+ 972 Magazine editors commendably have corrected a post which wrongly identified an excerpt from a Los Angeles Times article as CAMERA’s conclusion about the Palestinian and Israeli tourism industries. The June 5 +972 post (“Israel’s grip on the Palestinian tourism industry“), by Amjad Alqasis, a former advisor to the Al Haq Center for Applied International Law, argues:
Tourism is used to strengthen Israel’s position as occupying power, to maintain its domination over Palestinian land and people, but also as an instrument for the dissemination of propaganda to millions of tourists, including politicians, community leaders and journalists who sometimes receive free-of-charge first-class tours to Israel.
To buttress his argument, Alqasis had written:
As a report for the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) concludes:Israel has spent millions of dollars refurbishing Christian sites in Israel and trying to create new ones . . . The [Israeli] Tourism Ministry is also promoting a Christmas Eve alternative to Bethlehem — which is under control of the Palestinian Authority — by inviting pilgrims and foreign diplomats to the Israeli city of Nazereth to enjoy a Christmas market, parade and fireworks. . .Palestinians [emphasize that, as a result] they are being cut out of a market they once dominated. Palestinian tourism officials say Israeli is discouraging visits to areas administered by the Palestinian Authority and is promoting attractions in other [de facto annexed] parts of the West Bank, such as the baptismal site at the Jordan River,” the committee reported.
The two above paragraphs were not CAMERA’s conclusion. They were excerpted from a Los Angeles Times article and reproduced as a block quote in a 2011 CAMERA analysis (“The LA Times and the Grinch Who Stole Bethlehem Tourism“) which critiqued The Times article.
About The Times article, which Alqasis wrongly attributed to CAMERA, CAMERA’s Tamar Sternthal had broadly noted: “A record number of tourists visited the city this holiday season, and Bethlehem hotels are booked to capacity, but Edmund Sanders of the Los Angeles Times still finds fault with Israel.”
More specifically, regarding the two paragraphs reproduced by Alqasis, Sternthal stated: “Sanders seems to hold Israel responsible not only for not promoting Palestinian tourism, but also for ‘cutting’ Palestinians out of the Christian pilgrim market.” In addition, she wrote: