mount of Olives, the Old City of Jerusalem, etc.
Why isn’t the Biblical Heartland included on the list of major sites to visit when Christians make a trip to Israel? Since more than 80% of our Bible was either written or took place in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria––the area known as the West Bank––it doesn’t sense that the majority of tours skip over this important area.
Just to name a few examples of significant biblical sites in Judea and Samaria:
- Elon Moreh, where Abraham stood in Genesis 12 and God promised him the land, pronouncing the famous verse “I will bless those who bless you…” (Genesis 12:3)
- The Mountains of Blessing and Cursing, where Joshua declared, “As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:15)
- Where Jesus ministered to the woman at the well (John 4)
- Shiloh, where the Tabernacle stood for 369 years and God’s glory dwelt
- Bethel, where Jacob had his dream
- Hebron, where all the patriarchs and matriarchs are buried and where King David first reigned
- and the list goes on!
When traveling in Judea and Samaria, it is impossible to throw a stone and not hit a story straight from the Bible.
How can someone volunteer in Israel?
Over the last 17 years, HaYovel, a humanitarian non-profit organization from the United States whose mission is to assist the farmers in Judea and Samaria, has brought over 3,000 people from 30 different countries around the world to the heartland of Israel.
We provide a program where volunteers assist small farmers in Judea and Samaria, while also receiving an incredible tour unlike any other. Volunteers have the opportunity to meet the pioneers living here and to travel to the biblical sites that most tours do not.
By the end of the program, volunteers are educated as effective ambassadors to go back to their home countries and spread the truth about what they have seen and heard.
Today, we bring 300-400 volunteers per year on various volunteer programs throughout the year.
The challenges that must be faced
Although this may seem like a big impact, it is still a small work when compared to the more than one million Christians visiting Israel every year. Not only that, but the Palestinian movement is funded and supported by millions of dollars and a worldwide movement of people.
Sadly, most of this well meaning support does not actually reach the Palestinian people, but goes to the pockets of their corrupt leaders and to terrorists.
It is a well known fact that Palestinians who murder innocent Israelis receive handsome lifetime salaries while in Israeli prisons––much more support for their families than they could earn in an average job working for their own government.
Palestinians are driven to incitement by their leaders in the Palestinian Authority, their media, and their school systems, where children are taught from a young age to hate Jews.
On the opposite side, although growing, there are still very few Christians and tourists who visit Judea and Samaria. Even though there are millions of pro-Israel Christians worldwide, the majority of them either do not voice public support for Israel’s heartland, or they are ignorant of what is really happening here. Many are afraid to come here because of the image that the media has reported.
The reality is that there are more than 400,000 Jews living in Judea and Samaria, and another 270,000 living in what is known as East Jerusalem. These are the brave pioneers that choose to stand on God’s promises by resettling the mountains of Israel, building houses, planting agriculture, and restoring Israel’s heartland. Yet they are not empowered by the international community, but rather constantly struggle just to survive on a daily basis.
The powerful impact of those who volunteer in Israel
In contrast to the evil agenda of the terrorists who murder innocent Jews, empowered by an international community that supports them in the form of millions of dollars and a worldwide voice in their support, imagine if there were a global movement amongst Christians to support the place where God declared His covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who proclaims peace, who brings glad tidings of good things, who says to Zion, ‘your God reigns.’”Isaiah 52:7
Imagine if the millions of Christians worldwide stood up with one courageous voice and said “enough is enough!” Imagine tour buses crowding the biblical sites in Judea and Samaria, and volunteers flooding the communities, declaring their physical support for the land and people here. Imagine financial, prayerful, political and advocacy support for the Heartland of Israel amongst the nations of the world.
If there were millions of beautiful feet declaring their support for God’s promises that were spoken in this place, would Islamic terrorists feel so empowered to go out and murder innocent Jews?
The obvious answer is a resounding and challenging NO!
We need more beautiful feet on the mountains of Israel. Click here to find out more about how you can go to Israel and make a powerful difference in this critical time.