Millions of tourists come to the West Bank every year, but Israel decides who can visit, and only a small fraction of the tourists ever stay in Palestinian hotels and guesthouses or use Palestinian guides. We visit a Palestinian guesthouse in Sebastia and hear how the owner, Ahmad, manages to remain optimistic.Read More...
Hotels in Israel are offering their Jewish clients some vacation segregation. Staff at the Magic Sunrise Hotel in Eilat have been making phone calls of their own volition to Jewish clientele who have reservations this weekend to warn them that there will be a lot of Arabs at the hotel due to the Muslim Eid el-Fitr holiday, and offering them to cancel or push back their reservation free of charge, according to a report on Israel's Channel 10 Tuesday. [tmwinpost] In one audio recording of a conversation (Hebrew), the hotel employee can be heard telling a client that it will…Read More... | 1 Comment
Through a regime of permits, licenses and visas, Israel controls who guides most tourists to the Holy Land, what they are told and where they spend their money. Can Palestinians use tourism to take back the discourse on occupation? By Amjad Alqasis (See correction below.) Israel’s occupation and colonization of Palestine is not limited to its military elements — the occupation is also manifested in Israel’s use of tourism as a political tool. Tourism is used to strengthen Israel’s position as occupying power, to maintain its domination over Palestinian land and people, but also as an instrument for the dissemination…Read More... | 3 Comments
Nothing in the Holy Land is very imposing in and of itself. What visitors seek is a connection to holiness, to an ancient story or to one currently unfolding. The deconstructed tourist trail ends with a realization: Everything here is a trace. The final installment in Yuval Ben-Ami's journey to Israel and Palestine's most-trodden tourist sites. On the foothills of the Wasatch Mountains, overlooking the Salt Lake Valley, is a park with a peculiar name. It is called: "This is the Place Heritage Park" and features the imposing "This is the Place Monument." Ironically, it is not the place, and the bronze…Read More...
Seeking the past in a land with an overwhelming present can be challenging, and ever more so in the extremely compact city of Bethlehem. Part seven of Yuval Ben-Ami’s journey. If you want the world to hate you, turn Bethlehem into a prison. I can't fully fathom why my government wants the world to hate it (and me), but this is exactly what it has been doing in a lengthy, gradual process that has only intensified over the past decade. The separation barrier runs along the northern edge of the city. A monstrous concrete wall hugs the urban core like the…Read More... | 2 Comments
The deconstructed tourist trail reaches the mystical Galillean town and its many ghosts. Safed is the incredible shrinking city, forever threatened by its own capacity to be more than one thing. Part six of Yuval Ben-Ami's journey. Safed makes me sick. Literally. As soon as I hop off the bus, take in the obligatory breath of fresh mountain air and settle at the "Baghdad Café" for an Americano, my stomach begins to torment me. I know this isn't only the snack I had in Geinosar. This place makes my spirit sad, and my body sympathizes. Safed is one of many cities…Read More... | 3 Comments
In a new series of adventures, travel writer Yuval Ben-Ami sets out to deconstruct the Holy Land's most famous and heavily trodden tourist attractions. To begin, he deconstructs the entire country. The Holy Land has no history. I mean it. It is a land without any history at all, insofar as "history" can be said to describe what is past. The wheels of history keep turning, of course, but the past, you will agree, is what most people mean by the word, especially when they travel. Rarely will someone roll into a town and say: "I'm here for the history.…Read More... | 4 Comments
Tour companies operating in Israel often have a very specific political agenda and a deep impact on the perspectives of their participants. A critical approach is necessary to resist the propaganda that so often accompanies such tours. By Gary Spedding Quite often we hear Israel advocacy groups make the nefarious claim that if people would just visit Israel, they would see the truth about the situation. This is often chopped and paraphrased with appeals along the lines of, “Come see the real Israel - it’s actually a normal country.” This framing plays on the well-known idea that to take a…Read More... | 28 Comments
For my column in the Jerusalem Report this week analyzing public opinion, I asked a sample of Israeli Jews a survey question: How often do they visit their beloved city, their holiest of holies, the eternal, undivided capital? After all, the majority of Israeli Jews reject the division of Jerusalem and proclaim everlasting love. But our findings that nearly half almost never visit the city, and the analysis, show that for many it's neither beloved, nor undivided. Jerusalem remains holy - but that's not necessarily a good thing. Here's my column, re-posted courtesy of the Jerusalem Report Magazine. Avoiding…Read More... | 53 Comments
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