An Anti-Israel Tourism Subterfuge
Under the guise of experiental, educational sojourns in the Middle East, an ongoing, extensive tourism subterfuge of global proportions is at work today. This comprehensive and coordinated fraudulent operation includes travel agency fronts, terrorist groups, international NGOs, Islamists, and Leftists. They include such organizations as the Siraj Center for Holy Land Studies, Abraham Path, the Soros Foundation to Promote Open Society, and others.
All of them, whether unwittingly or intentionally, are part of an effort to turn tourists, college students, and Christian pilgrims against the Jewish state of Israel. Using the rubric of “a connection between people from the Middle East,” these travel expeditions underhandedly buttress a political agenda that delegitimizes and demonizes Israel. They are part of a scheme to fundamentally transform the Western world, by undermining Judaism, the root of Christianity, and moving on to the destruction of Christianity as well.
A look at one of the organizations involved in the efforts, Abraham Path, provides insights into how these groups have created a dangerous mix of supposed humanitarian organizations and Islamic supremacists.
Abraham Path partners with the United Nations Tourism Organization and Harvard Law School and receives financial support from the Riyadh-based, Alwaleed Bin Talal Foundation. Prince Talal, a Wahhabist, shortly after 9/11, admonished the United States to change its stance in the Middle East and turn toward the Palestinian cause, declaring, “Our Palestinian brethren continue to be slaughtered at the hands of Israelis while the world turns the other cheek.”
Talal implied that the U.S. position on Israel caused the 9/11 attacks. Offended by these statements, New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani turned down $10 million offered by the Saudi prince in the aftermath of the attacks.
Another organization, the Siraj Center for Holy Land Studies, targets Israel-supporting evangelical Christians with its stated goal of “re-branding Palestine as a destination for experiential travel and human connection” and suggests visits to Christian sites. Yet, it also offers “fact finding programs” about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, from a decidedly political point of view.
The center is an affiliate of Abraham Path and The Telos Group, a beneficiary of the philanthropy of George Soros, the billionaire funder of radical Leftist causes who, as in impressionable teen, collaborated with the Nazis to confiscate Jewish property and send Jews to death camps. The Telos Group receives half of its funding from the Open Society Foundations, chaired by founder, Soros. The Telos Group endeavors to steer Christian Zionists, who have been steadfast in their support for the Jewish State, "away from decades of growing loyalty to Israel and toward increased solidarity with the Palestinians."
Yet, the organization’s true goal is to delegitimize Israel on the global stage, shift U.S. public opinion against Israel, and promote the view that Israel and Israel alone is responsible for the “conflict” with Arab-Palestinians. Telos conducts this subterfuge or propaganda war under the guise of a “pro-peace” agenda, which is merely a cover for promulgating misinformation about Israel.
NGO Monitor, a non-profit group that performs critical analysis of non-government organizations, has examined another tour group, Holy Land Trust (HLF). NGO Monitor has concluded that HLF targets church leaders and the international community and takes them on highly politicized tours that promote the Palestinian narrative of victimization from Israeli violence. HLF’s executive director, Sami Awad, claims to have conducted “training in non-violence for Hamas leaders and other militant groups.”
These tourism non-profits, licensed by the Ministry of Tourism in the Palestinian territories, market themselves as purveyors of "responsible" and "experiential" travel promoting "Palestine" as a travel destination and promising "human connection" and "immersion" into the cultural, religious, and social facets of the region. They offer home stays, interfaith activities, religious pilgrimages, environmentally friendly tours, wilderness adventures, hikes through the West Bank, cycling tours, and trips geared specifically for college students.
Travelers see and experience what these often allied organizations want them to see in Palestine -- abject poverty, oppression, desperation, barbed wire, water shortages, and other deplorable conditions. Left out are swanky hotels, sprawling residences, luxurious resorts, and thriving commercial enterprises that exist in the Palestinian territories. The traveler on their tours is left with the distinct impression that Israel is wholly responsible for the miserable existence of the Arab-Palestinians they visit and see.
Under this guise of real-life travel expeditions, they insinuate a pro-Palestinian/anti-Israel narrative. Published itineraries for college tours indicate meetings with Hamas, supporters of Hezb’allah, and Muslim Brotherhood operatives, as if it were entirely appropriate and reasonable that college students should meet members of designated terrorist groups! Further, the very existence of these speakers indicates that the sponsoring NGOs and travel agency front organizations have well-established relationships with terrorists to be able to command their presence for their tours.
