Every year major Jewish organizations spend a ton of money (or charge a ton of money) to bring Hollywood groups to Israel.
At the moment, two separate delegations—one comprised mainly of television actors and the other, directors—are traveling through Israel as part of the Jewish Federation’s Tel Aviv/Los Angeles Partnership, The Creative Coalition and the American Israel Education Foundation, which is connected to AIPAC.
I’m currently at work on a story that investigates the impact of these trips and whether they actually inspire participants to become Israel advocates when they return home.
In the meantime, you can read about what these groups are doing over there at Haaretz. One interesting thing about these trips is how close they bring participants to Israeli political life. Virtually all of the trips conducted through the Federation and AIPAC get the opportunity to meet with Israeli leaders, from memebers of the Knesset, to the mayor of Jerusalem, to members of the executive office, including President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Neyanyahu. In what other country would tourist missions be given such access? The fact that guests are treated so honorably is one such indication of how much the Israeli government values these missions and believes in their ability to reflect positively on the country.
Read more at Haaretz:
The actors’ delegation, headed by Tim Daley, has 21 members, including Emmy award winner Joe Pantoliano (“The Sopranos” ), Andrea Bowen (“Desperate Housewives” ), Steven Weber (“Brothers and Sisters” ) and Giancarlo Esposito (“Once Upon a Time” ). The directors’ delegation also includes scriptwriters and senior studio executives, inter alia, Marta Kauffman, one of the creators of “Friends,” and Nina Tassler, who heads the CBS television network’s entertainment division.
Last night, the actors held a press conference at the Dan Hotel in Tel Aviv in which they detailed their itinerary, which includes visits to Sderot and Ramallah, a tour of the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum and a visit to an absorption center for Ethiopian immigrants. Actress Patricia Arquette (“Medium” ) said the goal of the trip was to learn about the “nuances” of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Actor Richard Schiff (“The West Wing” ) added that when they return to the United States, they plan to share what they have learned with their friends and others.