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6 Mar, 2015

History Lesson for ITB Berlin : 20 Years Since the Finest Travel & Tourism Speech Ever

March 6, 2015 — Today, the ITB Berlin 2015 will host a session to discuss the future of travel & tourism in Israel-Palestine. Speakers representing the Palestinians, Israelis and German ecumenical groups will share their visions on how “tourism can play an essential role in promoting peace and justice.”

The programme says that although “both parties are in a difficult situation within their societies, they still see the need for common efforts. Their aim is to give visitors of the so called “Holy Land” a new, different and deeper insight. Both sides are focusing their activities and programs on the people. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to work together as friends but what happens if Palestinians and Israelis respect each other?”

As a preamble, Travel Impact Newswire would like to remind the discussants that this year marks the 20th anniversary since the barbaric assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, NOT by an “Islamic terrorist”, but by one of his own people, a fanatic, extremist Jewish terrorist named Yigal Amir.

Gen Rabin was shot on Nov 4, 1995, just 48 hours after he delivered what this editor considers to be the finest speech ever made in the history of travel & tourism.

I was the only journalist from Asia attending the opening ceremony of the International Hotel Association in Tel Aviv on Nov 2, 1995, where Gen Rabin uttered these words: “I believe in tourism. I believe in its combined opportunity for many people to enjoy themselves and to learn. I believe that tourism can be one of the major instruments for people knowing about each other other, their history, their roots. Tourism will create better understanding all over the world — and no doubt in the Middle East as long as the peace process will continue.”      

He was followed by the then Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, who said: “If I had a choice to add 100,000 soldiers to our defence or a million tourists to our security, I would say give me tourists, rather than soldiers. I think every hotel in the world is a contribution to security and peace, more than a military position because this creates a real interest and serves as a declaration of an entirely new intention of rapport in human relations.”

It was exactly 20 years ago today, on March 6, 1995, at the 29th ITB Berlin, when Gen Rabin was still alive and negotiating peace with the Palestinians, that Mr. Uzi Baram, head of the Israeli delegation at the ITB 1995, told a Press conference: “Let me tell you how proud and happy I am to be sharing this press conference with my neighbours the Ministers of Tourism of Egypt and Jordan. I hope it will be followed by other similar occasions, when we will be reporting on new progress in tourism relationship between our countries, travel trade and peoples.”

Have any of those hopes, dreams and visions materialised? If they are dead, who is responsible?

This historic documentation, which I have retained in their original format over the years, is being published today (see below) in order to promote an understanding that hindsight is much more important than foresight. The travel & tourism industry, including so-called “think-tanks” like the ITB Convention, need to start helping travel & tourism leaders learn from the lessons of history rather than maintain the brain-dead focus on “futurists” and “thought-leaders.”

Realising the tragic course-changing importance of Gen Rabin’s assassination for the future of mankind, I preserved many of the international magazines, local Israeli newspapers and speeches from that historic IHA convention. No-one else in the global travel & tourism industry has such a unique collection of memorabilia.

Today, when the discussion on the future of tourism in Israel-Palestine is held at the ITB Berlin 2015, let the participants take a good hard look at history and ask: “Why? Why did a young Jewish fanatic extremist terrorist kill a democratically-elected former general who was trying to make peace, and save an emerging young generation from the scourge of war? Why?”

This is one insane act of terrorism that cannot be blamed on Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims. In fact, the Jewish terrorist has succeeded beyond his wildest dreams. Expansion of Jewish settlements all through the West Bank over the last few years has brought Palestine close to being wiped off the map. If this continues, there will be no more Palestine or Palestinians by 2020.

Earlier this week, just one day before the ITB Berlin 2015 began, the current Israeli Prime Minister Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu made another speech, this time before the U.S. Congress. The full text of this speech is widely available on the Internet. A comparison of its aggressive, arrogant, chest-thumping contents vs Mr. Rabin’s much more conciliatory, reflective and from-the-soul speech on Nov 2, 1995, will provide ample proof of how the thinking, policies and strategies of the Israeli leadership has changed.

That total U-turn change began with Gen Rabin’s assassination.

Yigal Amir proves that Jewish terrorism remains alive and well. It is only when the Jewish people begin to root out the extremism and violence within their own ranks that the some semblance of fairness and justice can be applied to the search for balanced and sustainable solutions.

Or else, all the talk at ITB Berlin will achieve neither peace nor justice – not for travel & tourism, nor for the peoples of the Holy Land, nor humanity at large.

rabin newsweek cover

The full text of Gen Rabin’s fateful speech 48 hours before he was assassinated, as well as that of then Foreign Minister Shimon Peres

Download (PDF, 330KB)

The cover brochure of the International Hotel Association Congress which began with hopes of peace but ended with the death of peace.

ihra congress 1995 brochure congress

The original full text of the speech by Uzi Baram at the ITB Berlin on 6 March 1995, exactly 20 years ago to the day of publication of this dispatch

Download (PDF, 779KB)

The innocent-looking face of pure evil. The Jewish terrorist who changed the course of history.

yigal amir