Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Psychology, Medicine, Science, Politics, Oppression, Integrity, Philosophy, Jews

How to save Israel’s coronavirus-hit tourism sector?

The more tourists from abroad return to the Holy Land and the more people we let in at land crossings, the more corona infections we will get from outside. Those are not second waves. Those are first waves. Until there is a vaccine, hopefully within a year, we need to hope for our tourism industry to revive from other sources.

A trickling influx is not going to cut it. Tourism is a large part of Israel’s economy. Our former mayor made it one of Jerusalem’s main sources of income and progress.

The simplest, most elegant, most Zionist, most economical, and logical solution is Israelis massively taking a hike in our own country.

That would solve two problems. It would bring back the tourists. And Israelis then don’t need to risk being infected abroad in countries that frankly don’t have the record, understanding, or medical care to beat the epidemic.

It would also make that less Israeli money is spent outside of Israel.

For most of Israel’s existence, Israelis have had claustrophobia. Surrounded by enemy countries, we felt trapped. So the greatest vacation was to fly away to far away.

Recent exceptions were that Israelis could visit Petra in occupied Jordan, visit the Sinai occupied by Egypt, at their own risk, and go to Turkey. On top of hostilities from their leaders and/or populations against Jews, we now have there also the coronavirus risk.

But let’s face it. So many Israelis have never (and I mean never) been in our capital. They may only know Me’ah She’arim from TV. They have no idea what the Old City looks like. The Knesset, the High Court of Justice building, the Shuk.

How many Israelis have spent any serious time in Eilat, which has both endless beaches (included one-gender beaches) and synagogues?

How many Israeli have visited Beit She’an, Tiberius, and the Golan? How can their histories mean anything to you if you have never been there?

How many Israeli have seen our coast? They live in the hinterland and that’s it.

How many city dwellers have been in a kibbutz lately or ever?

How many Israeli tourists have crossed the Green Line?

How many Jews have been to Arab settlements and vice-versa?

The government should start a massive advertisement campaign for local tourism. Long-travel bus fares should be drastically slashed. Like: return within a month for free. Much of the tourism material should be translated into Hebrew.

Maybe to have the idea gain popularity, we’d have some people scream that such is scandalous, petition the High Court against it, have the State Controller ask questions, have a loud Knesset debate against it, and have the UN and Europe protest the plan. And an Airbnb boom.

About the Author
MM is a prolific and creative writer and thinker, a daily blog contributor to the TOI. He is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (, born in 1953 to two Dutch survivors who met in the largest concentration camp in the Netherlands, Westerbork, and holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam). He taught Re-evaluation Co-counseling, became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids. He wrote an unpublished tome about Jewish Free Will. He's a strict vegan since 2008. He's an Orthodox Jew but not a rabbi. * His most influential teachers (chronologically) are: his parents, Nico (natan) van Zuiden and Betty (beisye) Nieweg, Wim Kan, Mozart, Harvey Jackins, Marshal Rosenberg, Reb Shlomo Carlebach, and, lehavdil bein chayim lechayim: Rabbi Dr. Natan Lopes Cardozo, Rav Zev Leff, and Rav Meir Lubin. * Previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. For a couple of years, he wrote hasbara for the Dutch public. His fields of attention now are varied: Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine (including physical immortality), Science (statistics), Politics (Israel, the US and the Netherlands, Activism - more than leftwing or rightwing, he hopes to highlight Truth), Oppression and Liberation (intersectionally, for young people, the elderly, non-Whites, women, workers, Jews, LGBTQIA, foreigners and anyone else who's dehumanized or exploited), Integrity, Philosophy, Jews (Judaism, Zionism, Holocaust and Jewish Liberation), Ecology and Veganism. Sometimes he's misunderstood because he has such a wide vision that never fits any specialist's box. But that's exactly what many love about him. Many of his posts relate to affairs from the news or the Torah Portion of the Week or are new insights that suddenly befell him. * He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, reassure the doubters but make the self-assured doubt more. He strives to bring a fresh perspective rather than bore you with the obvious. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds must be disputed. In short, his main political positions are: anti-Trumpism, for Zionism, Intersectionality, non-violence, democracy, anti the fake peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, Science, Free Will, anti blaming-the-victim and for down-to-earth optimism. Read his blog how he attempts to bridge any discrepancies. He admits sometimes exaggerating to make a point, which could have him come across as nasty, while in actuality, he's quite a lovely person to interact with. He holds - how Dutch - that a strong opinion doesn't imply intolerance of other views. * His writing has been made possible by an allowance for second-generation Holocaust survivors from the Netherlands. It has been his dream since he was 38 to try to make a difference by teaching through writing. He had three times 9-out-of-10 for Dutch at his high school finals but is spending his days communicating in English and Hebrew - how ironic. G-d must have a fine sense of humor. In case you wonder - yes, he is a bit dyslectic. November 13, 2018, he published his 500th blog post with the ToI. If you're a native English speaker and wonder why you should read from people whose English is only their second language, consider the advantage of having a peek outside of your cultural bubble. * NEW: To see other blog posts by him, his overspill blog you can reach by clicking on the Website icon next to his picture at the head of every post. There you may find precursors to later TOI blog posts, addition or corrections of published TOI blog posts, blog posts the TOI will not carry, and some thoughts that are too short to be a TOI blog post. Also, the TOI only allows for one blog post per blogger per 24 hours. Sometimes, he has more to say than that. * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me.
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