Israelis ‘Tour’ Iran, No Visas Necessary

By Nathan Burstein

Published February 18, 2009, issue of February 27, 2009.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Iran hasn’t issued many tourist visas to Israelis lately, but that isn’t stopping a group of Hebrew speakers from spending a weekend there — at least “virtually.”

In a first-of-its-kind retreat, scheduled for late March, Israelis from a variety of backgrounds will gather for A Unique Weekend in Iran, billed by organizers as a “virtual tour” of the country, highlighting its art, history, culture and cuisine. Hosted at the Hof Hatmarim Hotel in Akko, the weekend-long getaway will kick off with a slideshow offering participants a look at “a gorgeous, fascinating land,” often obscured in news reports by the “dark, threatening veil of the Islamic regime.” Coming less than two weeks after Purim, the weekend will also include a lecture examining connections between the Book of Esther and the traditions of ancient Iran, as well Persian meals, a masquerade ball set in “the courtyard of King Ahasuerus” and a celebration of Norooz, the Persian new year.

Priced at slightly less than 2,000 shekels (roughly $500) per couple, the weekend will showcase “a deeper, more significant dimension” of Iran, the event’s lead organizer, David Nissan, told The Shmooze in an e-mail. “The Israeli public is very thirsty to be exposed to other aspects of this country,” wrote Nissan, who based the weekend’s schedule partly on lectures he’s been giving to fellows Israelis for the past 10 years.

A native of Iran who arrived in Israel for college in 1975, Nissan said he expects about 150 participants at the “unique weekend.” He predicted that about half would be fellow immigrants from the country. “Regarding the non-Iranian Israelis, I expect them to be surprised — even amazed — to be exposed to parts of Iran they never knew existed,” he wrote.

A terrorism researcher in his professional life, Nissan said he enjoys leading other Israelis on his virtual trips home, but he also said the “travel” has a practical purpose. “I believe that it is crucially important to view your current enemy not only from the military/strategic/political aspects,” he wrote, “but to also understand the people, the history, the culture, the background of whoever is confronting you and is making provocative declarations regarding the need for your destruction.”


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Happy birthday to the Boy Who Lived! July 31 marks the day that Harry Potter — and his creator, J.K. Rowling — first entered the world. Harry is a loyal Gryffindorian, a matchless wizard, a native Parseltongue speaker, and…a Jew?
  • "Orwell would side with Israel for building a flourishing democracy, rather than Hamas, which imposed a floundering dictatorship. He would applaud the IDF, which warns civilians before bombing them in a justified war, not Hamas terrorists who cower behind their own civilians, target neighboring civilians, and planned to swarm civilian settlements on the Jewish New Year." Read Gil Troy's response to Daniel May's opinion piece:
  • "My dear Penelope, when you accuse Israel of committing 'genocide,' do you actually know what you are talking about?"
  • What's for #Shabbat dinner? Try Molly Yeh's coconut quinoa with dates and nuts. Recipe here:
  • Can animals suffer from PTSD?
  • Is anti-Zionism the new anti-Semitism?
  • "I thought I was the only Jew on a Harley Davidson, but I was wrong." — Gil Paul, member of the Hillel's Angels. http://jd.fo/g4cjH
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • "My husband has been offered a terrific new job in a decent-sized Midwestern city. This is mostly great, except for the fact that we will have to leave our beloved NYC, where one can feel Jewish without trying very hard. He is half-Jewish and was raised with a fair amount of Judaism and respect for our tradition though ultimately he doesn’t feel Jewish in that Larry David sort of way like I do. So, he thinks I am nuts for hesitating to move to this new essentially Jew-less city. Oh, did I mention I am pregnant? Seesaw, this concern of mine is real, right? There is something to being surrounded by Jews, no? What should we do?"
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • What Thomas Aquinas might say about #Hamas' tunnels:
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.