Across Israel, Meir Panim responds to the growing needs of the country’s 1.75 million impoverished residents through various food and social service programs.
The Gaza flotilla and the flytilla may have been failures, but they were also missed opportunities for Israel. It’s no secret that a portion of Israel’s tourist trade comes from “protest tourism” – philosophy students and poetry Ph.D.s who want a chance to visit the Holy Land, throw some rocks at a soldier and have their pictures taken with AK-47-wielding terrorists. And it’s time the Israeli tourist industry took their business seriously.
Rather than profiling them and giving them the heave ho at the airport, why not develop special tourism packages catering to their needs? Imagine the possibilities:
The Rachel Corrie Experience: You’re angry at your parents. You’re angry at the world. You’re still angry at Bush. One time you saw a PBS documentary on Gaza and you said, “Man, are those people angry. But in a really deep and spiritual way.”
Pack your hemp sandals, your $259 sunglasses and get ready to fill your Flickr account with photos of underprivileged children.
Take off from San Francisco International Airport in a remodeled Tupolev Tu-114 aircraft that smells like gasoline and cow manure. As your body tries to decide whether it should pass out from the fumes or throw up from the turbulence, you will relish knowing you have left behind your comfortable life and will soon experience the agony of being in the Third World.
You land at Ben Gurion Airport, where you will be encouraged to yell “Power to the People” slogans at customs officials who will pretend not to understand what you are saying. If you cannot think of anything to yell, a booklet of slogans by a committee that includes Noam Chomsky, Tony Kushner and Norman Finkelstein will be provided for you.
Your accommodations will be a half-collapsed house with an Israeli bulldozer outside. With six to a room, your job will be to prevent the bulldozer from knocking over the house. At unpredictable times during the night the bulldozer will start up, and then you will be expected to run out of the house, screaming and waving your hands while shouting political slogans at it. The bulldozer will then usually stop. If it does not, you will be expected to lie in the mud while contemplating the geopolitics of the whole thing.
Sometime during the night, men will come through the tunnels in the house carrying mortar rounds and IEDs. You will be given 15 minutes to pose for pictures with them. These will look really good on your Facebook page, and your friends who went skiing or to build homes in Africa will be really jealous.
After three days of this, all while drinking stale water and eating old pita, you will be able to say you participated in the revolutionary struggle against Zionism. You may even get a Ph.D. thesis out of this, or at least a foreign correspondent post with Time magazine, which means you will be able to do this sort of thing full time. And even get paid for it.
The Alice Walker Excursion: You are a very deep person. People tell you this all the time, even when you don’t prompt them. Often you wish you’d been born earlier so that you could have participated in the great protest movements of the past.
In your deepest self you hate Israel, Coca Cola, nuclear power, country music, organized religion, people who don’t recycle, and Republicans, in no particular order.
You leave on a boat from somewhere. Probably Mexico. Maybe Turkey. It’s still too early to tell. The boat will not be very good. It will lack a toilet. Occasionally you will have to row. On this cruise you will rub shoulders with authors like Alice Walker and Henning Mankell. If you are not abducted by Somali pirates, you should be approaching the coast of Gaza in 6-8 weeks. Possibly more if you took a wrong turn around Australia or Atlantis.
If your captain is not excessively stoned, he will successfully run the boat aground on the Gaza coast. You will be given one hour to pose for photographs with authentic Hamas terrorists and even hold their weapons. If you do not yet have a keffiyah, one will be provided for you.
After this, you will be arrested by the authorities for illegal entry. You will be given 15 minutes to be photographed struggling with them in heroic poses. If your poses are not heroic, it’s your own fault.
In prison you will receive access to a computer so that you can document your struggle in full detail. If you do not have a Twitter account, one will be provided for you. You will be given a chance to pose for photos in prison. Be sure to grip the bars tightly and put on your best defiant look – one that will impress committed activists back home.
After an hour in prison you will be driven to the airport, where you will be given another 15 minutes to protest your deportation and confer with journalists. Then you will be put on a plane and sent home to whatever suburb you came from. Your boat will either be sunk to the bottom of the ocean or used to transport the next group of protest tourists, depending on how badly it smells.
The Edward Said Extravaganza: You are a mature thinker. Not only do you know the difference between the International Secretariat of the Fourth Communist International and the International Committee of the Fourth Communist International, but you also know why both are wrong and you are right. Israel is despised both as a tool of the capitalist fascist colonialist vanguard and because it is a bridge with the workers and peasants of the Islamic world who are the best hope for bringing down the system.
The first-class flight arrives on schedule, after a brief hijacking. As befits your intellectual stature, the hijackers allow you to draw up their political program for them. It should be no fewer than 100 pages and should incorporate as many references to people of color, dialectical materialism and the military-industrial complex as you can fit in. Ten minutes before landing the hijackers will be disarmed, but this will not affect you in any way as you are an intellectual and above the fray. Nor will you be expected to participate in any of the fisticuffs.
On the ground, you will begin by visiting Israeli left-wing NGOs, whose officials will ask you to help fund their work of bringing down the Zionist state, before being driven to help local Arabs bring in the olive harvest. Their olives are located on an Israeli farmer’s land. You will be encouraged to help vandalize his farm equipment and vineyards. Eventually you will discover there are no actual olives. But symbolic olives will be provided for you to hold up.
Next you will be taken to the separation wall. You will be provided with stones to throw at Israeli soldiers and while you will be too far away to actually hit them, the photo will look brilliant on the cover of Newsweek.
A can of spray paint will also be provided for you to draw pictures or slogans on the wall. In the unlikely case a deep intellectual like you cannot think of a slogan, something about “apartheid” will do.
Following this you will participate in a seminar at Birzeit University on the “Arab Spring.” Study up carefully; many of Birzeit’s faculty are graduates of Patrice Lumumba University in Moscow and are up on all the latest twists and turns in Marxism-Leninism. PA President Abbas, another graduate, may stop by and consult with you on his updated thesis of how to run a fake terrorist state entirely on foreign aid.
Finally you will be driven to Amos Oz’s house, where the cranky writer will expostulate at length on Israel’s immoral occupation and on how much he hates the settlers.
At that point it’s back to the airport. While waiting in the airport lounge, you may be able to turn your thoughts into an essay for The New Yorker.
Just because people hate a country doesn’t mean a tourism package can’t be developed for them.
Daniel Greenfield is an Israeli-born artist, writer and freelance commentator on political affairs with a special focus on Jewish concerns and the War on Terror. He maintains a blog at www.sultanknish.blogspot.com, where a version of this article first appeared.
About the Author: Daniel Greenfield is an Israeli born blogger and columnist, and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. His work covers American, European and Israeli politics as well as the War on Terror. His writing can be found at http://sultanknish.blogspot.com/. The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not represent the views of The Jewish Press.
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