Tourism in the Land of Israel has been booming for decades. The numbers of tourists has been in the millions every year for quite some time. Despite the news reports about strife and violence in various parts of the Land of Israel, the masses of people that arrive each year to travel through the Land of Israel is impressive by any standard. Why do they come? What attracts Jewish, non-Jewish, religious, and non-religious alike to this unique Land? Is it the beautiful vistas that grace the Land or is it something more subtle than that?
You don’t have to be religious…
The Land of Israel may be the Holy Land. But not all of the people who live their are all that religious. Most of the Jewish people in the Land of Israel are either strictly religious or more moderately religious. But a rather large cross-section of the country is either non-religious or even somewhat anti-religious. But – and here is the interesting point – nearly everybody that lives in the Land of Israel is fervently dedicated to the preciousness of the Land of Israel to the Jewish people.
The question of course arises as to why people who are not religious – and especially anti-religious – would care so much about the Land of Israel. Why do they cry of joy and concern when their children are inducted into the Israel Defense Forces? There is a strongly held understanding among nearly every Jew in the Land of Israel that there is holiness in the very being of the State of Israel. For one person it is because they see in the Land of Israel the fulfillment of the prophecies of the Bible. For another, it is a hard-nosed understanding that without the State of Israel, there is no genuine solution to the dark side of anti-semitism in the world. And for another, it is altogether a pure sense of holiness that they feel wherever they walk in the Land.
It seems to me that nearly every tourist taps in to these feelings in one way or another. Whether it is the Biblical connection, or the more recent historical stories of Zionism, or the simple holiness that one feels in this Land – there is always something strong that tourists are drawn to. It is indeed a unique Land.