The security environment remains complex in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. US citizens need to be aware of the continuing risks of travel to areas ... where there are heightened tensions and security risks.
Since the United States feels it has to warn its citizens about travelling to Israel, it only seems fair to warn Israelis about travelling to the US. As much as I love a good shopping trip to Target, Walmart and Marshalls as much as the next person, I am not sure I can recommend a trip to the US for any sane Israeli right now because the security environment remains complex and there are heightened tensions lurking around every McDonald's and movie theatre.
However, if you -- Israeli person -- choose to ignore my blanket warning, let me highlight a few of the absolutely non-negotiable no-go areas:
- For heavens sake stay out of California and Texas. People are dropping like flies in those states, according to the US statistics list of number of murders by state. Better to vacation in Alabama or Hawaii where you may get run over by a card-carrying member of the Klu Klux Klan or knocked off by a wayward tsunami wave, but other than that, you should be fine.
- Do not go to Chicago, particularly if you are anticipating a domestic disturbance. Otherwise, the Chicago police will show up and (fatally) shoot you. A police spokesperson, responding to the events that led to a tragic Christmas day shooting, said that police "accidentally struck and tragically killed a mother of five and then another officer discharged his weapon when confronted by a combative college student home for Christmas and "accidentally" ensured that his family won't ever have to pay tuition again, if you get my drift.
- Or Ponoma, California, where a woman was burned to death on Christmas day right outside her house. The suspect had time to chase the victim outside, yell and scream, douse her with gas and set her on fire .... and get away because no one in the neighbourhood heard or a saw a thing.
- Or Alaska, population 800,000, where there were 41 murders in 2014. For what? Not enough whale blubber to go around? Drinking games gone a muck? Dangerous ratio of men to women? And Virginia, a state with approximately the same population as Israel, had 337 murders.
- Then there's that warped interpretation of the Second Amendment which makes every yahoo in the country think that it is his or her God-given obligation to own (and carry) a gun, because that often turns out well. Forget the non-terrorist mass killings of the past few years, thanks to that wildly abused Amendment, a three-year old can shoot you by mistake in Walmart, with the gun he found cocked and ready in his mother's handbag. I guess that doesn't happen in Israel because we don't have Walmart.
- Do not walk alone in New York City at night. You will probably get mugged; it is not a larger version of Tel Aviv.
- What happens in Vegas is really none of your business. Stay on the Strip. Apparently the LA gangs like to fill up their war chests in Vegas so the Bloods, the Crips, the Mongols, Hells Angels and the likes can be found at the craps tables on any given Sunday. FYI: they are not big fans of unsolicited eye contact.
- Don't stop your car at a traffic light in Miami unless you have no further use for your handbag, your car or your fingers.
- According to the annual Report on Hate Crimes released by the Uniform Crime Reporting Program of the FBI, there were 609 anti-Jewish incidents in the US this past year (compared to 154 anti-Muslim incidents). I am sure there are way more than that in Israel, but at least the majority of the population is on constant alert. The home of the free and the land of the brave is not. Between the president, the State Department and the ghosts of the Dulles Brothers, there isn't a lot of love out there for our peeps.
- San Bernadino. Where to begin? A cleric named Roshan Abbassi, after denying he knew the San Bernadino murderers, posted a video on the mosque's website claiming that the SB shooting was a US government ploy and that the poor shooters were just patsies framed by the government. Oh, and the FBI recently said that there are active jihadi recruiters working in at least 10 American states.
It's pretty ironic that the US government doesn't think its citizens should travel to Israel because it is too dangerous. Apparently they aren't into self-introspection or looking in mirrors. Too bad. Of course, if they did, half the country would be on planes headed to Israel ASAP so that they could enjoy a safe winter holiday.