Perhaps more than any other country on the planet, Israel embodies the truly ancient and the thoroughly modern.  Possessing over three thousand years of recorded history, it is a land conquered and lost by most of the major civilizations between Central Asia and the Atlantic. Experience the legacy of centuries of history in this remarkable country where the very old and the very new meet and mix.

 

Program highlights:

  • Three monotheistic religions in the Old City of Jerusalem
  • Bedouin culture and star gazing in the desert
  • Underground Crusader city in Akko
  • Territories and settlements: a nuanced and challenging reality
  • Coexistence in modern Israel
  • Encounters with agents of societal change

What’s included:

  • 8 nights’ accommodation
  • Welcome reception
  • Daily breakfast at hotels
  • 6 dinners
  • 7 lunches
  • Full guiding services of an expert tour educator
  • Site visits
  • Speakers
  • Airport transfers for participants arriving and departing at suggested times
  • Transportation in an air-conditioned coach

 

Day 1: Arrive in Tel Aviv, opening session

Day 2: Tel Aviv from Independence to the 21st century

Day 3: Different aspects of the Galilee

Day 4: Christian sites by the Sea of Galilee and geopolitics and security on the border with Syria

Day 5: Akko and Coexistence

Day 6: Jerusalem and the three monotheistic faiths

Day 7: Israeli settlements and Palestinian territories-Judea and Samaria/West Bank

Day 8: Water issues en route to the Negev desert

Day 9: Cyber in Be’er-Sheva and the Gaza border region

 

Day 1: Setting the Scene

  • Arrival and opening session with cocktails at Independence Hall:Israel, the State of the State” with Aluf Benn, respected editor of the Haaretz newspaper. The venue is where David Ben Gurion declared the independence of the state in 1948.
  • Check-in to hotel
  • Dinner at one of the city’s top restaurants: Tel Aviv’s culinary scene has earned the city the ranking of one of the ten best in the world, according to a recent Conde Nast Traveler survey, with a cuisine that showcases a fusion of traditional Middle Eastern and Mediterranean specialties, carefully prepared using cutting edge techniques.

Overnight: Tel Aviv

 


Day 2:  Modern Israel – Challenges and Successes 

  • Trace Israel’s fight for Independence along the Tel Aviv-Jaffa seashore by either walking, biking, electric biking or travelling by Segway along the seafront promenade, pausing en route at sites where fighting took place in 1948.
  • Visit the Bialik-Rogozin School in south Tel Aviv.  The subject of the Oscar-award winning documentary Strangers No More, the school educates children of immigrant workers, both legal and illegal, from over 30 different countries.
  • Lunch in Old Jaffa, gateway to the Holy Land and, according to the legend, the port from whence Jonah set sail towards his fateful encounter with the whale.
  • Visit the Birthright Innovation Center.  Israel is widely known as the “start-up nation” and is recognized as a major player in the fields of innovation, R & D and entrepreneurship.  The center allows you to learn about the new advancements Israeli start-ups are making in different fields such as science, medicine, security, space and more. Each group that visits the Innovation Center begins by exploring the interactive exhibition and continues with a one-on-one meet up with a leading Israeli entrepreneur.
  • Drive down beautiful Rothschild Boulevard and view the unique Bauhaus architecture which has earned the city its status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, before walking through the picturesque area of Neve Tzedek.
  • Free evening

Overnight: Tel Aviv

 


Day 3: Understanding the Ancient and Modern Stones

  • After breakfast, take part in a session with Professor Arnon Sofer or Professor Sergio Della Pergola, authorities on the demographics of the Middle East.  What do the demographics of the country tell us about its future? What percentage of the population will be Muslim or Ultra-Orthodox by 2030? How many Palestinians and settlers will be living in the West Bank by 2020?
  • Check-out of hotel and proceed north.
  • Explore Megiddo, one of the most important archeological sites in Israel.  The millennia-old city is mentioned in ancient Egyptian writings and said to be the site of the New Testament’s account of Armageddon in the book of Revelations.  The site was the inspiration for James Michener’s book  The Source.
  • Continue to Sindyanna of Galilee, a unique non-profit organization led by a team of Arab and Jewish women working to create social change from the ground up. Their goals are to produce outstanding olive oil and other premium food products, while enhancing Arab-Jewish cooperation, promoting fair trade, creating economic opportunities for Arab women, and assisting local growers and producers.  Lunch cooked by the women on site.
  • Meet with IDF soldiers manning the outposts at Kibbutz Malkiye, on the border with Lebanon.
  • Dinner at kibbutz guest house.
  • Late night tour of the ‘slik’ (arms cache) at the kibbutz: one of the many secret storerooms where ‘illegal’ weapons were hid and set up in the years of the British Mandate, this  cache was only rediscovered in the 1980’s as the veteran kibbutz members had kept its existence a secret throughout their lives.

