- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 8, 2003

JERUSALEM It may be the ultimate in action holidays rising at 6 every morning, weapons training and surviving a full-scale terrorist attack.

The attack will be feigned, but the price 22 young Americans and Canadians are willing to pay for the experience of living in fear for five days in an Israeli settlement on the West Bank is real enough $5,500, including air fare.

With tourism to Israel having virtually disappeared since the outbreak of the Palestinian uprising two years ago, two American immigrants living in a settlement have come up with the idea of making a virtue of necessity by appealing to tourists seeking to spice up their lives with a bit of action.

"They'll get full value for their money," said Yehezkel Klein, head of tourism for the Gush Etzion bloc of settlements south of Jerusalem where the program is to be carried out.

"From the moment they cross the 'green line' [separating Israel proper from the West Bank] and find themselves in hostile territory they will feel in real danger of their lives. They'll sweat from fear. We'll bring them as close as possible to the friction points with the Palestinians," he said.

"We, of course, will provide them with maximum protection so that no one will be hurt."

The Shiloh tour package is organized by Jay Greenblad, a former Pittsburgh tire salesman who moved to Israel in 1996, and Yehoshua Mizrahi, a former kosher meat distributor who immigrated to the West Bank last year from Baltimore.

Mr. Greenblad said he realized after the September 11 attacks that he could help prepare Americans for such horrors by using his own experiences from living in Israel.

"We have experts in Israel, and we should impart our knowledge," said Mr. Greenblad, who lives at the West Bank settlement of Neve Daniel, where he met Mr. Mizrahi.

The tourists are promised a stay at an Israeli army bunker, military-style food, weapons training and physical training by veterans of elite commando units and night patrols along the fence of an Israeli settlement.

"A night patrol with the knowledge that there is a chance of imminent battle is an experience they will never forget," the promoters promise.

On the final day of their stay, they will themselves experience a "terrorist attack" by instructors firing blank bullets.

Participants will get their own army fatigues and a chance to sit in an Israeli F-15 fighter jet.

The Shiloh program is named after a Civil War battle on the banks of the Tennessee River, in which the Union Army overcame odds and defeated the Confederates.

Twenty-two young Americans and Canadians some Jewish have registered for the program scheduled to start May 4. The organizers say the trip, originally slated for the end of this month, is being delayed because U.S. insurance companies are proving difficult. If they refuse to offer insurance, the organizers say, Israeli insurance companies will do so.

Another temporary snag may be the looming war in Iraq. It is not clear whether the tourists will be willing to come if there is a real danger of missiles from Iraq. If they do come in spite of it, Mr. Klein said, they will not be charged extra for the thrill.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide