How safe is it in Jerusalem and Ramallah *right now*?

My sister is supposed to leave next week for a two-week trip to Israel and the West Bank, with a group of about 15 people: high school students and their adult chaperons. (My sister, needless to say, is one of the chaperons.) They’ll be talking to Israelis and Palestinians, Jews and Arabs, staying in people’s homes, etc. They are traveling as a Quaker group under the aegis of a Quaker school.

She’s getting a lot of “too dangerous to be there right now” advice from people, and there’s certainly some instability in the region. It’s a big region, though.

Anyone in Israel/the West Bank right now – how safe/unsafe would it be for such a group to travel there in February/March of 2011?

One of my best friends was there a couple of weeks ago - they had no problems at all.

Who is she hearing from? Are they people with any credibility on the subject?

For some people, any trip more exotic than Paris is going to be “too dangerous.” Remember when we had that thread when someone was saying that it was grossly irresponsible for anyone with kids to go see the World Cup in South Africa?

That said, plenty of people will say they travelled in an area and “it’s fine.” Even in active war zones, there are usually people who are willing to sell tourists a bus ticket- money is money. And the majority of those tourists are going to go about their business without incident. I, in a case of spectacularly poor planning, had a nice visit to Maoist-controlled Nepal during one of the low points of the civil war. I was fine, but obviously it wasn’t really a safe or smart place to be.

In other words, check out the US travel advisories. I think they even have a hotline for Israel. I would step down what they say a notch- they tend to be super conservative with their recommendations- but they are a much better source than random anecdotes.

I’ve been to Jerusalem plenty of times, no problem. It’s a beautiful city. The most dangerous thing by far is the traffic- Israelis rival New Yorkers for craziest drivers. (It’s a venerable tradition- one biblical king is described as “driving his chariot like a madman”).

Good advice, even sven, I’ll pass that on.

But if anyone else is there currently, I’d still love to hear from you.

I was in Jerusalem for business recently. No problems at all. Walked around at night after work. Lots of people on the streets at all hours. But I didn’t go to the West Bank.