Overnight: Kfar Giladi

 


Day 4: Geopolitics and Settlement throughout the Ages

  • Tour Tel Dan. Evidence of recorded settlements located on-site date from as early as 4,500 BCE, during the Bronze age, and are mentioned in the books of Joshua, Judges and Isaiah.
  • Board ATV’s for an off-road ride through the foothills of the Golan Heights, on the border with Syria. At Mt. Bental, listen to a security briefing by Avi Melamed, a former Israeli intelligence officer and an expert on Arab affairs, with a particular emphasis on the Hezbollah movement in Lebanon and Syria.
  • Lunch at the Pelter Boutique Winery. The Golan Heights have been producing outstanding wines for some 40 years, due to the volcanic soil and particular weather conditions, and this winery is particularly known for its excellent white wines.
  • Continue to Magdala on the Sea of Galilee: excavations have recently began on site, with the discovery of an entire first-century Jewish town lying just below the surface. With only 10% of the archaeological finds uncovered, the hometown of Mary Magdalene already provides pilgrims with an authentic location to walk where Jesus once taught and to connect with the first century life of Jesus’ followers.  Meet with Father Nazzal, a pioneer in encouraging Christian Israeli youth to enlist in the IDF.
  • The ancient town of Safed is home to the Kabbalah movement and many old synagogues, galleries and alleyways. Free time to wander through the town and meet with Kabbalistic artist Abraham Lowenthal in his studio.
  • Dinner in the town of Rosh Pina.

Overnight: Kfar Giladi

 


Day 5:  The Path of Independence from the Mediterranean to Jerusalem

  • Check-out of guesthouse and enjoy a tour of the kibbutz.
  • Drive west along the border with Lebanon towards the Mediterranean Sea.
  • The ancient city of Akko features a multitude of fortresses, citadels, churches and mosques all depicting the history of the many rulers to mention a few – Canaanites, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Crusaders and Mamelukes – who governed and fought for this city throughout history.  Its colorful Oriental markets, museums and beaches are a few more of the city’s notable attractions.  The old city of Akko has been designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Walk through the underground Crusader city, the Templar tunnel and visit the Tunisian Synagogue, the White Mosque and the Mandate period prison.
  • Enjoy lunch at the home of Evan Fallenberg with Akko residents: coexistence in action. Writer/translator Evan Fallenberg bought an old home in Akko and, in the process of renovating, learned about the history of the town and the house, befriended his Christian and Muslim neighbors, and became a proud resident himself.
  • Drive to Jerusalem.
  • Late afternoon arrival and panoramic view from the Mount of Olives, overlooking the Old City.
  • Check-in to hotel and free evening.

Overnight: Jerusalem

 


Day 6:  The Many Layers of Jerusalem 

  • Tour the “Haram Al Sharif” Temple Mount complex with Muslim scholar Dr. Ali Qleibo, cultural anthropologist, author, artist and lecturer on the Muslim religion and Palestinian culture. The site, sacred to Jews and Muslims, contains the Dome of the Rock and the Al Aksa Mosque and is the site on which the ancient Jewish Temples once stood.
  • Continue through the Old City, visiting the Christian and Jewish Quarters including the Western Wall Tunnels, the City of David, the Via Dolorosa and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.
  • Lunch with the Chefs for Peace in the Old City market: founded in 2001, the organization promotes coexistence through cooking.  Every event includes one Muslim, one Jewish, and one Christian chef, all with absolute devotion to traditional recipes and local produce.
  • Tour Mt. Zion, alleged home to King David’s tomb and the Room of the Last Supper and the Church ofSt. Peter in Gallicantu, the site where tradition holds that Peter denied knowing Jesus, and where the rooster crowed three times.
  • Dinner at the Bible Lands Museum with Father Eamonn Kelly from the Notre Dame Institute, and Rabbi Shlomo Riskin of the Christian and Jewish Council for Understanding and Cooperation (CJCUC).  A special tour of the museum will be given by Amanda Weiss, daughter of the founder of the museum (subject to availability).

