Forget sitting in an air-conditioned think tank inside the Beltway-there's no substitute for getting on the ground to give you an up-close, intimate look at what's really going on in the West's struggle against radical Islamists.
Without a doubt, the state of Israel is the first line of defense in that existential struggle and literally the only nation standing between Judeo-Christian, Western civilization and the jihadist hordes of Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah, and the rest. Israel's recent Operation Pillar of Defense against Hamas terrorists in Gaza was just the latest example.
So needless to say, I was thrilled to spend the past week in Israel, interviewing top government officials and military spokespeople and traveling throughout the country-including hotspots like the Gaza border and Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria (also known to the so-called international community as "illegal Jewish settlements in the West Bank"). And of course, my favorite place in the world, the Eternal City of Jerusalem.
Here are some more details about my trip and a glimpse at what you'll see on upcoming episodes of the Stakelbeck on Terror Show:
-- Exclusive interviews with three of Israel's top government officials: Vice Prime Minister Moshe "Bogie" Yaalon, Minister of Public Diplomacy Yuli Edelstein and Deputy Knesset Speaker Danny Danon. Both Yaalon and Edelstein are in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanayhu's cabinet and I believe you may also see Danon-a rising star in Israeli politics-alongside them there very soon.
-- My trip to the war zone from Operation Pillar of Defense along the Gaza border, including briefings from the Israeli military and an up close and personal look at Israel's groundbreaking Iron Dome missile defense system. You'll also see my visit to Sderot: the Israeli town just a few miles form the Gaza border that has borne the horrifying and deadly brunt of the Hamas rocket assault for the past 12 years.
-- My day in Hebron-one of the ultimate cradles of the Bible, located in Judea. It is the burial place of the Patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and the Matriarchs, Sarah, Rebecca, and Leah. It was also where King David first established his kingdom, pre-Jerusalem. Yet Hebron today is a very precarious place for the brave Jews who have chosen to live there in the footsteps of their forefathers. They are surrounded by Palestinian Arabs who (surprise) are violently opposed to their presence.
--My day in the Biblical heartland of Samaria, visiting with local leaders and seeing all the great things that are happening in thriving communities like Ariel. According to the U.N. and its ilk, these beautiful communities-and not Iran, Hamas, and the Muslim Brotherhood-are the main obstacles to Middle East peace. Go figure.
--My visit to Gush Etzion, another so-called Israeli settlement where great things are happening-and local Arabs, sadly, are frequently harassing Jewish residents.
That's just a taste of what we saw and did in Israel and I'll look forward to sharing more with you in the weeks to come. This was my fourth trip to the Holy Land and something tells me it will be far from the last. Stay tuned and continue to pray for the peace of Jerusalem.
Contributing Editor Erick Stakelbeck is a terrorism analyst for CBN News.