A group of six North African journalists and bloggers is visiting Israel this week as guests of Israel’s foreign ministry after an invitation from the department’s deputy spokesman for Arab Media, Hassan Kaabiya.
The visit is the sixth such initiative to bring Arabic-language media representatives to Israel and the first time the delegation includes journalists and bloggers from Algeria and Tunisia. Previously, only journalists from Morocco had come to Israel, most recently in November 2016 when seven Moroccan journalists participated in a weeklong trip to Israel.
The Hamas terror group condemned the Moroccans’ visit, calling it a “crime against our people.”
Following the delegation’s Monday visit to Jerusalem’s Old City and the Temple Mount, on Tuesday, the journalists visited Yad Vashem, Israel’s national Holocaust memorial, the Foreign Ministry, the Supreme Court, and the Knesset.
According to Israel’s Ynet news. the guests described their first impressions of Israel as “appearing Western and free,” and as “an opportunity to see the real Israel without the media acting as a middle man.”
The group is slated to meet with Israeli journalists who cover the Arab world.
Kaabiya said the visit is important to dispel myths or to correct any false ideas about the Jewish state. “It is of great importance to bring young people who were born with false ideas about Israel. The picture changes after these visits and their writing also changes the (international) opinion of Israel,” he said.
Last March, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with a visiting delegation of Indonesian journalists, stating that “the time has come for official relations between Indonesia and Israel.” The Prime Minister added, “We have many opportunities to cooperate in the fields of water and technology. Israel has excellent relations with several countries in Asia, particularly China, Japan, India, and Vietnam.”