I’m Heading to the Holy Land and Need Your Advice

p51-sexy-scarves-and-rickI am about to embark on an exciting TV production/tour-guiding adventure. My crew and I are preparing to fly to Israel in a couple of weeks to make new episodes for our TV series — one on Israel and one on the West Bank, or what’s also known as the Palestinian Territories or Palestine (to air in October 2014). We will also produce one hour-long show that will be a combination of the Israel and Palestine shows. That program will deal a little more directly with the tough issues of the day (to air in spring 2014).   In the spirit of our recent Iran documentary (if you haven’t seen it, you can watch it on Hulu), we plan to provide historical and cultural context. Our aim will be to humanize the Holy Land rather than just focus on the hard issues facing Israelis and Palestinians as they try to find a way to share the land they each consider sacred and their rightful homeland.   I have three requests for you:

First: I’m struggling with what to call the shows. Our Israel show is pretty easy: “The Best of Israel.” For the West Bank show (I won’t be dealing with Gaza), just choosing the term to describe the area is more challenging. Depending on your outlook, the region is called Judea and Samaria, The West Bank, Occupied Territories, Palestinian Territories, or Palestine. My working title is simply “Palestine.” Since this will be a half-hour episode in my travel series that treats the West Bank as a fascinating place to explore, what do you think is the best name for the land where Palestinians live west of the Jordan River, and why?

Second: The working title of the hour-long special is “The Holy Land: Israelis and Palestinians Today.” I want to use a form of the word Palestine in some way, but in reference to the people rather than the political unit — it makes it less contentious. Any advice on this one?

And third: I’ve been reading and watching documentaries and learning a lot about the region in preparation for our shoot. I’d love some recommendations on short videos or books that provide good cultural context for my work here. I don’t need material that tries to make you anti anybody.

I’ll be blogging during the trip and I’m excited to take you along on what promises to be a challenging and fascinating journey. Thanks and stay tuned.