Martha asked:  “Have you heard of Armageddon?  This plain, this mountain to our right is Megiddio.  It’s where the battle is supposed to be fought.”

She mentioned the final showdown between God and Satan as casually as one might mention a Red Sox — Yankees weekend series.  But then, Martha’s not a New Testament kind of girl.

We had come to Israel to visit Martha and her family (Michael, Gerry, Ellie and Nati), our long time friends and one-time neighbors.  Mike and Martha had made aliyah, not once, but twice in the past fifteen years.

The second time they returned to Israel was difficult for us to understand.  Our children had become good friends, and it was difficult for us as non-Jews to understand the cultural and religious importance of living there.

As we planned our RTW, we resolved to visit the Habermans in Israel, making it a non-negotiable stop on the itinerary.

And now, here we were, looking at the place many Christians believe the end will begin.

“See way over there?” Martha asked.  She was pointing at what looked like some villas and townhomes in the distance.  “A real estate developer is selling homes and condos to people who want to be close by when Armageddon begins.”

We continued on to the town of Zikhron Ya’acov, north of Tel Aviv, south of Haifa.  We settled in to the comfortable Haberman home, with expansive Mediterranean views, then wandered in to town to enjoy a street festival.



Hundreds of people packed the town’s central pedestrian street, catching live music performances, grazing from food stalls.

We wandered a bit, and soon met some Haberman family friends.  When they found out we were from the United States, the talk turned to politics.  “What do you think of Obama?,” one asked.

“We’re big supporters,” I said.  “And judging from the reaction most of the places we’ve traveled, so is the rest of the world.”

After a lingering silence I said, “Obama seems to be fully committed to pursuing peace in the Middle East.  I read that George Mitchell arrived in Jerusalem yesterday.”  Then, naively I asked: “What do people think of the two-state solution?”

The friend looked at me with a smile.  “What do I think?,” he said.  “If you believe the Torah, there will be no peace until the Messiah comes.  Until then, nothing we do matters.”