Palestine Anyone?

Thanks so much for the helpful tips and suggestions for my upcoming work in Egypt.

Last year I had an op-ed piece published in USA Today about the value of understanding the Holy Land. I proposed that finding a way to humanize and give dignity and security to all its residents would be the best thing for Israel’s national security interests. This generated an amazing amount of feedback, both angry and encouraging. And this inspired me to produce a TV show with the same intent that my Iran TV special had: Take a troubled and complicated land that is embroiled in tension (or worse) with our government and treat it as a travel destination. It’s not hammering away at the typical divisive issues, but simply trying to understand the heritage and history of the people who live there. And it’s for viewers to see the value in visiting as a curious tourist who, rather than taking sides, simply wants to learn from a firsthand experience.

Our Iran experience was hugely gratifying. I’m hoping our Palestinian experience will be the same. In April (after Egypt), I’ll be in Israel and the West Bank to scout for two new TV shows: one on Israel and one on the Palestinian Territories. I’ve got a pretty good idea of what to feature in the Israel show. But I’m excited to learn about the West Bank as a tour guide.

There are a million video projects that take sides on the Israel/Palestine issue. The world doesn’t need a Rick Steves TV show piling it on that way. I simply want to feature the West Bank (no Gaza) as a tourist destination…to see its sights and learn about the age-old culture of its people. To humanize and better understand it.

If you have travel experience in the West Bank, what are some facets–cultural and geographic–that I should be sure to weave into my script? If you have a favorite guide who is Palestinian, I’d love the contact information.