Overnight: Jerusalem

 


Day 7: The UN, the People and the Land – Whose Land is it? 

  • After breakfast, take part in a briefing with Dr. Ronen Hoffman, former Knesset member and expert in crisis management, conflict resolution, and anti-terrorism policy.
  • Participate in a seam line tour of Jerusalem and view some of these neighborhoods: Gilo, Armon Hanatziv, and Har Homa, all which overlook Arab neighborhoods and where Jews and Arabs reside side by side on the city’s seam line. We will have a multi-dimensional overview of current issues concerning Jerusalem today, including the controversial security fence accompanied by Col. (Res.) Dany Tirza, known as the architect of the security fence.
  • Meet with settlers in Gush Etzion, one of the largest settlement blocs in the West Bank, and an area which by Israeli consensus will not be relinquished in any future political agreement. The tour will end with an overview of the southern West Bank from Neve Daniel and a meeting with Mayor Oded Revivi, who will discuss his view of life in the area.
  • Lunch at Gavna in Gush Etzion.
  • Meet with “Shorashim (“Roots”), an NGO active in promoting Jewish-Arab coexistence, dialogue, and eventually trust between Israelis and Palestinian as a path to peace.
  • Drive the short distance through the nearby checkpoint into Bethlehem, where we will tour the 4th century Church of the Nativity.  Participate in a dialogue with Palestinian officials.
  • Return to Jerusalem and enjoy free time for dinner in the Machane Yehuda food and spice market, which becomes a maze of bars, restaurants, and music venues at night.
  • Almost one quarter of Jerusalem’s residents are Jewish Ultra-Orthodox, living essentially as they did in the 17th century in Europe. Take part in an optional late night tour of the Mea Shearim quarter (modest dress a must).

Overnight: Jerusalem

 


Day 8: Water and Peace  

  • EcoPeace Middle East is a unique organization that brings together Jordanian, Palestinian, and Israeli environmentalists.  Its primary objective is the promotion of cooperative efforts to protect shared environmental heritage. In so doing, it seeks to advance both sustainable regional development and the creation of necessary conditions for lasting peace in the region.  EcoPeace has offices in Amman, Bethlehem, and Tel Aviv.  Meet with activist Mira Edelstein at Qasr El Yahud, the baptism spot on the Jordan River which straddles the border between Israel and Jordan.
  • Continue south along the shores of the Dead Sea and hike to the waterfalls at Ein Gedi, known for its caves, springs, and its rich diversity of flora and fauna.
  • Enjoy a swim in the unsinkable waters of the Dead Sea followed by a break for spa treatments and a chance to try the mud baths at the luxurious Herods  Hotel, lunch included (spa treatments at additional charge).
  • Ascend Masada by cable car and tour King Herod’s historic hilltop fortress, where a small band of Jewish zealots took refuge after the Roman destruction of the Second Temple in 70 BCE, resisting a prolonged siege by the Roman army.
  • Continue through the Negev Desert to Mitzpe Ramon, the development town perched on the edge of the unique geological formation known as the Ramon Crater.
  • Check in to the Beresheet Hotel before joining in a Bedouin feast and star gazing evening. No visit to the Negev is complete without a visit to a Bedouin encampment for traditional hospitality and a “hafla”, followed by spectacular star gazing due to the very low levels of light pollution in the area.

Overnight: Beresheet Hotel, Mitzpe Ramon

 


Day 9: Towards a Safer Tomorrow 

  • Enjoy a leisurely breakfast and late check-out to allow for spa treatments or early morning swim (spa treatments not included in tour cost).
  • Drive north to the Cyber City in Be’er-Sheva: under the guidance of dynamic Mayor Ruvik Danilovich, Be’er-Sheva is reinventing itself as a center for innovation and the cyber industry.  Meet with young entrepreneurs and scientists living and working in the city.
  • Life on the border in the Otef Aza (Gaza border) region.  The kibbutzim and moshavim bordering the Gaza strip bear the brunt of constant rocket attacks, infiltrations and random shootings. Meet with residents for their insights into life here and add a piece to the Peace Wall at Netiv Ha Asara.
  • Dinner en route to airport and late night check-in for return flight.

