Concierge.com is running a list of travel reviews for the World’s Most Controversial Destinations. Guess who’s number 10 of 13? Of course –
ISRAEL AND THE OCCUPIED TERRITORIES
Why go: Old Jerusalem alone encompasses the Wailing Wall (pictured), the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Via Dolorosa, and Al Aqsa Mosque’s Dome of the Rock. But it’s not all about religion: Israel also has sunning and surfing beaches on the Mediterranean coast around Tel Aviv, while Eilat, on the Red Sea, is the place for scuba diving and snorkeling. Caesarea, 35 miles north of Tel Aviv, has 12th-century crusader castles, the ruins of King Herod’s capital, and an undersea archeological park. The West Bank has more than 1,000 archeological sites and great tourism potential; security issues make travel inadvisable except to Bethlehem and the Dead Sea town of Jericho. In the Judaean desert, the Roman hilltop fort of Masada, reachable on foot or by cable car, overlooks the Dead Sea, whose shore is now lined with health spas.
Why not go: Both the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority have been accused of human-rights abuses linked to the ongoing Arab-Israeli conflict. The Palestinian Authority’s ruling Hamas Party, which the U.S. government designates as a terrorist organization, refuses to recognize Israel and has condoned and carried out suicide bombings and rocket attacks on Israeli civilians. Gaza militants have fired rockets at Israeli communities. Israel has been accused of discriminating against its Arab citizens and has a long history of air strikes and artillery shelling of Palestinian settlements in the Gaza Strip to combat militants in hiding, which has resulted in hundreds of civilian deaths, according to Amnesty International. Its policy of building settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem is in violation of the Geneva Convention, and human-rights groups say the policy of barring Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza from entering or transiting Israel means they can’t go to school, find work, or visit relatives.
Fair enough (er, Roman hilltop of Massada? nice one). Who are our buddies on the list? Ethiopia, Sudan, China, Burma, Russia, Cuba, Zimbabwe, North Korea. eek. But here’s one review they missed:
United states of America
WHY GO: Beautiful country, friendly people (some), great cultural hubs.
WHY NOT GO: The government spends much more on military interference in other countries affairs than it does on its own people’s welfare. Recent years have seen a disturbing erosion of civil liberties. Amnesty reports consistent abuse of political prisoners. The economy is based on destructive and unsustainable exploitation of natural and human resources across the globe.