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October 7 tourism narrows focus to Jewish victimhood

Jewish Currents Israel/​Palestine fellow Maya Rosen observed solidarity missions in the wake of the Hamas massacre and concluded they are reinforcing a single narrative view of the conflict.
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Woman walking between posters with faces on them

A member of a Wopr;d Jewish Congress delegation walks among memorial posters at the site of the Nova festival massacre on October 7 (Shahar Azran/ WJC)

Published: 9 July 2024

Last updated: 9 July 2024

A wave of “solidarity missions” is bringing diaspora Jews to Israel. While in the country, these travellers not only tour sites of devastation, but express their support by visiting wounded soldiers and evacuated communities, packing or cooking food on military bases, and picking produce on Israeli farms.

The trips bill themselves as an opportunity to “stand in solidarity, bear witness, and provide comfort and support to those in need,” in the words of a New Jersey Federation.

Tour groups come within miles of the Gaza fence, but the pointedly don’t engage with Israel’s ongoing devastation of the enclave, which has killed more than 37,900 Palestinians to date.

I spent two days observing several different groups in the Gaza Envelope area and conducted dozens of interviews with tour guides, participants, local residents, and military personnel stationed there.

I found that while the trips span a political spectrum—some meet with liberal groups in Israeli civil society or have a Palestinian speaker on their itineraries, while others hear from far-right speakers and visit extremist settlements—this silence was a common thread.

 An Israeli American who joined multiple mission trips as a staff member observed that tour participants are “deep within their own trauma, and that trauma is crowding out the suffering the war is causing.”

This willed incomprehension seemed especially surreal on the day I visited the Nova site, which coincided with a major attack on the Palestinian city of Khan Younis, only ten miles away. As I walked through the festival grounds, the earth was literally shaking beneath me.

 “Don’t worry too much about the booms. They’re our booms. They’re not coming in on this end,” one group was told. 


The rise of October 7th tourism (Jewish Currents)


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