Few destinations on earth heap so much history into such a small space as does Israel. The roots of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam can be traced to a few holy spots on this country's map, places that have stood witness to both triumph and turmoil for thousands of years-and into the present day. A nation full of paradoxes and complexities, Israel offers visitors an experience that can be both sublime and raw.

To wander among the ancient trees of Gethsemane, the olive garden where Jesus is said to have prayed before being crucified; to stand at the Western Wall, symbol of the glory and the tragedy of Jewish history in Jerusalem; to look up at the gold Dome of the Rock, Islam's third-most sacred site-these are the things for which even the jaded traveler finds no comparison.

On the other hand, if service in Israel is efficient and adequate, it is still rather coolly delivered. And the sight of Israeli teenagers strolling by in army uniforms, huge black guns bouncing casually against their shoulder blades, reminds the visitor that Israel's tumultuous history continues to be written. (Meeting planners should address the security issue with attendees, perhaps more to establish the perception of safety than for the likelihood of an incident.)