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Bethlehem Tour Guide Recommendation

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Cincinnati, Ohio
Destination Expert
for Israel
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14,357 posts
188 reviews
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Bethlehem Tour Guide Recommendation

In Bethlehem you will not be able to use an Israeli tour guide. At this writing, they are barred from the city. But we used a really delightful Palestinian Catholic guide whom I strongly recommend:

Issa Canavati

c/o Johnny's Souvenir Shop

Manger Square

P.O. Box 37

Bethlehem

02-274-4008

Cell: 054-688-8061

If you use him, please let him know that Douglas Duckett from Cincinnati, Ohio, USA sent you. He is a very good man.

USA
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1. Re: Bethlehem Tour Guide Recommendation

Labatt,

Can Issa Canavati or any other Palestinian tour guides drive tourists in Israel? I would think if one were to choose a Palestinian tour guide, he could accompany his clients in Israel and the Palestinian Territory - thus eliminating the need for one guide for Israel and one for the Palestinian Territory?

I am thinking particularly for visiting Bethlehem and Jericho. I found an online search a man named Joe Nakkar who is originally from Iraq and lives in Jerusalem. I wonder if he would be authorized to visit the Palestinian Territory... what are the requirements? Any ethnicity but someone of Jewish descent is allowed?

Cincinnati, Ohio
Destination Expert
for Israel
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188 reviews
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2. Re: Bethlehem Tour Guide Recommendation

Issa and other guides living in the Palestinian territories will face restrictions traveling in Israel proper, and it's not worth the hassle. No Israeli guides can go into the Palestinian territories, no matter where they were born. You'll need to find different guides.

Plus, in all honesty, I'd think you'd want the varied approaches.

As another option, Sam Salem, a weekend Jerusalem YMCA hotel employee and international liaison officer for the UNRWA refugee organization, also offers tours of Jericho and Bethlehem. While I have not actually used him as a tour guide, I know and respect this man from my 2005 and 2006 trips, and he is very kind and easy to be with. You can reach him at (054) 629-2047 or at ssalem1999@yahoo.com.

In October 2006, we met a new guide named Madeleine Lavine, who actually serves on the YMCA staff. She is knowledgeable, very pleasant, professional, and has a delightful, British sense of humor (she is originally from Leeds). Madeleine offers a wide range of tours; we took a fascinating “Europe in Jerusalem” tour that looked at the influx of European institutions in the city in the last half of the 19th Century. Even though I have been to Jerusalem eight times and explored seemingly everywhere, she showed me aspects of the city that were completely new to me. She also offers individual or group Four Quarters tours, tours of the Mount of Olives and the Old City, and just about anything you can imagine. She is definitely my premier tour guide for Jerusalem and its environs, and I cannot recommend her highly enough. You can reach her at madl@zahav.net.il, or at (02) 678-0058 (home) or (054) 450-4098 (cell). You can also reach her through the YMCA, of course.

If you use any of these folks, please let them know I sent you.

Good luck!

Douglas Duckett

USA
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3. Re: Bethlehem Tour Guide Recommendation

A tour guide I spoke with recommended staying a couple days in Bethlehem. Would you recommend this? I know the State Department's most recent Travel Warning (01-07) for Israel, West Bank, and Gaza says to defer traveling to the West Bank, and avoid Gaza. Is Bethlehem safe to stay overnight in? I read they have a nice hotel - the InterContinental Jacir.

Thanks.

israel
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for Tel Aviv, Galilee, Israel
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4. Re: Bethlehem Tour Guide Recommendation

You can stay there, if you already travel there and Jerico, you can enjoy this hotel and the apple pie recommeneded there by our forum friend Matzhik.

Cincinnati, Ohio
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for Israel
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5. Re: Bethlehem Tour Guide Recommendation

Personally, I would not recommend staying overnight in Bethlehem, unless you want the experience of staying in a Palestinian town. Bethlehem is only 15 minutes from Jerusalem, and there is so much more to do in Jerusalem in the evenings.

Douglas Duckett

USA
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6. Re: Bethlehem Tour Guide Recommendation

I would wonder how difficult it is to get back into Jerusalem as well. I read an article in the Jerusalem Post about a tour guide from Bethlehem who reported that it took him 2 hours to get through.

Cincinnati, Ohio
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for Israel
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7. Re: Bethlehem Tour Guide Recommendation

If you've stayed overnight in Bethlehem, as opposed to a brief day trip, you are much more likely to be carefully scrutinized by Israeli security when re-entering Jerusalem, because you will be in a different category of security risk.

Douglas Duckett

Northern California
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8. Re: Bethlehem Tour Guide Recommendation

It pains me to write this, but when I visited Bethlehem 18 months ago, there was not much remaining open. Tourism was dead. That was before the election and the completion of the Gaza handover. I cannot imagine that the situation has improved....

Simply put, there did not appear to be much of anything to do except walk around.

Seattle
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9. Re: Bethlehem Tour Guide Recommendation

I took a taxi there and back from Jaffa Gate last March. It took us 1 minute at one of the more remote checkpoints to get back into Israel.

Of course, things can change daily, but it was no big deal. The church there is the oldest standing church in the Holy Land and one of the oldest anywhere. It's worth a visit.

Jerusalem, Israel
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10. Re: Bethlehem Tour Guide Recommendation

It might have taken an Israeli guide a long time to get back into Jerusalem from Bethlehem, basically because he/she wasn't supposed to be in Bethlehem in the first place (Israelis, though some go, aren't allowed in any PA territory).

But it's quite easy to arrange taxi service to Bethlehem. I have a great driver who can take you straight into Manger Square, no problem - that would be Hamed al-Hawa, and you can reach him at either zzoozz202@yahoo.com or by phone at 972-52-331-3985 (052-331-3985 from within Israel).

And I also recommend a terrific guide (a member of the Canavati family): George Canavati. You can contact him directly at doomer28S@yahoo.com or telephone 972-52-286-7019 (052-286-7019 from within Israel).

Anyone who calls either George or Hamed, please say that I sent you - they are both terrific and good friends of mine, and I know they'll do all they can to ensure a wonderful and safe visit to Bethlehem.

suzanne pomeranz, jerusalem, israel

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