Rick Steves to bring Holy Land into focus

Free lecture precedes PBS special
By Paul Archipley | Nov 19, 2013

More than the Monday morning quarterbacks and armchair generals who let TV and radio talking heads form their opinions for them, Rick Steves can legitimately claim to know the people behind the caricatures in much of the world.

He did it in 2009 with his one-hour travel special about Iran, when he humanized a populace that many Americans view in unrealistic black and white.

Steves hopes to do it again in 2014 when he’ll present a PBS special “Holy Land, Israel and Palestine Today.”

At 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 21, he’ll give locals a taste of the upcoming special when he reports on his month-long trip scouting and filming in Israel and Palestine.

He’ll be showing slides and lecturing about his experiences during the free presentation at the Edmonds Center for the Arts, 410 4th Ave. N, Edmonds.

Sign up to attend the lecture at http://www.ricksteves.com/news/classes/special-event.htm (Registration required).

Viewers have the option of watching a live Webcast if they can’t attend the lecture in person: http://www.ricksteves.com/news/classes/holy-land.htm (No registration required).

In an interview Monday, Steves said he expects to make people unhappy on both sides of the Israel-Palestine debates.

“It’s easy for the Israelis to complain about what the Palestinians have done in the past,” Steves said. “And it’s easy for the Palestinians to complain about what the Israelis have done in the past.”

But focusing on the past won’t solve today’s problems, he believes.

“The foundation of my thinking is, if you care about Israel, we need to find a livable, sustainable solution for the Palestinians,” he said.

“I’m not afraid that some people will think I’m anti-Israel.

“I’m not. I’m pro-peace.”

Similar to his experiences in Iran, Steves found the people in Israel and Palestine to be warm and welcoming.

“It’s a great place to travel,” he said.

People who fear traveling to countries that have known violence are missing an opportunity to see wondrous sites, from the Church of the Nativity to Abraham’s tomb, a complex where Jews may enter only from one side, Muslims from another.

It’s a perfect metaphor for the walls that divide people who have centuries of shared history.

“When you travel to these places, you meet real people,” Steves said. “I took great joy in introducing my Israeli guide to my Palestinian guide.

“Both are great guys.”

Steves hopes his lecture and upcoming PBS special will encourage people to hit the road themselves.

“Do you want to live your life safely, or get out and experience it?” he asked. “Fear is for people who don’t get out very much.

“I choose to live my life engaged with reality, and to encourage others to build bridges, not walls.

“I’ll start my talk by saying, ‘I’m just a travel writer.’ But I think it’s a very exciting goal to get people to better understand the people on the other side of the wall.”

Learn more at www.ricksteves.com/holyland

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