 

*Itinerary is subject to change pending circumstances beyond our control*

 

From USD 3,995 per person sharing a twin room, land package.

Supplement for accommodations in a single room: USD 1,275

Rates are based on a minimum of 15 participants per group.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Avi Melamed

Avi serves as the Salisbury Fellow of Intelligence and Middle East Affairs for the Eisenhower Institute, and is an expert on current affairs in the Arab and Muslim world and their impact on Israel and the Middle East.  He is a former Israeli intelligence officer and senior official on Arab affairs.  Fluent in Arabic, English, and Hebrew, he has held high-risk government, senior advisory, intelligence and counter-terrorist intelligence positions in Arab cities-often in very sensitive times-on behalf of Israeli government agencies.

 


Aluf Benn

Aluf Benn is the editor-in-chief of Haaretz, one of Israel’s most major newspapers, widely associated with academia. Previously, he held several writing and editing positions including diplomatic correspondent, chief news editor and opinion editor. As a reporter in the field of national security since 1986, he has fought government secrecy and censorship, winning a landmark Supreme Court case on press freedom in 1989, exposing the worst corruption case in the IDF history, and publishing the secret intelligence budgets and the details of a hushed-up Israeli-Iranian legal battle over billions of dollars. He covered six Israeli prime ministers from Yitzhak Rabin through Binyamin Netanyahu’s second term. His work appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Foreign Affairs, and The Guardian. He holds a joint MBA degree from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and the Recanati School of Business at Tel Aviv University.

 


Dr. Ali Qleibo

Dr. Qleibo is an anthropologist, author, and artist. A specialist in the social history of Jerusalem and Palestinian peasant culture, he is the author of Before the Mountains Disappear, Jerusalem in the Heart, and Surviving the Wall, an ethnographic chronicle of contemporary Palestinians and their roots in ancient Semitic civilizations. Dr. Qleibo lectures at Al-Quds University.

 


Father Eamonn Kelly

Father Kelly hails from County Clare, Ireland and joined the Congregation of the Legion of Christ at the Dublin Novitiate in 1974. Following studies at Salamanca, Spain, the Pontifical Gregorian University and the Pontifical University of St Thomas Aquinas, both in Rome, he gained extensive experience directing youth ministry in the Greater Detroit area, Michigan, and later in development work across North America. He was ordained a priest in 1987.

 


Dr. Ronen Hoffman

Dr. Hoffman is an academic and former member of the 19thKnesset, representing the Yesh Atid party. In the Knesset he served as a member of the Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee and chaired the Foreign Affairs and Public Diplomacy sub-committee, coordinating the oversight of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry for Strategic Affairs, the National Information Directorate of the Prime Minister’s Office and departments within the Ministry of Defense.

Dr. Hoffman holds a Ph.D. in War Studies from Kings College, London. His expertise is in the field of Political Psychology, focusing on the psychological and cultural barriers in the areas of conflict resolution and political negotiations.

Dr. Hoffman served as the personal assistant to the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, during which time he coordinated the Israeli delegation’s peace negotiations with Syria.

Dr. Hoffman has served as a senior adviser to the Minister of Defense as well as an adviser to the Minister of Health, focusing on international economic cooperation.

 


Dr. Dany Tirza

Dr. Tirza began his long military career (1977-2007) as a combat soldier and commander of regimental units in Judea and Samaria (1980-1994).  In 1994, he was appointed head of a special staff in charge of the regional and strategic planning which provided assistance to the government including the Prime Minister and Minister of Defense in their decision making process on security and regional issues.   In this capacity he was in charge of planning Israel’s security infrastructure (including the security barrier in and around Jerusalem) and participated in ‘thinking teams’ at the Prime Minister’s Office, the National Security Council and the Control Terrorism Bureau.  He has participated in Israeli delegations to peace negotiations with the Palestinians as an expert on territorial issues and mapping.

 

Get Offer...

logo_2Providing Deeper Conversations Regarding Israel & the Middle East      logo_4cruise_planners_logo

Accessibility