Biblical Archaeology Review 27:5, September/October 2001

First Person: Assessing “the Situation”

A recent trip to Israel finds few tourists but plenty of archaeology

By Hershel Shanks

I went to Israel in late June to film part of a video the Biblical Archaeology Society is producing on “An Archaeological Search for Jesus.” (It won’t be out for at least another year, however.) It has three principal segments—Galilee, Jerusalem and Qumran (near where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found); on this trip we filmed most of the Galilee segment. Israel was as exciting and wonderful as usual—except there were almost no tourists. Israelis were pleased and grateful that I had come, despite what they refer to as “the situation.” The near-absence of tourists was noticeable all over. It is painful for Israelis, who feel somewhat abandoned by their American friends. For me, it had some advantages. On the overnight flight, which I dread, I had a row of three seats to spread out on. When we arrived, I got through passport control and picked up my car in ten minutes flat. On the other hand, Beni Dagim (Benny Fish)—where for 30 years I’ve been eating Jerusalem’s finest grilled St. Peter’s fish with a side of marinated eggplant topped with leban (yogurt)—is now closed.

Join the BAS Library!

Already a library member? Log in here.

Institution user? Log in with your IP address.