"I Would Rather Allow a Palestinian to Fly a Fighter Plane, than I Would License a Palestinian Tour Guide": Tourism as a Means of Nonviolent Resistance Against the Israeli Ocupation in Palestine
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"The aim of this research was to comprehend Palestinian lived experience of occupation and oppression and, consequently, the several means of non-violent resistance that Palestinians are engaged in to counteract and undermine Israeli mechanisms of control. We have tried to uncover and analyse unrecognized social change potentials of more ordinary, more quiet and more ‘everyday’ resistant acts guided by non-conventional actors in non-conventional spaces as opposed to large-scale, overt and destructive tactics. The particular focus of this study, then, was to elaborate on how the more ordinary tactic of accommodating transnational tourists may constitute a creative site of ‘everyday’ nonviolent resistance against the Israeli occupation. While it might not be recognized as resistance proper, but rather as a means to employment or economic development, the accommodation of transnational tourism has been discussed as an ultimately potent social force of significance as it could help to denaturalize and de-authorize both the Israeli dominant narrative as well as Israeli biopolitical control over Palestinian bodies. In order to look into these matters, we have conducted a ten-week ethnographic research that was situated in the areas of Palestine that are often referred to as the ‘West Bank’. Our field mainly comprised the cities of Hebron, Bethlehem, Ramallah and the agricultural areas situated between those cities in which we particularly focussed on politically sensitive sites, like the Segregation Wall, Refugee Camps, and Israeli settlements. In Pursuance of gaining a layered and holistic understanding of how Palestinians transform themselves into politically legitimate subject by instrumentalizing transnational visitors to spread their narrative and fight for freedom and equality, we have been conducting a complementary study that involved local residents involved with tourism; local, individual tour guides; larger, more institutionalized grassroots organizations involved in tourism; and, finally, tourists: the target of the tourism industry. The main methods used during this ethnographic research were participant observation and informal and semi-structured interviews. We employed the method of participant observation while partaking in tours provided by local tour guides as well as by organizations involved with tourism nineteen in total in order to comprehend the ways in which Palestinians perform themselves as hosts and utilize the presence of tourists. The semi-structured interviews allowed us to gain insight in the ideological aims and motivations with regards to the organization of and participation in politically oriented tours and, after having participated in a tour, provided us with the opportunity to elaborate on the content of the tours, the narratives that were conveyed and the events that occurred. We have conducted thirty-one semi-structured interviews and seventeen informal interviews. Additionally, we have worked from the starting point of positioning ourselves as ‘engaged anthropologists’ emphatic with the Palestinian cause struggling against what we recognize as an Israeli settler-colonial project, allowing us to acknowledge and use feelings of anger, solidarity and empathy in the field and to subsequently establish a considerable amount of rapport with our Palestinian informants, who gradually became our friends. In this thesis, Israeli mechanisms of control are theorized as the processes of spaciocide, memoricide and ethnocide, facilitated by territorial control and the subsequent processes of ‘Othering’ that is aimed at pushing Palestinians into living a ‘bare life’, as their their bodies are systematically reduced to a naked, depoliticized state of human objects. However, we will explicate that no matter how bleak the reality on the ground may seem, there is an uninterrupted subsistence of a Palestinian counter-reality. Rather than portraying Palestinians as mere ‘docile bodies’, then, we have focussed on how Palestinians perpetually strive to make explicit the structural oppression enacted upon them by employing a manifold of techniques, which in this study, is the communication of a message of oppression by allowing transnational visitors to be the eyewitnesses of the spectacle of Israeli control in order to fulfil the aspirations of increasing Palestinian mobility both physical and imagined; engaging in discussions about the conflict on a transnational agora; calling for a boycott of Israel; protecting oneself against Israeli settlers and soldiers; and affirming a Palestinian presence, history and identity. The research was specifically focussed on two forms of alternative tourism, which are political tourism in which Palestinians call for political action like a boycott and justice tourism in which they particularly seek sympathy and justice. We constructed three broad categories for the kinds of tours that we have participated in during our data collection in the West Bank, which are community-based tours, political tours, and activists tours. This thesis has, thus, not solely tried to comprehend and express the silenced lived realities of Palestinians living in a complex power-dynamic that they themselves have referred to as an Apartheid regime, but has also contributed to - rather than portraying them as mere objects or victims of control and power- position Palestinians as agents who creatively claim their right to a remembered presence by exercising the right to ‘narrate’; the right to let one’s voice heard."