It Changed My Sympathy, Not My Opinion: Alternative Jewish Tourism to the Occupied Palestinian Territories

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2 Scopus citations


The deployment of tourism to strengthen diaspora support for homeland countries is well documented; however, there is a dearth of research on the use of tourism to complicate diasporic allegiances. With more American Jews visiting sites in Israel/Palestine that challenge dominant Zionist narratives, Jewish tourism to the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) offers a lens into this growing field of critical diaspora tourism. The sample for this study is made up of young Jewish Americans who were deeply saturated in mainstream Israeli narratives prior to their participation in an alternative tour. This case study provides a lens to examine how Jewish Americans relate to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and how experiences that confront them with Palestinian narratives intervene in their political views and diasporic identities, revealing that the socializing power of participants’ upbringings and the emotional, corporeal experiences on tours such as Birthright limit the potential of alternative tours to spark radical, political transformations. Even though alternative tours stand in direct contrast to mainstream Israeli tourism, orientalist tropes still seep into participants’ interpretations of Palestinian sites and narratives. As a result, even participants with newfound sympathy toward Palestinians will often continue to understand Palestinian resistance as a disruption of Israel’s legitimate power.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)378-398
Number of pages21
JournalSociological Focus
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2020


  • Conflict Resolution
  • Israel/Palestine
  • Social Change
  • Tourism
  • Violence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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