Tourists swap pool for se­cu­rity bar­rier

The Jewish Chronicle - - World News - BY NATHAN JEFFAY

BRITS HOL­I­DAY­ING in Is­rael are be­ing urged to leave the ho­tel and take a dip into pol­i­tics with a day trip to the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Yachad, the left-wing pro-Is­rael group, has started run­ning ex­cur­sions to these ar­eas. For £45, Bri­tish vis­i­tors to Is­rael are taken to He­bron — where 800 set­tlers live close to more than 150,000 Pales­tini­ans — and shown around by a guide and a Yachad rep­re­sen­ta­tive.

They are then taken to East Jerusalem, where they walk along the se­cu­rity bar­rier and dis­cuss, among other top­ics, chal­lenges fac­ing Pales­tini­ans who live there.

“There is a real in­ter­est among Bri­tish Jews to un­der­stand what is go­ing on there, and lots of peo­ple want to see more when they are in Is­rael than a nice café in Tel Aviv or a beach in Ei­lat,” said Yachad’s di­rec­tor Han­nah We­is­feld. “Re­gard­less of where you stand po­lit­i­cally, it’s im­por­tant to see, and peo­ple don’t have the op­por­tu­nity, as they won’t go there alone.”

Ms We­is­feld said that the tours will help to strengthen sup­port among Brit- ish Jews for Yachad’s ideal, namely a two-state so­lu­tion.

The first trip of the sum­mer, which took place last week, at­tracted eight par­tic­i­pants and had a strong ef­fect on Howard Tay­lor, a stu­dent from Lon­don. He said that the visit to He­bron “has changed my pol­i­tics”. He was con­cerned­bylim­i­ta­tion­son­the­move­ment of a group of Pales­tini­ans around the set­tlers’ en­clave, and dis­turbed when some set­tlers pelted them with stones. Mr Tay­lor came away with a neg­a­tive view of set­tlers, be­liev­ing that di­as­pora Jewry should pres­sure Is­rael to no longer “fund and pro­tect these peo­ple”.

Brian Ka­plan, a Lon­don doc­tor, reached a dif­fer­ent con­clu­sion. He was in­ter­ested to see the at­tach­ment of set­tlers to the area and said that he was op­posed to a “Jew-free Pales­tine”. He ar­gued that set­tlers should be able to stay there un­der Pales­tinian rule.

PHOTO: YACHAD

The Yachad tour group in He­bron

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