Tourists say they are not afraid of Iran's missile threats

"I feel safer here than I do when I am back home."

By ANIA BESSONOV
May 8, 2018 14:54
2 minute read.

Tourists in Tel Aviv tell the Jerusalem Post they are not afraid of Iranian missile threats, May 7, 2018 (Ania Bessonov, Ruty Korotaev)

Tourists in Tel Aviv tell the Jerusalem Post they are not afraid of Iranian missile threats, May 7, 2018 (Ania Bessonov, Ruty Korotaev)

Iran is threatening to send missiles into Israel — but that isn’t stopping tourists from coming.

Yesterday, Israeli defense ministers shared Iran’s plans to send missiles towards Israeli military bases from Syria in hopes to avenge the alleged Israeli airstrikes that took place last month.

While this may be frightening news to many, current visitors don’t feel overly threatened. In fact, some even say they feel safer in Israel than they do back home.

“I never really feel scared while I’m here,” New York native Sam Shatzkin said, who is visiting Israel for the seventh time. “I feel safer here than I do when I am back home.”

Though he has no family here, Shatzkin says he keeps returning to Israel for the people and friends he has made on each visit. Some of his visits have been on organized programs, on which young adults come to Israel to partake in a variety of initiatives. Other visits have been with the intention of touring.

Shatzkin admits he hasn’t followed the news as closely lately but was aware of Iran’s threat to send missiles. Despite the potential risk, he says he is not afraid.

“I have been here during missile threats,” he said. “I have had to go to shelters a few years back.”

Shatzkin is not the only one who says these threats have little implication on his travel plans. Alex Lam is visiting Israel for his second time and brought his friend, Sydney Chu, with him to tour the country.

Chu and Lam have no Jewish background and when asked why they chose to travel to Israel, Lam answered “why not?”

“There is always that fear but you shouldn’t let it paralyze you from doing what you want to do and travel,” said Lam when asked about the Iranian threats. “I guess that is another reason why I’m here, just to see how things really are and not how they are portrayed in the media.”

For others tourists, their Jewish connection to Israel trumps any threat.

“It’s been four years since I have been here and I needed to come back,” said Jaimi Silverberg, who is visiting Israel for her second time.

“I feel a greater connection to his country than others and I think for good reason. My background and growing up with my family and being Jewish is kind of an obligation and a right to come back here,” she said.

Silverberg said the tensions between Iran and Israel made her nervous but her feelings changed as soon as she arrived.

“Seeing that there is still life around here and this is [Israelis’] home,” she said.

Ma’ariv defense analyst, Alon Ben David, said though Israel is not on the brink of war with Iran, the Iranians “do want revenge for their losses” after the alleged Israeli airstrike against Iranian airbase operating out of Syria which left seven IRGC soldiers dead.

Still, with the warmer months fast approaching, Israel is expecting their numbers in tourism to continue to grow.


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