14 Mar, 2016
There are several different forms that tourism takes in Palestine: tourism organized directly by Israel; tourism organized by other countries with Israel’s coordination and approval, including religious pilgrimages; “political thrill” tourism; and Birthright Israel programs, which are free trips Israel that Israel offers to any Jew in the world as a birthright and which many participants report are used to brainwash them. Each of these forms reveals the political agendas that are at work in the tourism industry and at work in shaping the Palestinian/Israeli conflict itself.
Most countries use tourism to market themselves. But, in the case of Israel, its strategy is also to demonize the Palestinians, vilifying their narrative and stripping them of their places, resources, and rights. During the past few decades, Israel has actively prevented Palestinians from taking the initiative in their own tourism industry. Since Israel controls all of Palestine’s borders and regulates all movement inside those borders, impeding Palestinian-led tourism is just another tactic employed by a comprehensive occupation.