Birthright for Israelis?
West Bank tour companies are giving a new look at the land
Shmuel Rosner, a man who has his own domain, has a piece today on the Latitude blog titled “Occupation Tourism.” In it, he describes the rising popularity of West Bank tours geared toward Israelis that place a special emphasis on forging a connection between Israelis and parts of the West Bank that, presumably, Israel would have to cede in order to manage a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.
“We believe these tours will serve as a tie-breaker in Israeli public opinion,” Yossi Dagan, a co-director of the project, told the newspaper Israel Hayom last year. Other organizers try to be subtler and describe the project as a “national acquaintance project.” The guide is instructed to say the tour is not about politics but about seeing the land and seeing the facts — the facts on the ground. That’s a smart move, if not a totally honest one: the view, the land, the facts, the narrative of the day are all very much political.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that — so long as you keep your eyes open and both look at what you see and look for what you don’t see.
On a day trip to the Samaria region you see a scenic view, strategic points, biblical landmarks, welcoming settlers and organic agriculture. You don’t see roadblocks, military activity, protesters or kooky rabbis, and you don’t see many Palestinians.
It’s a compelling idea that Israelis should get to know the land that causes such consternation. But if the purpose of the trip is to take a look at the Jewish past in biblical Judea and Samaria, it’s equally important that everyone look at what the Jewish future will resemble if Israel holds onto the land.
Occupation Tourism [NYT]
Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180
WAIT, WHY DO I HAVE TO PAY TO COMMENT?
Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.
I NEED TO BE HEARD! BUT I DONT WANT TO PAY.
Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.
We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.