Some of you may have heard that last week, Nauru, a sovereign South Pacific island nation, became the fourth country to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. At Shabbat lunch, I raised a glass in toast to them, and told those who had not heard about it that Nauru is in fact the third smallest country in the world, and is alleged to be the least visited, with 11,000-plus residents and between 150 and 200 tourists a year.
And then I thought about a trip I took back in the 1990s to Anchorage, Alaska. After an amazing visit to one of the most beautiful places I’d ever seen, I was sitting in the airport preparing to return to my life in New York. And who did I find sitting next to me in the Anchorage Airport? A young couple from — you guessed it — Israel.
Israeli tourists are legendary. They may be in more places than Chabad. Some claim (rather believably) that there are more Israelis outside of Israel than in it!
So it got me thinking. Why not thank Nauru by tapping into out “natural” resources? Let’s bring lots of Israelis to visit Nauru. I’m certain we could bring more than the annual average.
It takes a minimum of 44 hours to get from here to there, but maybe we could arrange charters and cut that time down to a more manageable 35 hours or something! I know Israelis are notoriously short on savlanut (patience), but for travel, people might deal with it.
There are two hotels on Narau, though I doubt their combined capacity even comes close to 200 (I’m fairly certain those 150-200 average tourists do not come regularly at the same time). But maybe with some advance coordination we could arrange accommodations. It is true that that have tropical heat there all year round, but sleeping on one of their many beaches might not work, due to their high amount of precipitation too.
Now, I work in the tourism industry, so I am quite familiar with the concept of over-tourism and the damage it can do to a place. While I can imagine it being awesome arriving in Nauru with a group of 200 Israelis there to thank the Nauruans for their support, I can only imagine how terrible (and counterproductive) it would be to overwhelm the country not ready for us.
So I propose working with Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Nauruan representatives in Israel (I’m fairly certain they have no embassy here at this point). Let’s coordinate this so it goes well for all. Imagine what an adventure we’d all have!
Some might say, “Who cares that they recognized Jerusalem? They’re just a tiny nothing country.” Instead, I say, “That tiny country had no need to recognize us. I can’t imagine any ulterior motive for the recognition.” So that’s all the more reason to show our hakarat hatov (gratitude).
So… Who’s with me? Let’s fly to Nauru and thank them for supporting us!