Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Combating the Left’s ‘Alternative’ Israel Brainwashing - by Ardie Geldman

...The Boston College visit seemed designed to overwhelm the students with powerful affective experiences and poignant imagery that lent credence only to the Palestinian narrative. It appeared to be a stratagem whose purpose was to win over the students’ emotions. In this respect, it was similar to other “alternative” tours whose covert objective is to capture people’s passions. Such tours target the heart, not the mind.

Ardie Geldman..
Commentary Magazine..
18 June '18..

Excluding drive-time traffic, a car ride from the southern end of Jerusalem to the West Bank community of Efrat takes about 15 minutes. One travels along Israel’s Route 60 on the segment known as the “Tunnels Road” because its construction necessitated the first two tunnels in Israel to be cut through mountainside. The road was opened in 1996 to let commuters bypass the Arab towns of Bethlehem and Beit Jala, but mostly to avoid the Deheisha refugee camp. Cars driving on this road displaying yellow Israeli license plates had often been the targets of rocks and occasionally Molotov cocktails and gunfire.

Efrat’s first homeowners moved into the suburban hilltop community in April 1983. Starting with 50 families, some 250 souls, Efrat has since developed into a full-fledged, independent municipality whose current populace is about 12,000. Its master plan, approved by an Israeli Labor government during the mid-1970s, foresees a total population of 30,000. Efrat boasts a number of highly rated schools, a large and active community center, a well-used multilingual public library, sports fields and playgrounds, shopping centers, a soon-to-be completed shopping mall with underground parking, a plethora of medical clinics, and numerous synagogues (to date all Orthodox)—in short, pretty much every type of institution or facility that makes a town a town.

The view from Efrat is pastoral, even biblical. Local Arab shepherds daily guide their flocks of sheep and goats across the abutting highways and past adjoining vineyards. Some of these vines were planted only in the early 1980s by residents of nearby El Khadar on empty unclaimed fields in a failed effort to thwart the first stages of Efrat’s construction. In late spring and summer, the green vineyards carpet the valleys that form the floor below the surrounding southern Judean hills. Along some of these hilltops lie the homes of Efrat, with their distinctive burnt-orange tiled roofs.

Another thing about Efrat. Its proximity to Jerusalem and several Palestinian Authority towns has facilitated its becoming a popular destination for politically themed visits, part of a larger industry known as alternative tourism. This refers to visits by foreigners, often self-described “social-justice warriors,” touring conflict areas in different parts of the world. They come to observe circumstances on the ground, to meet the actors, and to learn about the local history. Some arrive with more activist agendas.

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