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3 Nov, 2015

Rabin’s Death Anniversary: Jews and Travel & Tourism Need Some Soul-Searching

November 4, 2015 – Today marks the 20th anniversary of the tragic day in 1995 when a Jewish fanatic extremist terrorist named Yigal Amir shot dead his fellow Jew, the Nobel Peace laureate Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Also today, at the World Travel Market in London, the International Institute of Peace through Tourism (IIPT) will organise a panel discussion to consider how countries can go from “Conflict to Sustainable Tourism”. The case-study country will be Ireland, not Israel.

2 Nov 1995: Mr. Rabin inaugurating the annual convention of the International Hotel & Restaurants Association, then known as the IHA. Note the emblem at the podium. Copyright: Imtiaz Muqbil.

Two days before his assassination, Mr Rabin had delivered the opening keynote address at the annual convention of the International Hotel Association on the theme of “Peace Through Tourism.” Twenty years later, there is no peace in Palestine and not much tourism in neither Israel nor Palestine. Ireland has benefitted from an end to terrorism and conflict, but Palestine and Israel are still suffering from both. The former is a success story, the latter an abject failure. An Institute which has “Peace through Tourism” built into its name ought to have recognised that and used an event being held right on the death anniversary of a Nobel Peace laureate to present a more insightful compare-and-contrast perspective.

Rabin’s murder was a spectacular success for Jewish terrorism. Yigal Amir, an extremist Jew, is the world’s most successful living terrorist. He wanted to end the peace process and ensure that Palestine would be wiped off the map. He triumphed. On the flip side, the travel & tourism industry has failed to help the vision of Rabin bear fruit. Although many travel & tourism forums talk about curbing terrorism, they are usually referring to “Islamic terrorism”, not Jewish terrorism. Unless that responsibility is rebalanced, the Holy Land will never be at peace.

To better understand why this is such a challenging task, refer to the speech by Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu at the 70th UN General Assembly annual debate on October 1, 2015. He said, “Despite the best efforts of six Israeli prime ministers – Rabin, Peres, Barak, Sharon, Olmert and myself – the Palestinians have consistently refused to end the conflict and make a final peace with Israel.” The inclusion of Rabin’s name in that line-up is a lie, but the current Israeli PM believes it strongly enough to utter it in a global forum — a strong indicator of the delusional state-of-denial that drives the conflict.

In his speeches at the UN General Assembly in both 2014 and 2015, Mr. Netanyahu made clear that the Jewish state is above any law. At the UN 69th General Assembly annual debate in Sept 2014, he said, “Today we, the Jewish people, have the power to defend ourselves. We will defend ourselves against our enemies on the battlefield. We will expose their lies against us in the court of public opinion. Israel will continue to stand proud and unbowed.”

In his Oct 2015 UNGA speech, he said, “Israel will not permit any force on earth to threaten its future. And here’s my message to all the countries represented here: Whatever resolutions you may adopt in this building, whatever decisions you may take in your capitals, Israel will do whatever it must do to defend our state and to defend our people.”

In other words, the Jewish state is extremely powerful, and doesn’t give a damn about anyone or anything. Two shockingly arrogant, chest-thumping statements, made in a public forum, which prove the global danger posed by Jewish fanatics.

Although their cause stays the course, the fanatics’ modus operandi has evolved over the years. They use both guns and funds, bullets and ballots. Holding dual passports, they are what the Jewish world knows as “sayanim”(helpers). They are embedded around the world, including in the Islamic countries, working quietly in media, consultancies, law firms, technology, finance, travel & tourism, and more. They gather intelligence, exploit opportunities, organise campaigns, influence public opinion, sway decision-making. They finance anti-Muslim campaigns, sow discord in the Muslim world, fund anti-Muslim politicians and forge links with Hindu and Buddhist fanatic religious groups on the basis of “shared values”, code for anti-Muslim views.

All coming from the same stock as Yigal Amir, they are determined to ensure that Rabin’s dreams land up in the dustbin of history. So what does travel & tourism, the so-called “industry of peace”, plan to do about it?

