The People of the Holy Land
(December 5- 14, 2019)
Israel has been referred to as the “Start Up Nation” due to its many achievements in the fields of medicine, computer technology and science, to name but a few areas. Whether it is drip irrigation, solar windows, the Epilady, flash drives, Hewlett Packard (HP)’s Indigo digital printing presses, the Pill Cam, WAZE navigation system, cherry tomatoes, Viber and much more.
Israel is also to many people a country that our U.S. policy must support, but there are also strong opinions that a settlement is needed in the decade’s long Israel-Palestine issue.
This unique tour to Israel will provide participants with the highlights of great food, culture, business and politics in an atmosphere of deluxe hotels and the opportunity to meet the people of Israel from many walks of life.
Joining us will be Jerry Sorkin, a specialist in Middle East affairs and a veteran, but quiet participant of previous back channel talks between Israelis and Palestinians.
Thursday, December 5 – Arrive in Israel
Upon your arrival in Ben Gurion’s airport, you will be transferred to Jerusalem and check into your beautiful hotel in central Jerusalem. You will rendezvous with your guide tomorrow morning to being your touring of Jerusalem. Overnight in Jerusalem. (L, D)
Friday, December 6 – Yad VaShem & Bethlehem
Following your breakfast, you meet with your guide and your host and specialist, Jerry Sorkin. You depart the hotel for your first excursion, taking you to Yad Vashem, a memorial dedicated to the Holocaust. A visit to Yad Vashem is almost a must of every visiting dignitary to Israel.
Following Yad Vashem, we drive to Bethlehem. Considered “Palestine” by its Arab residents, our trip to Bethlehem will include visits to the Christian holy sites, including the Church of the Nativity, said to mark the place of Jesus’s birth and Manger Square, the heart of Bethlehem, where Christmas Mass is said every year…a celebration that is annually marked with political overtones, providing one more example of the demographics that complicate issues in the Holy Land.
During our visit to Bethlehem, we will have a Palestinian guide who will provide us both religious commentary, as well as political explanations of what life is like for Palestinians in Bethlehem.
We return to Jerusalem where after having some time to refresh yourself, we go to a very nice restaurant for our “Welcome Dinner”. (B, L, D)
Saturday, December 7– Masada and Dead Sea
This morning you depart with your guide for a day in the south. We drive south to Masada, the mountain top Roman fortress where Jews sacrificed their lives to prevent rather than to succumb to Roman demands. The importance of Masada remains in the psychological and political mindset of many Israelis.
From Masada we travel to the Dead Sea, the lowest point on the earth. Bring your bathing suits so that you can take advantage of floating in water in which you will never sink, due to the density of the salt content. The Dead Sea is also the source for natural ingredients found in many cosmetics. Changing rooms/showers and towels will be provided in a very nice hotel.
Return to Jerusalem by early dinner. Dinner tonight is independent with many restaurants within a short walk from your hotel. We will provide you wish dining options to consider. Overnight in Jerusalem. (B, D)
Sunday, December 8 – Old City Jerusalem
Today’s touring includes the old city of Jerusalem; Jewish, Christian and Islamic sites, thus capturing all three religions.
We start the day at one of the most important sites to Muslims worldwide – the Dome of the Rock, known to Muslims as Haram es-Sharif.
The touring of old Jerusalem will continue with a walk along portions of the Via Dolorosa and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, thus following the walk that Jesus took and concluding at the church, where Jesus was said to be crucified.
We will enjoy lunch in the old city in a restaurant that serves local Arabic cuisine.
Following lunch, we visit the Jewish quarter and the Western wall, often referred to as the “kotel”, said to be the remaining wall of the 2nd Temple. There will then be ample time for shopping and independent time browsing the many alleyways and shops of the old city, for those who choose to do so.
This evening, back at the hotel, we will have a guest speaker who will discuss the reasons why Jerusalem is such an important site to the three religions and such as contested city to so many…
Following the talk and Q&A, we go to a “Foodie’s Heaven”, Mahane Yehuda, a popular fruit and produce market in West Jerusalem that would bustle with activity during the day and then close at night. In recent years, the dynamic has changed as Israel has become a country of diverse cuisine. Now the market takes on a new ambiance at night as food stalls, restaurants and cafes abound, providing a wonderful way to experience food. Overnight in Jerusalem. (B, L)
Monday, December 9 – Ramallah and Galilee
This morning we check out of our Jerusalem hotel and drive to the program continues to the West Bank city of Ramallah, accompanied by Palestinian journalist and activist, who will take us through this city which serves as the provisional capital of the Palestinian Authority.
We will have the opportunity to experience life in this vibrant and youthful city, as well as learn about the complications that Israeli policies impose upon the West Bank’s Palestinian population. To Palestinians, Ramallah is in Palestine. We will have the opportunity to hear from Palestinians about the issues they face and their hopes for a settlement in this long, unresolved issue.
From Ramallah, drive north to the Galilee region, stopping en route in Nazareth, the largest Arab town in Israel. We will visit the Church of the Annunciation, among the Christian sites of Nazareth.
Following lunch, you drive north to the Galilee region, stopping en route in Nazareth, the largest Arab town in Israel. We will visit the Church of the Annunciation, among the Christian sites of Nazareth.
