In the midst of a worldwide boycott campaign urging tourists to refuse to visit Israel until Israeli authorities adhere to international law and signed agreements, the ‘Lonely Planet’ travel guide company has listed Israeli city Tel Aviv as #3 in its ‘top ten cities for 2011’.The company has been the subject of a targeted campaign by the Israeli tourism ministry after boycott activists encouraged the company to support a boycott of Israel.
In its listing encouraging tourists to visit Tel Aviv, the Lonely Planet guide states, ‘Tel Aviv is the total flipside of Jerusalem, a modern Sin City on the sea rather than an ancient Holy City on a hill. Hedonism is the one religion that unites its inhabitants. There are more bars than synagogues, God is a DJ and everyone’s body is a temple.’
The entry does not mention the role of Tel Aviv in the displacement of Palestinians during the creation of Tel Aviv on the ancient city of Jaffa, nor does it go into the ongoing Israeli occupation of Palestinian land in the West Bank and the imprisonment of Palestinian refugees in the Gaza Strip.
In one ironic twist, the entry promoting Tel Aviv praises the city’s hummus – a food that is a traditional Arab staple which has been coopted by Israeli restaurants and promoted as an ‘Israeli’ food.
The Israeli Tourism Ministry praised the decision by ‘Lonely Planet’ editors to rank Tel Aviv among its top ten destinations – a spokesperson for the Ministry told Israeli daily Ha’aretz that the decision is ‘a vote of confidence in the city as an international tourism brand and an international city.’
The spokesperson did not mention the pressure put on the company by the Tourism Ministry during the last year.
For these and other reasons, the Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions Movement (http://www.bdsmovement.net) called on Lonely Planet to revoke their rating of Tel Aviv as a top tourist destination for 2011.