by Dennis Prager

Posted on Nov. 17, 2015 at 2:54 pm

A sign in the window of a Judaica shop in Israel reads "big discount for brave tourist." Photo by Susan Estrin

A sign in the window of a Judaica shop in Israel reads “big discount for brave tourist.” Photo by Susan Estrin

If you are a Jew who cares about Israel and you have the money to pay for a ticket and a hotel room, it is a sin not to visit to Israel at this time.

That is a message every rabbi who cares about Israel should be conveying to his/her congregation.

I just returned from another trip to Israel, and I find it embarrassing as a Jew that so many Jews have decided not to go to Israel because of some terror attacks on Israelis in the last few months.

When I went to Israel during the 2000 intifada, during the worst of the bombings of buses and pizza parlors in Jerusalem, I stayed in hotels that were literally empty. Israeli after Israeli would say to those of us who visited, “Thank you for coming.” Sometimes with tears in their eyes.

American Jewry, the biggest source of tourism to Israel, had essentially abandoned Israelis. With a few exceptions, only Orthodox Jews and evangelical Christians were visiting. The Reform movement had cancelled all its youth trips, and the Conservative movement had cancelled most of them. American Jews had largely decided that it was too dangerous to visit fellow Jews while hundreds of them were being murdered, even though the chance of a tourist being hurt was minuscule. They would allow Israelis to face the Palestinians’ version of ISIS alone, and would allow innumerable Israeli retail businesses to close down.

On this trip, I took 450 of my listeners from around America. The trip was a “Stand with Israel” tour organized by the syndicator of my radio show, the Salem Radio Network. It is worth noting that about 400 of them were not Jewish, and that almost no one who signed up for the trip cancelled their trip after the terror attacks began – despite the warnings of friends and relatives.

People frustrated with the direction of America and the direction of the world regularly ask: “What can I do to make any difference?”

So here is one of the best answers I know: Visit Israel. And do so especially when there are terror attacks. If every time there was a spate of attacks on Israelis, few people cancelled their trips to Israel – or, if I may imagine a much better world than we live in, tourism to Israel actually increased – three huge things would be achieved.

First, Palestinians would get the message that there are many people outside of Israel who find the murder of Israeli Jews morally repulsive.

Second, Palestinians would have to weigh their emotional high from murdering Israelis against the economic benefit Israel would receive in increased tourism.

Third, and perhaps most important, Israelis would know they are not alone.

Israel, it ought to be recalled, is the only country in the world targeted for annihilation. That has been true from the day it was proclaimed a state in 1948 until today. It was true before Israel was forced to conquer East Jerusalem, Gaza, and the West Bank, where the Palestinians (outside of Jordan) live. It was true before there was a single Jewish settlement on the West Bank. It was true after three Israeli prime ministers – Yitzchak Rabin, Ehud Barak, and Ehud Olmert – offered to give up Gaza and virtually all of the West Bank to Palestinians to set up a Palestinian state. And it was true after Israel gave every inch of Gaza to the Palestinians.

All of which proves that when Palestinian spokesmen say they want peace, they do not mean peace with Israel, they mean peace without Israel.

Some of Israel’s Western critics say they “support” or even “love” Israel but oppose its prime-minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. But nothing would be different if the Israeli Left had won the last election. For example, the chief opponent to Netanyahu, Isaac Herzog of the Labor Party, opposed the treaty with Iran as passionately as did Netanyahu.

On planet Earth at this time in its history there is no more clear battle between the decent and the indecent than Israel’s battle for survival against its enemies. In his speech before the United Nations General Assembly in September, Israel’s prime minister concluded his speech with this truism:

“Israel is civilization’s front line in the battle against barbarism.”

Those who refuse to acknowledge this have chosen to be morally blind.

But even if you don’t acknowledge this, it behooves you to come to Israel now. You will do more good than you can do with almost any other single act – while also having the time of your life.

You should also send your college-age son or daughter to Israel. Nothing can inoculate a young person against the morally distorted ideas he or she will be subjected to at virtually every American college as does a prolonged visit to Israel.

The truth is that a visit to Israel, even in when there are terrorist attacks, is extraordinarily safe. But to the extent there is any danger – well, we all have to decide how we want to live our lives in the few years we are granted. When it comes to fighting for good and against evil, we can either play it safe or we can we do good. Very rarely can we do both.


Dennis Prager’s nationally syndicated radio talk show is heard in Los Angeles on KRLA (AM 870) 9 a.m. to noon. His latest project is the Internet-based Prager University (prageru.com).