The recently-revealed luxury vacation vouchers to Israel, the most expensive item in this year’s Oscar gift bags, have been supplied by none other than the government of Israel.
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In a statement, the Tourism Ministry said Monday that this first-of-its-kind initiative was the brainchild of its New York office. The vouchers, worth $55,000 apiece, will be distributed to 26 Oscar contenders in the top film categories as well as to the presenters, for a total cost of nearly $1.5 million. Each voucher covers the price of an all-expenses-paid 10-day luxury trip to Israel for two.
The Tourism Ministry statement opened with the following question: "Are DiCaprio, Lawrence and Stallone on their way to Israel?"
Tourism Minister Yariv Levin, who has come under attack recently for his derogatory statements about non-Orthodox American Jews, said the purpose of the gift was to allow big-time Hollywood celebrities to “experience the country first hand and not through the media.”
If the recipients choose to cash in their vouchers, he said, “their visit will have enormous resonance among millions of fans and followers, including social media.”
Among the lucky recipients who “could be touring in Tel Aviv or walking through the streets of the Old City of Jerusalem,” according to the statement, are Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jennifer Lawrence, Sylvester Stallone, Christian Bale and Kate Winslett.
This year’s Oscar swag bags also included a 15-day walking tour of Japan and a year's worth of unlimited Audi car rentals.