Updated: Jan 26
January 6, 2020
9th of Tevet, 5780
Israel invites countless big names to lecture, perform, teach , participate and share from all over the world. Every single celebrity, who publicly states that they are making a trip to Israel is contacted either directly or indirectly by the BDS movement, threatening them either personally, professionally or both. BDS supporters state that by coming to Israel, the visitors are supporting both apartheid and the oppression of the Palestinians .
The most recent BDS attack was the grassroots venture of the 2-day Ancient Roots Herbal Conference slated to be held at the Ana Poriya Hotel near Tiberias. BDS got wind of the meeting and immediately called for the boycott of the conference and of the speakers who were flying in to give talks and meet with the local community of herbalists in Israel. Some of the expert speakers on the panel were contacted, threatened and singled out to make them feel afraid to contribute , sponsor or in anyway be connected to the conference.
Understandably, one by one , out of fear for their personal or professional life, they backed out and withdrew their names from the list. To protect the cancelled speakers, all advertisements, Youtube videos , and flyers had to be pulled down from all over social media and elsewhere so as not to have the names publicized or connected in anyway to the conference.
The speakers were chosen according to their expertise in their fields , not according to their nationality , religion or political stance. When being asked to come, never once was politics discussed or even brought up. Herbal wisdom was the focus, both for the conference organizers and the invitees. Politics have no place in sharing knowledge. This was never meant to be turned into a political showdown, however, sadly BDS has done just that.
This conference is organized by moms, volunteers and fellow herbalists. They believe that herbal wisdom should be shared like wild flowers: crossing lands, borders and cultures. The entire idea of the conference was to move beyond limitations, such as language, between different cultures and countries. For this reason, English was chosen as the medium with which to connect many people from all over the world. It's going to be the first of it's kind : an herbal conference held in Israel, using the universal language of English.
The conference is to coincide with the Hebrew holiday of Tu b'Shvat, the New Year of Trees, here in Israel. This holiday celebrates Israeli native herbs, plants and trees, including the tradition of planting new trees. It is a perfect time to celebrate herbs, share knowledge and show respect for greenery, wildlife and it's uses as natural medicine. The date on the calendar for Tu b'Shvat falls in February, which is an off-season for hotel venues, and if it weren't for this and similar events, the hotel, which is booked to hold the conference and the visiting tourists, would have to all but close down for the winter.
By threatening events such as Ancient Roots Herbal Conference, BDS supporters are denying a livelihood to the very people they claim to help, Israeli Arabs. Many of the employees at the hotel are Arabs from neighboring towns who earn a descent living providing for their families by catering to the tourists who come to this magnificent place. When tourists don't come, many of the employees are sent home until the vacancies begin to fill up and the tourist season begins again.
The runoff of off-season, is that all the local businesses that depend on tourists cease to thrive as well. The money brought in to the area contributes to all the local restaurants, convenience stores, gift shops , crafters, etc. Arabs own many of these local businesses or are employed by them. This down time could include most of the winter months. That leaves the employees having to scramble to find temporary work to continue to pay the bills. Jew, Arab, Christian, unemployment effects us all equally. So if a small venture comes to town, bringing with it income and possibility, who or what is BDS to deny that to those who depend on it as their livelihood?
This international conference is an win-win situation for everyone involved. For the locals, for those who are coming to learn from renowned teachers , and for those who are coming to exchange knowledge by meeting with people who share a common passion: the wisdom of herbal medicine.
The Ancient Roots Herbal Conference will continue despite the targeting of the BDS movement. The organizers have had to regroup, rearrange and dig deeper to find the resolve to go on and make this event an amazing experience for everyone involved.
The dates of the conference are February 9-11, 2020. There will be a choice of delicious kosher meals, herb walks, lectures, music and time to connect with other herbalists in a beautiful setting . The hotel is situated in the beautiful Galilee Hills surrounded by sweeping natural landscapes overlooking the Sea of Galilee (Kinneret). The views are breathtaking, nature's beauty is all encompassing and inspiration is contagious in this perfect choice for an herbal conference.
Herbs are the focus, sharing knowledge and gaining wisdom are the reasons. The Israel Herbal Conference hopes to fulfil it's mission by gaining support and international attention from those believe in planting seeds for the future.