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​Fourteen journalists from Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Brazil and Panama traveled to Israel with B’nai B’rith from Sept. 20th to Sept. 27th to gain a better understanding of the Jewish state and the most pressing issues in the region. From politics to economics to high tech, the trip included a robust and complete picture of Israel for journalists who may previously had limited knowledge of Israel.
The journalists met with key political figures, attended journalism lectures, visited Israel’s contentious border areas, learned about the Israeli tech industry and went sightseeing in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Tiberias and Haifa. Participants posted on their social media accounts, with more than 300,000 combined followers, throughout the trip. They appeared live on television in Brazil and Panama and wrote stories for daily newspapers in Argentina, Chile and Uruguay. In the next few weeks, they are scheduled to speak about their experiences on several radio and television programs and will produce more written pieces.
The journalists met with Moshe Ya’alon, former minister of defense; Modi Ephraim, director of the Latin America division of the Foreign Ministry; Reuven Azar, political advisor to the prime minister; and Haim Jelin, a former member of the Knesset. The meeting with Jelin took place in his kibbutz, which is very close to the Gaza border.
Participants heard lectures from journalists Jana Beris and Sal Emergui about conflicts in the Middle East. Economist Danny Ben Simon gave a talk about Israel’s status as a start-up nation. Gabriel Ben Tasgal, who coordinated and guided the program, spoke about Israel’s political panorama and gave helpful explanations at every place included on the itinerary.
The schedule included visits to Christian sites in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, the Galilee, the Jordan River, Capernaum, Magdala and Jericho, as well as several politically contentious areas. In the Golan Heights, a captain in the Israel Defense Forces spoke to the group. Participants learned about the Jordanian border in Paduel and visited the borders with Gaza and Lebanon.
Journalists learned about Israel’s tech industry with visits to several important companies. In Herzliya, they interviewed the owner and founder of Watergen, which develops water-from-air solutions to combat water scarcity. They interviewed the owner of web development platform WIX.Com in Tel Aviv and interviewed the creator of a special wheelchair for children during a visit to Taglit. They also visited the enormous Sodastream factory, which is near Gaza, and interviewed the Jewish and Arab workers there.
In Jerusalem, journalists visited Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial, and the Mamila neighborhood, which houses many boutiques. While in Tel Aviv, they received a briefing on Jaffa and visited several places there. Their visit also included the Bahai Gardens in Haifa and the Dead Sea in Tiberias.