Letter to the Editor

Like water in the Sea of Galilee

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Dear Editor,

In December 1994-January 1995, I took a trip to Israel and Egypt. I even consulted with Bruce Crosby of the Gazette about what type of camera to take.

Virginia Trail and I traveled with a BYU study tour group. Our guides were Gary and Leisel McBride. (They later became the directors of the BYU Jerusalem Center.)

Our understanding of the historical and biblical sites in that part of the world is much greater, thanks to them.

Except for some bus bombings in Tell Aviv before our arrival, Israel was relatively peaceful. Prime Minister Yitshak Rabin was not assassinated until Nov. 4, 1995.

Much has happened in the nearly 12 years since that time. Ariel Sharon was elected prime minister by the greatest majority in Israel's history.

A year ago, he ordered a unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. Since then, Israel has experienced little peace. (Sharon had a stroke and brain hemorrhage in?January 2006 and is unable to function as a leader.)

While U.S. Secretary of State Condolezza Rice visited Israel on a peacekeeping mission, things looked hopeful.

However, she said that disarmament of Hezbollah should be voluntary. Experts say this is unlikely.

BYU officials were encouraged. They consulted with government officials about renewing their student and study tour program. This program was closed in 2001 after violence erupted in Israel in the fall of 2000.

The McBrides were slated as tour guides for field trips that students take across the Holy Land. 44 students were selected out of 500 applicants.

A program was set up for December-September of 2006. Then it was determined that the prospect of peace in Israel is premature. BYU's program has been put on hold until further notice.

Peace in Israel is like the water in the Sea of Galilee. The surface looks calm, but it churns up as terrible storms hit.

(References -- U.S. News & World Report, Aug. 28, 2006, and The Ensign Magazine, August 2006)

Helen Ruth Arnold,


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