Come see Jewish only roads and enjoy the ride

Roll up for your relaxing holidays, people. Occupation is now a tourist attraction:

The West Bank has a reputation for instability, military checkpoints and the ever-present threat of war with Israel.

But the UK is to promote the region as a sun, beach and wildlife destination for British tourists.
To the uninitiated, the image of the Palestinian territories is unlikely to be one of flip flops, suntan lotion and pre-dinner gin-and-tonics as a herd of elephants wanders across the horizon.

But for a small group of leading British tourism experts on a fact-finding mission in the West Bank led by the UK Trade & Investment ministry, a state that does not officially exist is also one that brims with secret promise.
The West Bank boasts a surprising number of scenic spots like the dramatic, undulating desert hills of the Wadi Qelt.

Intrepid tourists who venture here might not spot an elephant, but they are almost certain to catch a glimpse of its closest biological relative, the hyrax.

A family of these rodent-like animals, similar in appearance to the humbler guinea pig, attracted the enthusiastic attention of the British experts, who studied them closely through a telescope.

But if the prospect of an oversized guinea pig doesn’t have the British flocking into the West Bank, the hyraxes’ backyard might prove a more marketable tool.

Stretching down towards Jericho, the rolling hills where Jesus is believed to have wandered for forty days afford a hostile but spectacular vista of desert interspersed with oases of palm and ziziphus trees. The ruins of a Roman aqueduct lay nearby, while a monastery atop the Mount of Temptation was visible in the distance.

It’s vital for Westerners to visit the West Bank and see the reality with their own eyes. But simply touring the area and conveniently ignoring the ugly sides of Israeli behaviour is dishonest and simply perpetuating the image that everything is normal when it is anything but.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

Site by Common