I’ve been talking to people about my trip to Israel and have heard the same question, over and over:
- Isn’t Bethlehem In the West Bank? Wasn’t that risky?
- You went into the West Bank? Is that safe?
The very question betrays a certain bias and I want to make clear that Bethlehem is indeed very safe for tourists. The worst you have to fear is aggressive touts.
But don’t let that stop you from visiting.
You will notice the Wall of Separation in Bethlehem. You will notice some desperate poverty. But people are generally kind. They are just trying to make a living. They are just trying to survive, like you and me, in a land-locked area with freedom of movement severely restricted.
And I say that because during a prior trip to Israel (not this one), one of our hosts at a guesthouse in Safed incredulously looked at us when we said we went to the West Bank and said, “You guys are crazy. You were really risking your lives.”
Well, no…actually Bethlehem is very safe because it knows tourism is its lifeblood. The last thing Bethlehem needs is a bad reputation. The streets are safe. It is a beautiful place.
There’s a lot of misconception about the whole West Bank. It’s generally a safe place. I’ve been to Ramallah too. Don’t let fear keep you from visiting. I felt very safe walking the streets with my three-year-old and wife.