Some 3.5 million people will have visited Israel during 2012 by year's end. The number represents a 4 percent increase over last year, according to Israel's Ministry of Tourism.
“No Shopping!” guide Nadav Kersh admonished his charges as they entered the crowded Old City of Jerusalem. “I mean it. No shopping! It’s just too easy to get lost here.”
I was more than a little conflicted when Israel's Ministry of Tourism invited me to visit the Holy Land for one week in December to judge for myself whether the country was safe enough for tourists. I'd never traveled to Israel before, and while I knew that life was going on as usual for most Israelis, CNN's daily images of conflict and the U.S. State Department's warning fed my apprehension.