From Nazareth, we continue north to the Golan Heights, where we will be based for two nights. This will not only provide a peaceful, rural setting, but an opportunity to learn about the role of kibbutzim (the plural for kibbutz) in the development of Israel in the 20th century, as well as the impact kibbutz life has had that has resulted in having so many successful “kibbutzniks” in Israel’s world of politics, academia and within the high-ranking military.
Overnight in the Golan Heights. (B, L, D)
Tuesday, December 10 – Galilee and Golan
We start the day in the hotel with a presentation by an IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) about some of the activities that have transformed the Golan Heights since it was taken over by Israel following the war of June 1967. Afterwards proceed with him for a security briefing in a venue overlooking the Golan Heights.
Today will continue with a visit to a Druze village in the Golan. The Druze are an Arab speaking sect found primarily in the mountainous areas of northern Israel, Syria and Lebanon. Their religious practices and beliefs are known to few outsiders and Druze as a people often take on the allegiance of the country where they live. As a result, many Druze proudly serve in the Israeli defense forces and in the police.
We will have the opportunity to meet with some Druze in the Golan Heights area and have lunch in a Druze home in the Golan.
This afternoon we visit a Golan Heights Winery, one of the many success stories of Israel’s growing wine industry.
Return to our kibbutz home, where we will have home hospitality for dinner. Overnight in the Golan. (B, L, D)
Wednesday, December 11 – Haifa, Caesarea, Tel Aviv
This morning we leave the Golan and drive west to Haifa, some twenty-minutes away, where we see the Bahai Gardens and meet with an Arab owned tech firm. Israel’s success in the hi-tech industry is well-known, but the rise of Arab owned firms and their role in the industry is relatively recent. We will have the opportunity to meet with members of one such firm and hear about what they have had to overcome to earn their role in this industry. While Israel has become well-known as a high-tech capital, the Arab sector is still in the early stages of being a part of this financial boom! Lunch will take place in the startup company’s offices, making discussion very casual.
From Haifa, we drive south along the coast, stopping briefly in the Roman city of Caesarea along the coast, where we will have a tour of this archaeological site.
From Caesarea, we proceed south to Tel Aviv, arriving by early evening.
Dinner tonight is independent with suggestions being provided. Many great options within walking or a short ride from our seaside hotel. Overnight in Tel Aviv. (B, L)
Thursday, December 12 – Tel Aviv area
This morning’s touring takes us through various neighborhoods that show some of Tel Aviv’s development, including the Bauhaus architecture, Dizengoff, Neve Tzedek, the Florentine district and more.
Enjoy a Shuk bites lunch in Shuk HaCarmel, Tel Aviv’s outdoor and indoor produce market…another “foodie” scene, where you will have the opportunity of lunch made up of a sampling of many cuisines.
Following lunch, we drive to Ramat Aviv to visit the Rabin Center (TBD).
Return to the hotel to freshen up.
Dinner tonight in a wonderful venue in Jaffa, a special art and culinary center.
Overnight in Tel Aviv. (B, L, D)
Friday, December 13 – Tel Aviv area
This morning we drive to Jaffa, where among the sites to visit are Friday’s Jaffa flee market, which provides a wonderful mix of foodie opportunities, art, antiques and fun! Lunch will be independent, so you can choose to sample the many offerings as you wish. The remainder of the afternoon is independent, providing you ample time to enjoy the seaside setting of our hotel, exploring Tel Aviv by rental bikes or just visiting the galleries and other shopping opportunities around Tel Aviv.
This evening we rendezvous for your “Farewell Dinner”. Overnight in Tel Aviv. (B, D)
Saturday, December 15 – Departure
Departure transfers to the airport for flight home or to your next destination.
NOTE: Iconic Journeys Worldwide reserves the right to modify or adapt the itinerary to circumstances that may require changes. These can range from unexpected traffic issues, security issues, booked speakers’ making last minute cancellations. In such cases, efforts will be made to adapt accordingly.
Jerusalem: Herbert Samuel Hotel ★★★★★
Upper Galilee: Merom Golan- A special kibbutz property
Enjoy this quiet, wooded rural retreat while staying in the kibbutz homes, each a one bedroom, fully equipped home.
The Carlton Hotel (Tel Aviv) ★★★★★
Contemporary interiors, spacious rooms and a seaside presence make this one of Tel Aviv’s most sought after hotels.
Cost of $6,875 per person
Single Supplement: $1,425
- All touring and entrance fees on sites noted on itinerary.
- Private guide and vehicle with driver
- Hotels as described on itinerary, including breakfast.
- All meals indicated by B, L, or D. Any other references to meals are for narrative purposes, only.
- VIP Airport transfers on arrival and departure
- Honorariums to all guest speakers and organizations visited
- International air
- Any purchases of a personal nature, hotel expenditures such as laundry, mini-bar, business center related expenses and spa expenses. All expenses in addition to included room and breakfast.
- Travel/trip insurance. Travel Insurance is strongly encouraged. Penalties in the case of cancellation or expenses in the event of an unexpected illness or injury can be costly
- Gratuities to guide and driver.