Often, while reading the online version of the Jerusalem Post, I come across ads promoting something called the “Ultimate Mission to Israel.” The wording always struck me as weird. Since when is a vacation a “mission” – unless you happen to be a seven-year-old boy, or a North American suburbanite with a wannabe soldier complex? But I didn’t think much of it. It’s worth taking a closer look, though, if only to see how creepy the whole package is.
Put on by the Shurat HaDin Israeli Law Center, the trip offers an exploration of Israel’s struggle for survival and security, mostly through lectures (described as “briefings”) by former commanders in the Israel Defence Forces, Shin Bet, and Mossad. Fine. But here’s what else the mission promises, either on its website or in advertisements:
“Hamas terrorist trials”
“Targeted killing units”
“Inside tour of the controversial Security Fence and secret intelligence bases”
“Live exhibition of penetration raids in Arab territory”
I’m not even sure what sort of “penetration raid in Arab territory” takes along a gaggle of tourists from Thornhill and Pennsylvania. Presumably it involves visiting the West Bank in the company of some Israeli soldiers. For a fraction of the cost, you could hire an Israeli Arab cabbie to drive you there. But then, of course, you’d lose the vicarious thrill of raiding enemy territory.
As for the “Hamas terrorist trials,” are they scheduled to take place when the tourists arrive? Do you get your money back if the person on trial isn’t found guilty of being a terrorist after all?
The trip also features a lecture – whoops, I mean briefing – by Professor Arnon Sofer on “The Jewish State Through the Eyes of Israel’s Minority Community.” That should prove enlightening. Sofer’s insights into how minorities in Israel think include: “When 2.5 million [Palestinians] live in a closed-off Gaza, those people will become even bigger animals than they are today.” He later complained about human rights lawyers “who only care about cats, dogs, and Palestinians.”
Another mission will take place next month. Here’s the link.