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The IDF's new 'Visit Palestine' campaign refuses to say Palestine

The Israeli army’s new tourism campaign wants you to visit Palestine — just don’t call it that.

The Israeli military launched a truly bizarre rendition of a Visit Palestine tourism campaign over the weekend. Except the army couldn’t bring itself to say Palestine, the West Bank, or even mention that Palestinians live there.

The video was published on the Facebook page of the IDF’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), the Israeli military government that oversees the occupation of the Palestinian territories.

The video mentions sites like Wadi Qelt, the Mar Saba Monastery and Nabi Musa, sites in the West Bank to which Israel makes no claims. Likewise, while the army’s new tourism initiative advertises the Church of the Nativity as a site in “Judea and Samaria,” the biblical name for the West Bank, there is no mention of Rachel’s Tomb, also in Bethlehem but which Israel claims as its own.

There is no mention of the Tomb of the Patriarchs/Ibrahimi Mosque in occupied Hebron, which is also in the West Bank but which Israel claims as its own. The video opens with an image of the Dead Sea, the northern half of which is in the West Bank, but it does not mention the site’s name, which might infringe on Israeli tourism dollars.

In fact, the site doesn’t mention most of the West Bank’s most prominent tourism sites, almost all of which Israel lays claim to. It doesn’t mention the Qumran caves, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered, the archeological park at Susya, Herodion, Tel Shiloh, or any other site of historic or Jewish import. Those sites are run by Israel and Israelis, and the tourism fees go to Israel.

The COGAT tourism campaign, ostensibly for the West Bank, doesn’t suggest visiting Palestinian cities like Nablus, Jericho, Ramallah or Hebron, and their rich markets, heritage sites and museums. It doesn’t mention the newly opened Yasser Arafat Museum or the Palestinian Museum. It doesn’t suggest checking out the café culture and nightlife in Ramallah, nor does it suggest that there is anything Palestinian worth seeing, or anyone Palestinian worth meeting in the West Bank.

The tourism campaign certainly doesn’t mention any sites worth visiting in occupied East Jerusalem, like the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Western Wall, and Al-Aqsa Mosque.

The video, published by a branch of the Israeli military, truly exemplifies a body which believes it is the benevolent arm of the occupation. The campaign gives the impression that its goal is to promote the budding “Judea and Samaria” tourism economy, which it presents as distinct from the Israeli tourism economy, yet it can’t allow itself to mention the people who comprise that economy.

So visit Palestine, just don’t call it that.

COGAT had not responded to a request for comment at the time of publication. It will be added here if and when it is received.

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    1. R5

      COGAT wants to improves the lives of Palestinians economically and stabilize the West Bank so they put out an ad promoting tourism to exclusively non-Jewish sites. And because +972 has to find fault with this they complain about “Judea and Samaria” and that frankly quite dangerous cities for westerners are not advertised as well. Can’t imagine Michael feels particularly proud about having had to write this one. Probably why it is so short.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Itshak Gordin Halevy

      I am more than happy. Judea and Samaria are the real Jewish names. “Palestina” is the name which the Romans gave to the Jewish occupied territories.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Lewis from Afula

      The basic problem with “Palestine” is that it never existed.
      If this nation-state ever existed, please name…
      1. Its 1st King
      2. The location of its 1st Parliament
      3. Its official religion
      4. The location of its Capital City.

      “Palestine” is the name of a vaguely-defined region of the Earth, like the Sahara Desert or Siberia. Not the name of a specific nation. The people living in Yesha are essentially Jordanians that renamed themselves after losing a war that they themselves started.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Malcolm Loh

      That is because the region was known as Judea and Samaria, way before the Romans renamed it Palestina after the Jews’ enemies at that time, the Philistines.

      The modern-day Palestine has no connection whatsoever to the Philistines of those days.

      Reply to Comment