Although I will be writing about my individual experiences and adventures in Israel, I wanted to address the secutiry issue. When I told people of my trip, that was the most frequent subject brought up, in one way or another.
I visited in March, 2015 on a press trip hosted by the Ministry of Tourism with a group of 40 professional travel journalists from the US and Canada. We had a wonderful 8 day itinierary visiting all the major sites, historic, religious and touristic.
At no time did I feel unsafe, nor did I see other other tourists in unsafe situations. I got the feeling, both in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, it’s about keeping the tourism business going, which feeds everyone.
It needs to be said, soliders with automatic weapons are a fact of life in Israel and you see them everywhere. In Jerusalem they are on almost every corner in the Old City and they are at every major tourist site. You also see armed guards at museums and large public buildings like malls. Beyond soldiers and guards, when we visited major sites like Masada, I saw the tour leaders of large Jewish groups with sidearms.
Overall, it was a beautiful, spiritual, amazing experience and I would highly recommend it anyone, regardless of your faith. I had a great time and look forward to returning.