Pave the Way Foundation Working to Improve Multi-religious Tourism in Israel and the Holy Land

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Israeli Airport Security and the Israeli Ministry of Tourism have asked Pave the Way Foundation (PTWF) to prepare a short book of religious etiquette with illustrations of religious dress and appropriate salutations, so that airport security personnel may learn to properly and respectfully address religious guests traveling into and out of Israel. These materials will be used for ongoing training of all security details and shifts at Ben Gurion airport.

Israeli Airport Security and the Israeli Ministry of Tourism have asked Pave the Way Foundation (PTWF) to prepare a short book of religious etiquette with illustrations of religious dress and appropriate salutations, so that airport security personnel may learn to properly and respectfully address religious guests traveling into and out of Israel. These materials will be used for ongoing training of all security details and shifts at Ben Gurion airport.

Israel's ambassador to the Holy See, H.E. Oded Ben-Hur, has held multiple training sessions with airport security personnel and this has definitely made a positive difference. PTWF wants to commend this effort and work to improve the situation even more with consistent training on an ongoing basis.

PTWF has initiated this work in reaction to complaints by some Christian leaders and pilgrims, in regards to the questioning at the airport. The Israeli government is keenly aware of this problem and has been working to make pilgrims wonderful spiritual experience equally wonderful as they arrive and depart Ben Gurion. This can be a challenge with the necessity to maintain the high level of competent security.

Security:
The problem has never been a lack of care, only a lack of training and correct information. As an example of inconsistent information, Passport Control lists the Vatican as a state which it recognizes but does not mention "the Holy See." All Vatican diplomats and high-ranking members of the clergy from the Vatican travel with passports labeled The Holy See and thus there has been some confusion. PTWF is working to correct this problem.

First Deputy Director of the Ministry of Tourism, Raphael Ben-Hur, has been energetic in his efforts to increase Christian tourism to Israel and has been working with PTWF to identify problems and complaints in order to eliminate these obstacles.

Gary Krupp, President of PTWF, said, "I was most impressed with the Israeli Tourism Ministry's attempt to bring more meaningful travel to Bethlehem by encouraging overnight stays, in order to help the local Palestinian economy, so dependent on tourism." The Assistant Head of Inspections Security Department has stated that keeping our visitors safe has been paramount and we appreciate the effort of PTWF which enables us to do our job while trying to respect the dignity of our guests. She has admitted that in some cases, knowing of the stringent attention to security, some people have used this as a means to create a crisis and some headlines, but we truly wish to do our job while respecting the differences of our guests."

She added that "When we ask if your luggage was packed by you and in has remained in your possession? The reason is that some people leave their luggage with the Hotel or they received a gift, a potential danger, from which we must protect our visitors."

Pave the Way Foundation commends this effort by the Israeli Ministry of Tourism and the Airport security for their sensitive understanding. PTWF encourages tourism as an effective means to help to alleviate tension between the Israelis and the Palestinians which can only help combat the efforts of those who wish to capitalize on poverty for their own agenda.

About Pave the Way Foundation:
PTWF is dedicated to achieving peace by bridging "the intellectual gap" in tolerance and understanding, by enhancing relations between religions through cultural, technological and intellectual gestures. The Foundation has a simple yet monumental vision: To enable all the world's religions to mutually realize that extremism, politics and personal agendas must not be allowed to poison the true benevolent message common to all faiths. Bigotry and hatred must be abolished by the faithful embracing their similarities and savoring their differences.

Contact Linda Simpson:
212 629 0046
http://www.ptwf.org

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Linda Simpson
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