Travel and tourism is about peace, communication and understanding people and their cultures. It’s no different when visitors enjoy the gates of Jerusalem or travel to Jesus’ birthplace, Bethlehem. Travelers often become ambassadors of peace.
Of course tourism is also business. It’s very big business in a town like Bethlehem or Jerusalem. Big business is a reason why most of the time tourism still functions between Israel and Palestine. Of course you won’t find a Jewish driver taking you from Jerusalem to Bethlehem, but Palestinian or Arab looking Christian drivers with a work permit in Israel make a livelihood doing this – and they do a good job, providing safe services for foreign visitors.
Unfortunately there is a lot more to the story. According to an “off the record quote” made to eTN recently by one of the most respected leader in the global travel and tourism world: “There is a story to tell, just tell the story!”
Here is a part of the story: The State of Israel is fighting terrorism with collective punishment in closing its borders to Palestinian. It makes travel for Palestinian to Israel impossible.
Hundred thousands of law abiding Palestinian citizens travel from the occupied territories of Palestine to Israel to work, to visit relatives or go to Ben Gurion Tel Aviv international airport to catch a plane. This has now been more restricted and visiting relatives was just eliminated for all Palestinian.
The right to travel is now cancelled also for all law abiding Palestinian citizens, because Israel decided to eliminate it this right. Israeli leader see it as a way of punishment. They decided to punish all people of one Group (Palestinians) for the terror some bad guys belonging to the same racial group inflicted on innocent Israeli citizens in a Tel Aviv shopping mall earlier this week.
Earlier today and based on a story published by Reuters, the United Nations Human rights chief said: “Israel’s banning of Palestinians entering Israel after Tel Aviv attack may be ‘prohibited collective punishment”
He is correct, and what Israel is doing is illegal corporate punishment. eTN witnessed many discussions attending UNWTO and WTTC meetings around the globe. The world was defending the right to travel. There was never any opposition to this.
The story to tell by eTN is: “Corporate punishment is wrong and illegal. Israel’s actions are illegal. Israel as a respected member of the civilized world, as a functioning democracy and a friend of the Western World must stop this.”
Of course anyones right to defend against terror is given, but how far is a country allowed to go? This is most likely again a never ending discussion, and a reason to murder many more innocent people on both sides – shameful and tragic.