Terror tourism? What terror tourism?


A Jerusalem Post opinion piece that attempts to rebut a series of stories on “terror tourism,” has at least one major problem: one of the rotating advertisements next to the piece, is, in fact, for a terrorism tour of Israel. Oops.

Calev Ben-David says the series I co-wrote in Slate rests on the “bogus premise” that Israel would encourage such tours (again, I was somewhat distracted by that large, banner advertisement for the “ultimate tour of Israel,” but oh well).

He writes: “Israel is, of course, not trying to “market terrorism to tourists” – a conclusion the authors reached by taking a specialized tour that they themselves admit “was aimed at US police officers and homeland-security professionals.” If anything, with its new “Israel beyond the conflict” information campaign, the government is trying, more aggressively than ever, to market abroad aspects of the country that have nothing to do with its security situation.”

Actually, I’m not sure Ben-David read the full series, since we point out that the undeniable goal of our tour was to market Israeli technology and techniques to U.S. law enforcement. And identical tours — particularly the one advertised on the Jerusalem Post’s website — are meant for the casual tourist. I also think Ben-David is missing a more subtle point of the articles, which is not to approve or condemn such trips or even to suggest they were attracting thousands to Israel. Rather we wanted to point out how such tours are the continuation of long-standing efforts to use tourism and professional tours as a way to convince travelers of Israel’s precarious security situation.