For years I had meant to pitch a story about Ideological Tourism in Israel — I mean, in what other country can you get a guided tour of political hotspots like Hebron and the West Bank, or women’s shelters and coexistence projects, all led by guides and groups with strong political agendas?
Shmuel Rosner got there first, in a piece on “Occupation Tourism” for the New York Times’ Latitude blog:
Last week, with family in tow, I took the day off to go on an organized tour of the West Bank. The trip started in Peduel, a Jewish settlement half an hour from central Tel Aviv. It’s a scenic spot. Ariel Sharon used to call it “the balcony of Israel”: located on top of a mountain in the Samaria region, Peduel reveals below the big cities of Israel that lie near the Mediterranean shore.
The view sends a clear message to most Jews: you don’t want anyone else but the state of Israel controlling this area — certainly not the Palestinians. That, of course, was the point of the panorama: the trip was put on by Mishkefet (“binoculars” in Hebrew), a large-scale PR effort by Jewish settlers and their supporters to get Jewish Israelis of all political persuasions to “know their land.”