Elderly couple 520.
(photo credit: Paul E. Rodriguez/Orange County Register/MCT)
Senior citizens will soon have the chance to tour for free Jewish heritage sites
and settlements in the West Bank under a new initiative announced Wednesday by
Dr. Leah Ness, the deputy minister for pensioners’ affairs.
program is designed to show solidarity with Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar, who
has come under fire recently for trying to expand a similar initiative for high
Ness, who visited the South Hebron Hills Regional
Council on Tuesday, said that her program was established to encourage
pensioners, especially new immigrants, to connect with their heritage in the
“Land of our Fathers.”
“It is our duty as a government to encourage and
support travel and see for ourselves this lovely region. It is an integral part
of getting to know the land and the State of Israel,” said Ness, who also
visited the settlement of Sussiya.
“Places such as Sussiya and others
throughout Judea and Samaria are the cornerstones of Jewish heritage and
These places connect our people to the land,” she
stated. The Pensioners’ Affairs Ministry runs a series of free trips for
senior citizens to different places around the country. Until now,
however, all of those trips only took place inside Israel’s internationally
recognized borders, or the Green Line.
During her trip to Hebron on
Tuesday, Ness declared her opposition to a letter sent earlier this week to
Sa’ar signed by some 200 teachers declaring their refusal to participate in the
Ascending to Hebron program.
The teachers told local media that they felt
that such trips were manipulative and would force pupils and teachers to become
Until now, Sa’ar’s heritage curriculum was only for
students in Jerusalem, but last week he announced that it would soon be
Peace Now executive director Yariv Oppenheimer
attacked the plan.
It is an improper use of taxpayer money to sway
Israeli citizens to support the settlers, he said.
He added that it was
the result of the growing influence of far-right Likud politician Moshe
Feiglin.Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.