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Christmas in Bethlehem
Is it safe in Israel?
This is my first post for Travelujah, so allow me to introduce myself. My name is Princella Smith.
I'm a 29 year-old from Wynne, AR and I've spent some time in Washington, DC and in Arkansas as a political operative on Capitol Hill working for organizations such as Newt Gingrich's former group, American Solutions. I'm also a writer marketer for the English edition of Israel Hayom Newspaper in Tel Aviv as well as an Ambassador for Save a Child's Heart in Holon, Israel.
This past year, I was an English teacher in Hunan, China, and I am now a graduate student at the Lauder School of Government in the Interdisciplinary Center University system in Herzliya, Israel. It'll be fun sharing my experiences with Travelujah readers. I do hope that you enjoy my posts as well.
The question I am most asked by friends and family at home is whether or not I feel safe here in Israel.
Soldier on the bus in Israel; Courtesy: Princella Smith for Travelujah-Holy Land Tours
This is a picture of a typical daily ride on the bus for me. Take a look at the Israeli soldier's lap. Pretty much anywhere you go, you see them strapped with these. Out in the open. (Very different from America isn't it?) Israeli soldiers are ready in case something happens.
The weapon is called a Tavor or a "TAR-21". It is named after Mount Tavor, while "TAR-21" stands for "Tavor Assault Rifle - 21st Century".
A little history on Mt. Tavor is that it is located in Lower Galilee, Israel. It is the same place where Judge Deborah in the Bible led the Israelites to victory over the Canaanites in the mid 14th century BCE.It is also believed by many Christians to be the site of the Transfiguration of Jesus....Soooooo...Yes. I feel safe in Israel. Between all these strapped soldiers and a LOT of praying, I feel protected.
What I find most interesting, though, is how normal it is to everyone here. It furthers the notion that people just adapt to their environment.
Israelis have unfortunately grown up in a country where there is constant alert. The fact that soldiers carry tavors and M16 automatic weapons out in the open is normal for them and even provides more of a sense of security.
When I showed the photo to my friends in America via Facebook, many of them were amazed and shocked. Open carry of automatic weapons is absolutely not allowed in the United States. The image of a soldier strapped with that kind of weapon and loads of ammunition provokes an array of curious emotions.
I will never forget the first train ride I took in Israel. I was traveling from Rishon Le Zion to Herzliya. One of the soldiers just sat down and started loading what appeared to be an M16 in broad daylight.
Everyone continued to walk along the train platform as if it was normal. In America, people would run for cover-screaming along the way.
I am an absolute believer in the defense of Israel as a haven of democracy in the Middle East and as God's Holy Land. If open carry is what's needed for the security of Israel, then so be it. I know that as long as I am here, I don't mind it at all. It's nice to know that the Israeli Defense Forces are on alert.
God bless the Holy Land! I look forward to sharing more with you soon.
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Princella D. Smith is an American freelance writer Israel Hayom and blogs for Travelujah-Holy Land Tours. She was a formerly a communications staffer to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and has also served as a communications director on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. She has been a regular commentator for national and local media outlets in the United States. She is currently a graduate student at the Lauder School of Government of the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) in Herzliya, Israel.