Amnesty International’s Campaign against Tourism to Israel

Amnesty International’s Campaign against Tourism to Israel

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February 5, 2019

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Last week, the human-rights organization Amnesty International, which has a long track-record of obsessive hatred of the Jewish state, released a report accusing Israel of encouraging tourism in eastern Jerusalem and the West Bank as part of a “political and ideological” scheme to tighten its grip on these areas. Therefore, the report claims, businesses that facilitate travel to Israel, such as Airbnb and Hotels.com, are abetting “human-rights violations.” NGO Monitor, a group that responds to efforts by non-governmental organizations to libel Israel, notes that the report is a poorly sourced and poorly reasoned effort to prove that tourism to the Dead Sea or to sites of great significance to the history of Judaism and Christianity results from a nefarious Jewish plot:

[T]his publication, and the broader campaign [of which it is a part], is designed to bolster the expected UN boycott-divest-and-sanction (BDS) blacklist. Amnesty denies Jewish connections to historical sites—including in the Old City of Jerusalem—and in essence faults Israel for preserving the Jewish historical and cultural heritage, as well as places that are holy to Christians.

[The report] repeatedly diminishes Jewish connections to holy sites in the Old City of Jerusalem and in other areas of religious and historical importance to Jews. It accuses Israel of creating a “settlement tourism industry” to help “sustain and expand” communities beyond the 1949 armistice line. Israel’s interest in Jewish archaeology is “to make the link between the modern state of Israel and its Jewish history explicit,” while “rewriting history, [with] the effect of minimizing the Palestinian people’s own historic links to the region.” . . .

The possibility that Jews would visit holy sites and want to see archaeological remnants of biblical locations for their religious and historical significance is not entertained. . . . Indeed, it is unclear how a Jewish individual visiting the Western Wall in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem would somehow be guilty of [human-rights] violations, or how a tourism website advertising this would also somehow be complicit.

Amnesty [also] notes that “the top-three most visited places by foreign tourists [in Israel] in 2017 were all in Jerusalem’s Old City,” implying that this is a serious problem that needs to be solved. Only in a footnote do we learn that these are “the Western Wall, the Jewish Quarter, and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.” . . . By suggesting that foreign tourism to Israel is about supporting settlements, not about religious and/or historical interest, Amnesty International [implicitly denies both the Jewish and] the Christian connection to the Holy Land.

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