A teenage girl rummages through a jewelry store on Ben Yehuda Street, Jerusalem’s largest tourist marketplace. She grabs a necklace and asks the man hovering behind her, the shopkeeper, in basic, American-influenced Hebrew, “How much does it cost?”
He responds: “Eh, 120 shekel. But, you’re American, so half-price. Eh, but, you’re pretty; we’ll make it 50 Shekel. Good?”
Unsure of its real value, she declines and leaves.
Telling stories, writing essays and fostering discussions can often expand someone’s perception of Israel’s government, culture and more. But, the mere act of tricking tourists can, in moments, reverse any of the successes from the above.
If the “end goal” of Israel advocacy is to positively affect a wide variety of perceptions of Israel, who must contribute? Must Israel advocacy exclusively belong to self-proclaimed “advocates” or do all Israelis have the ability, if not obligation, to respect tourists and advertise to them the merits of the “Holy Land”? Contrarily, how much of their national culture must Israelis give up in order to win international supporters?
Perhaps one necklace won’t destroy anyone’s perception of Israel. Or maybe not. Either way, sometimes, people just need to remember the hidden cost of “half-price”: quarter-pride.