The Case for Understanding Israel’s Past While Experiencing Its Future

The challenge faced by many tour operators seeking to plan meaningful and significant trips for visitorsis evident. There is so much to see in the country, and most tours have limited time.

by Jeannie Gerzon

Benji Lovitt’s “Israel Programs: The Case for Tel Aviv” and Dr. Zohar Raviv’s response, “Israel Programs: The Case for Sound Educational Critique” draw attention to the importance of linking Tel Aviv to the story of the modern State of Israel. Aside from being the metropolis of Israel, Tel Aviv’s establishment just over 100 years ago is the key to the story of the modern day state. It is the pulse of the country and symbol of secular society. It is also where the independence struggle was directed from in 1948, and the location which the state of Israel was declared.

Visitors to Tel Aviv have the opportunity to learn about the country and its people through a multitude of sites and museums, giving the benefit of experiencing Israeli society while learning its history. Among those sites is Independence Hall (located on Rothschild Boulevard in the heart of Tel Aviv). Through exhibits that are original, or precisely reconstructed, visitors are transported back in time to when Ben-Gurion declared the establishment of the State of Israel. Another not-to-be-missed and relatively new site is The Yitzhak Rabin Center, national memorial to the late prime minister, defense minister and Nobel laureate (located atop a historic hill in Ramat Aviv (currently accessed on Chaim Levanon Street). Although Yitzhak Rabin was born in Jerusalem he lived most of his life in Tel Aviv and thus Tel Aviv was selected as the most suitable site for the official tribute. It is primarily an education center containing a museum which tells the story of the modern state. It is through this setting that visitors who tour the country get not only context on Israel’s history but also a better understanding of its people. Lastly, The Palmach Museum (located in Ramach Aviv) is a great destination for those looking to learn experientially about the history of the IDF. Visitors to the museum virtually join a group of young Palmach recruits from its establishment, and advance through the story of the Palmach until the end of the War of Independence.

The challenge faced by many tour operators seeking to plan meaningful and significant trips for visitors who have never, and might not ever again see Israel is evident. There is so much to see in the country, and most tours have limited time. However, without making Tel Aviv visits a priority and more of an educational experience, visitors get a very limited perspective of Israeli society and how it evolved.

Jeannie Gerzon is the National Director of the American Friends of the Yitzhak Rabin Center. She also served as executive director of the American Committee for the Tel Aviv Foundation and she has a Masters degree from the New School for Social Research (NY) in Tourism Marketing Management.

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