Tuesday, 500 tourists from France landed in Ben Gurion Airport with smiles on their faces. The desire to vacation in Israel or to celebrate family events in the Holy Land brought them here – despite, or perhaps because of, the war in the north – and no religious fanaticism.
One is marrying off her daughter, another is celebrating her son's bar-mitzvah, and another decided to place a note in the Western Wall - maybe that will help. Katyushas? Sirens? Shelters? They won't put a damper on their vacation.
"We are not afraid," declared the tourists, most of them Jewish, who are planning to stay in Israel anywhere between a week to three weeks. Some of them also declared that by hook or by crook they would visit the north.
"In France it's more dangerous. There, the Muslims are giving us a hard time," said Simcha Barnav, who came for her daughter's wedding. "I invited 50 guests from France to my son's bar-mitzvah," bragged Lorns Sitbonne, as she held her son against her. "Only one invitee didn't come and she is more than 70 years old, so she's allowed."
Minister of Tourism, Isaac Herzog, welcomed them. "You are our ambassadors in the world, showing that life in Israel continues despite the recent events," he said to the tourists, wishing them a pleasant and quiet vacation in both Hebrew and broken French. In the reception hall, we also met Janette Bougenet, the dream of every proud Jewish grandchild. "Scared?" she was astonished, "What, have you completely gone nuts?"
Jannette frequently visits Israel and immediately bought a plane ticket when she heard war broke out here. Her children told her to be careful, but she didn't heed. Don't tell the kids, but she plans on visiting all her Israeli relatives, even those who live in the north. In the video clip, you can see and hear her enthusiastically singing, "We bring peace upon you." And she really means it.