Hoteliers are the largest single sectoral employers in travel & tourism. At this year’s IH&RA annual convention, held in May in Barcelona, the hoteliers ignored Rabin’s 20th death anniversary. Twenty years ago, they had invited the late Prime Minister to talk about his hopes for peace, a better future for the region and how hoteliers will benefit and can be a part of the solution. Two days later, Mr. Rabin was dead. Twenty years later, the hoteliers had no interest in honouring Mr. Rabin’s vision or hopes. Had Rabin been murdered by a Muslim fanatic, there may well have been solemn ceremonies recalling the brutal killing of a peacemaker. But because the killer was a Jew, no such luck.

The peace talks Mr. Rabin was heading were one of two tracks under way in the mid-1990s, the other being the British-Irish negotiations. The Good Friday agreement, signed in 1998, ended the conflict in Ireland. Today, at the WTM, an event is being held which hails the tourism fruits of one agreement but ignores the wreckage left behind by the failure of another.

Indeed, Ireland is one of many countries which have benefitted from a post-conflict tourism boom. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the 1975 U.S. defeat in Vietnam. That, and the 1979 end of the genocidal regime in Cambodia, allowed the entire Mekong region to be turned from a battlefield to a trading field. When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989 and the Cold War ended, the former Soviet Bloc countries of Central Asia embarked upon an economic development programme that put strong emphasis on tourism. Other countries such as Croatia, Slovenia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, all products of the end of dictatorships in Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia, are also prominent on the global tourism stage.

When the Indonesian occupation of East Timor ended in 1999, both countries benefitted. When South Africa shed its revolting apartheid system in 1994, tourism boomed. In Myanmar, a military regime has gone through the motions of shedding its skin, and tourism is surging. Today, there is much excitement at the upcoming end of sanctions against Cuba and Iran. Cruise companies, tour operators, airlines and hotel groups are queuing up to prepare for the imminent rush to countries once classified as the “axis of evil.”

Verily, when conflicts end, the result is peace through tourism through peace through tourism through peace – an amazing never-ending cycle.

Except in Palestine.

That will not change until Jewish fanatic extremists and their backers are confronted, and Israel held accountable for an illegal occupation that is fuelling the world’s longest running conflict.

Indeed, many questions deserve to be asked: Why does the world’s oldest monotheistic religion have barely 15 million adherents as against the cumulative total of nearly three billion followers of the two succeeding Abrahamic faiths, Christianity and Islam? Why are Jewish fanatic settlers, backed by their powerful financiers, expanding heavily into lands that are supposed to be returned to Palestine? As they press on with wiping Palestine off the map, will they agree that Jewish terrorism is far more effective than Islamic terrorism? If the Jewish people are as smart and intelligent as they make themselves out to be, why can’t they make peace with the Palestinians? And most important, why are they doing to others what they once had done unto them?

Today, there is much soul-searching in Israel and worldwide over Rabin’s death anniversary. Here are some headlines in Haaretz, Israel’s leading English-language newspaper:

20 Years Later, Rabin’s Peace Policies Have Been Erased


Did Rabin’s Assassination Truly Alter the Course of Israeli History?


IDF Intelligence Chief: Palestinian Despair, Frustration Are Among Reasons for Terror Wave


Along with the Jews, the travel & tourism sector needs to indulge in some soul-searching, too.

At the WTM in London today, the intro to the IIPT forum to be opened by UNWTO Secretary-General Dr Taleb Rifai says he will share “his insights from a global perspective.” The event is being positioned as an attempt to “highlight the experience of Northern Ireland in its transformation from a nation of conflict to sustainable tourism development with its related socio-cultural, economic and political benefits. Emphasis will be given to lessons learned and their application to areas of the world currently experiencing conflict.” Other speakers include Mr. Akel Biltaji, Mayor of Amman and former Minister of Tourism and Antiquities, Jordan, and Mr. Hiran Cooray, Chairman of Jetwings Group of Hotels, Sri Lanka.

Hopefully, they will have the courage to raise the legacy of Yitzhak Rabin and flag the dangers of Jewish terrorism. Northern Ireland is at peace. Palestine deserves no less.