The Gaza flotilla and the flytilla may have been failures, but they were also missed opportunities for Israel. It's no secret that a portion of Israel's tourist trade comes from "Protest Tourism." From philosophy students and poetry PhD's who want a chance to visit the Holy Land, throw some rocks at a soldier and have their pictures taken with AK-47 wielding terrorists. And it's time that the Israeli tourist industry took their business seriously.
Rather than profiling them and giving them the heave ho at the airport, why not develop special tourism packages catering to their needs. Happily one company, Outraged Protest Tours is already on it.
By the first quarter of 2012, Outraged Protest Tours expects to be able to offer angry entitled brats a choice of three tour packages in Israel.
1. The Rachel Corrie
You're angry at your parents. You're angry at the world. You're still angry at Bush. One time you saw a PBS documentary on Gaza and you said, "Man, are those people angry. But in a really deep and spiritual way."
Pack your hemp sandals, your 259 dollar sunglasses and get ready to fill your Flickr account with photos of underprivileged children.
Take off from San Francisco International Airport in a remodeled Tupolev Tu-114 aircraft that smells like gasoline and cow manure. As your body tries to decide whether it should pass out from the fumes or throw up from the turbulence, you will relish knowing that you have left behind your comfortable life and are experiencing the agony of being in the Third World. Your ticket price of 3000 dollars will be a small price to pay for the insights from this experience that you will be able to share on Tumblr.
You land at Ben Gurion airport, after three hours going through customs, where you will be encouraged to yell "Power to the People" slogans at officials who will pretend not to understand what you are saying. If you cannot think of any slogans to yell, a booklet of slogans handwritten by a committee that includes Noam Chomsky, Tony Kushner and Norman Finkelstein (19.95) will be provided for you.
Accommodations will be provided inside a half-collapsed house with an Israeli bulldozer outside. With six to a room, your job will be to prevent the bulldozer from knocking over the house. At unpredictable times during the night, the bulldozer will start up, and then you will be expected to run out of the house, screaming and waving your hands, while shouting political slogans at it. The bulldozer will then usually stop. If it does not, you will be expected to lie in the mud while contemplating the geopolitics of the whole thing. If anyone asks you to leave and go to a bar with them for a pint because the world is ending, you will know this to be a trick. As bars are against Islam.
Sometimes during the night, men will come through the tunnels in the house, carrying mortar rounds and IED's. You will be given 15 minutes to pose for pictures with them. These will look really good on your Facebook and your friends who just went skiing or to build homes in Africa will be really jealous.
After three days of this ($4999) while drinking stale water and eating old pita ($215.44) you will be able to say that you participated in the revolutionary struggle against Zionism and for weapons smuggling tunnels. You may even get a PhD thesis out of this, or at least a foreign correspondent post with Time magazine, which means you will be able to do this sort of thing full time. And even get paid for it.
2. The Alice Walker
You are a very deep person. People tell you this all the time, even when you don't prompt them. Often you wish that you had been born earlier so that you could have participated in the great protest movements of the past. You write outraged poems about many things which to your shame occasionally rhyme a little too well.
Deep in your deep self, you hate Israel, Coca Cola, Nuclear Power, Country Music, McDonalds, Organized Religion, People Who Don't Recycle and Republicans in no particular order. If you are English, then you hate these things too, but not as much as Tony Blair and the Daily Mail.
You leave on a boat from somewhere. Probably Mexico. Maybe Turkey. It's still too early to tell. The boat will not be very good. It will lack a toilet. You will have to use a bucket. Occasionally you will also have to row. If the boat springs a leak, you will also have to use the bucket to bail. (Bucket is complimentary, additional buckets are $49.95)
On this cruise ($12,000) you will rub shoulders with mildly famous authors like Alice Walker and Henning Mankell, and fight with them over bucket privileges. If you are not abducted by Somali pirates, you should be approaching the coast of Gaza in 6-8 weeks. Possibly more if you took a wrong turn around Australia or Atlantis.
If your captain is not excessively stoned, he will be successfully run the boat aground on the Gaza coast. You will be given one hour to pose for photographs with authentic Hamas terrorists ($300.00) and even hold their weapons (additional $75.00). If you do not yet have a Keffiyah, one will be provided for you, ($39.95).
After this time you will be arrested by the authorities for illegal entry. You will be given 15 min to be photographed struggling with them in heroic poses. If your poses are not heroic, this is your own damn fault.
In prison ($7,000.00) you will receive access to a computer so that you can document your struggle in full detail. If you do not have a Twitter account, one will be provided for you ($9.25). You will be given a chance to pose for photos in prison. Be sure to grip the bars tightly and put on your best defiant look that will impress committed activists back home ($81.00).
After an hour in prison you will be driven to the airport, where you will be given another 15 minutes to protest your deportation and confer with journalists. Then you will be put on a plane and sent home to whatever suburb you came from. Your boat will be sunk to the bottom of the ocean or used to transport the next group of protest tourists, depending on how badly it smells.
3. The Edward Said
You are a mature thinker. Not only do you know the difference between the International Secretariat of the Fourth Communist International and the International Committee of the Fourth Communist International, but you also know why both are wrong, and you are right. Israel is despised both as a tool of the capitalist fascist colonialist vanguard and because it is a bridge with the workers and peasants of the Islamic world who are the best hope for bringing down the system.
The first class fight ($40,000) arrives on schedule, after a brief hijacking. As befitting your intellectual stature, the hijackers allow you to draw up their political program for them. It should be no less than 100 pages and should incorporate as many references to People of Color, Dialectical Materialism and the Military-Industrial Complex as you can fit in. 10 minutes before landing the hijackers will be disarmed, but this will not affect you in any way as you are an intellectual and above the fray. Nor will you be expected to participate in any of the fisticuffs.
On the ground, you will begin with a tour of Israeli left-wing NGO's who will ask you to help fund their work of bringing down the Zionist state, ($2,500,000) and then driven to help local Arab Muslims bring in the olive harvest. Their olives are located on an Israeli farmer's land. You will be encouraged to help vandalize his farm equipment and vineyards. Eventually you will discover there are no actual olives. But symbolic olives will be provided ($4.00 each) to hold up.
Next you will be taken to the separation wall. You will be provided with stones to throw at Israeli soldiers (20 dollars each) and while you will be too far away to actually hit them, the photo will look brilliant on the cover of Newsweek.
A can of spray paint ($195.00) will also be provided for you to draw pictures or slogans on the wall. In the unlikely case that a deep intellectual like you cannot think of a slogan, something about "Apartheid" will do.
Following this you will participate in a seminar at Birzeit University on the Arab Spring. Study up carefully, many of Birzeit's faculty are graduates of Patrice Lumumba University in Moscow and are up on all their Marxism-Leninism. President Abbas, another graduate, may stop by and consult with you on his updated thesis of how to run a fake terrorist state entirely on foreign aid.
Finally you will be driven to Amos Oz's house, where the cranky writer will expostulate at length on Israel's immoral occupation, how much he hates the settlers and how much his bladder hurts ($599.95). The latter topic will occupy most of your session. You will then receive a copy of Oz's latest book ($39.95) and he will waddle off to the bathroom, while you head back to the airport.
While waiting in the airport lounge, you may be able to turn your thoughts into an essay for The New Yorker. Be sure to tell David Remnick that Aisha sends her best and that he's welcome to visit her again anytime.
Outraged Protest Tours has put together an impressive tour package to cater to the leftist of all stripes and categories. Its ingenuity shows that just because people hate a country but are still obsessed with visiting it, doesn't mean that a tourism package can't be developed for them.