“America’s Voices in Israel,” a group that promotes the Jewish state for tourism and culture, has organized a tour that includes The Twilight Saga film series star Kellan Lutz, veteran TV Miguel Ferrer, Latina salsa superstar Carolina La O and Seattle talk show host John Carlson, among others.
They also have no problem visiting what pro-Arab media and countries call “occupied Jerusalem” and the “occupied Golan Heights.”
"Israel has so much to offer, whatever you're into, from old history to fun activities. We went zip-lining in the Golan Heights yesterday, and I got a nice tan off-road jeeping,” said Lutz, who is on his second trip to Israel.
"Most people in the United States picture ducking flying bullets and explosions," Ferrer, said at a Jerusalem press conference. "Pretty much everything I thought was wrong or incredibly shortsighted or ignorant."
"There is something to be learned from every person I speak to, from the high-level cabinet official to the guy who brings me coffee in the morning. In the States, everyone thinks Israeli people are like-minded, and nothing could be further from the truth.”
Carolina La O, from Colombia, was so pleasantly surprised that she said, "People say you take a risk coming here. The only risk is that you won't want to leave."
Like almost every non-Jewish – and even many Jewish – first-time visitors, the entertainers saw an entirely different country than what is depicted in mainstream media.
"It was surprising how safe Jerusalem is – safer even than Seattle in terms of how at ease people seem to feel,” said Carlseon. “The biggest misconception people have in the United States is that there is constant tension in Israel, and I just don't see it…. The only down side is once you're here you realize how much more there is to explore, which is why I'll be coming back."
America's Voices in Israel began 10 years ago by bringing traditional media and radio personalities to broadcast live from Israel. In late 2010, under the leadership of Irwin Katsof, the program started bringing "new media" mavens, professional athletes and entertainers, key opinion-makers, moderate Muslim leaders, diplomats and other influential personalities to get acquainted with Israel's science and technology, agriculture and fashion, entertainment and art, religions, culture and history.