Many of the "Palestine" tours, like a recent tour by Harvard University, feature visits to the grave of Yasser Arafat. What is missing from the exposition on Arafat is that he is referred to as the father of modern terrorism and responsible for the death of thousands of innocent Israeli civilians. Under his leadership, the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) conducted scores of bombings, plane hijackings, and massacres, including an attack on a school in which children were murdered, the Munich Olympic slaughter of 11 Israeli athletes in 1972, and the murder of disabled American Jewish businessman, Leon Klinghoffer, on the Achille Lauro cruise ship. PLO Chairman Arafat encouraged a culture of martyrdom by strapping explosives to Arab-Palestinian children and introducing textbooks that indoctrinated generations of youth to hate Israel and celebrate violence against Jews.
These NGO-funded non-profits travel outfits use heavy propaganda. They refer to "Palestine" as the "cradle of civilization" and the place where Judaism, Christianity and Islam took root. Of course, truth is a casualty in this narrative as the Muslim prophet Mohammed hailed from Mecca and never visited Jerusalem except reportedly in a dream. Further, Jerusalem is never mentioned by name in the Koran and Muslims pray facing their holy city of Mecca, to which they must undertake a hajj or pilgrimage at some point in their lives as a religious obligation.
By contrast, Jerusalem has been the holiest city for Jews since the 10th century B.C. and is endowed with a special status in Jewish religious law. Jews pray facing Jerusalem and the holy city is mentioned 669 times in the Tanakh or Jewish Bible. For Christians, Jerusalem is significant as a place that Jesus visited as a child, preached in as an adult, consumed his "Last Supper," was crucified, and resurrected. The Christian Bible refers to Jerusalem 154 times.
Other lies perpetuated against Israel include the myths that Israelis are poisoning or restricting the water supply and that Israeli soldiers shoot at Arab-Palestinian children for sport. Travelers on the tours hear complaints about the economic consequences and restrictions imposed by the checkpoints, created to save Israeli lives from Arab-Palestinian suicide bombers.
Ignored on the tours are positive facts about Israel: that it is a democracy under the rule of law with equal rights for Arab citizens, including the right to vote and have representation and serve in the Knesset. Also ignored is the contrast to the Palestinian Territories, which operate under tyrannical leaders who torture and imprison the opposition. These tour groups accuse Israel of apartheid, but the Arab-Palestinians are the true practitioners of apartheid and insist that Jews will be forbidden to live in any future Palestinian state.
The Islamists refuse to accept Israel’s existence as a Jewish state, cry “death to Israel” and Palestinianize Christianity by presenting Jesus as a Palestinian or Muslim. Effectively, this obliterates the Jewish roots of Christianity and forges a temporary Muslim bond of convenience with Christians. This despite the ethnic cleansing of Christians taking place throughout the Arab Muslim world and beyond, which has followed the expulsion of Jews from the region from 1947-1974.
Islamists who are part of this travel experience espouse the principles of multiculturalism and tolerance when it comes to the recognition and accommodation to their demands; they refer to non-Muslims disparagingly as infidels and label anyone who criticizes Islam as an “Islamophobe.” Islamic doctrine promotes a view of Islam as the primordial religion and purports that biblical history is Islamic history. The prime objective of their misinformation campaign is to repudiate the “People of the Book” -- both Jews and Christians. In the Muslim world, this is exemplified by the pronouncement, “First the Saturday people, then the Sunday people.” By advancing the narrative that Israel is an occupier, repudiating Jewish history and denying Jewish ties to their ancestral land, it is a small leap to nullifying the Gospels and obliterating Christianity.
Meanwhile, Leftists, who have joined the Middle East travel bandwagon, operate under the guise of being advocates for “social justice” and “peace,” which takes a critical look at Israel’s national defense activities but spares from such harsh view the suicide bombings or rocket attacks by Arab-Palestinians or conflicts in the Sudan, Somalia, Egypt or other hotbeds of terrorism. This double standard is applied to Israel’s actions, places blame for so-called Arab-Palestinian oppression squarely on the shoulders of the Jews, and demonizes Israel’s security fence and anti-terrorist checkpoints.
Thus, this seemingly innocuous network of tourism enterprises is actually a comprehensive influence operation to indoctrinate unsuspecting tourists and turn them against the Jewish state. By denying and undermining the truth of the Middle East and replacing it with lies and propaganda, the travel experience actually aims to impose the one supreme religion -- Islam -- and deny all other faiths.