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4 Nov, 2014

Flashback: Historic reports, speeches show how a Jewish terrorist destroyed Middle East peace and tourism

Today, 4 November, marks 19 years since a Jewish fundamentalist fanatic terrorist named Yigal Amir assassinated Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, the man who took a small step towards making peace with the Palestinians. Rabin is pictured below shaking hands with former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat at the September 1993 signing of the framework agreement, brokered by former U.S. President Bill Clinton, that was designed to set the stage for a comprehensive Middle East Peace.

In his speech that day, Rabin addressed the Palestinian leader, “We are destined to live together on the same soil in the same land. We, the soldiers who have returned from battles stained with blood; we who have seen our relatives and friends killed before our eyes . . . we who have fought against you, the Palestinians, we say to you today in a loud and clear voice: Enough of blood and tears. Enough!” 


In the aftermath of that historic handshake, the prospects of a wider peace triggered an outpouring of optimism amongst the travel & tourism industry about how it could both contribute to the peace process and benefit from it. At industry forums such as the World Travel Market and ITB Berlin, press conferences by tourism ministers of Israel, Palestine, Jordan and Egypt were packed to capacity. There was widespread hope for a peaceful end to the 20th century and a great new dawn for the 21st century.

In October 1994, Rabin and Arafat shared a Nobel Peace prize. In September 1995, Rabin convened a historic gathering in Tel Aviv called “Prime Minister’s Conference on Peace Tourism”. There, Mr Antonio Enriquez Savignac, the late Secretary-General of the UN World Tourism Organisation, (one of the finest industry leaders this editor has ever known) spoke passionately about the huge economic dividends of the peace process and how it could transform the Middle East. The full text of his memorable speech, along with the Press release issued by the UNWTO, can be read below:

Download (PDF, 793KB)


One month later, in October 1995, the World Travel & Tourism Council, then led by Geoffrey Lipman (also one of the finest industry leaders this editor has ever known) produced a report putting the economic dividends into a far more detailed context and perspective. Both the Press release and the executive summary of the report are reproduced below.

Download (PDF, 252KB)


Download (PDF, 3.15MB)


One month later, on 4 November 1995, Rabin was shot dead, about 48 hours after delivering the keynote address at yet another travel & tourism event, the annual conference of the International Hotel & Restaurant Association. This editor was present at that conference.

The Middle East never recovered from that well-targetted assassination. I knew a day would come when the violent dreams of the Jewish terrorist would be realised because the powerful people who backed him would make it so. Today, 19 years later, Yigal Amir can claim to be the most successful terrorist in history. He and his supporters must be whooping with joy at the daily dividend of death, hatred, conflict and enmity they helped initiate.

Over the years, I carefully preserved the historic hard copies of the many WTTC-UNWTO-IH&RA reports and speeches. I do not think anyone else has such a unique and precious collection of memorabilia. But they need to be made public now for two reasons:

1) This and the next generation, both within travel & tourism and beyond, needs to be aware of the immense lost opportunities to truly make tourism an industry of peace. If Rabin had not been struck down, there may well have been a full-fledged state of Palestine in existence, with free flow of people across Israel, Palestine, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Iraq and many other countries across the region. The positive impact on jobs, income, economies, culture and society would have been mind-boggling.

2) All the blame for the current mayhem in the Middle East and beyond is being laid at the door of “Islamic terrorists”. But Yigal Amir proves beyond doubt that Jewish terrorists also exist, and can do monumental damage. Perhaps the Jewish people also need to do some soul-searching about the many other Yigal Amirs lurking in their own ranks. Why did he kill Rabin? Who indoctrinated him? Which Zionist terrorist madrassah did he go to? How many more are waiting in the wings?

The words that Rabin uttered on the lawn of the White House in September 1993 have never been heard again from any other Israeli leader. More than the Arab and Islamic worlds, it is the Israelis who need a Mandela or Rabin to rise from their midst, rein in the likes of Amir and his backers, and end the cancerous occupation of Palestine.

Today would be a good day to start pondering the reasons why that has not happened so far, and what needs to change within Jewish society to make it happen. Reflecting on the words of the travel & tourism leaders of that era can perhaps make a small contribution to that effort.