For more tolerance, we need more … tourism? | Aziz Abu Sarah


I’m a tourism entrepreneur
and a peacebuilder, but this is not how I started. When I was seven years old,
I remember watching television and seeing people throwing rocks, and thinking, this must be
a fun thing to do. So I got out to the street
and threw rocks, not realizing I was supposed
to throw rocks at Israeli cars. Instead, I ended up stoning
my neighbors’ cars. (Laughter) They were not enthusiastic
about my patriotism. This is my picture with my brother. This is me, the little one,
and I know what you’re thinking: “You used to look cute,
what the heck happened to you?” But my brother, who is older than me, was arrested when he was 18, taken to prison on charges
of throwing stones. He was beaten up when he refused
to confess that he threw stones, and as a result, had internal injuries that caused his death soon after
he was released from prison. I was angry, I was bitter, and all I wanted was revenge. But that changed when I was 18. I decided that I needed
Hebrew to get a job, and going to study Hebrew
in that classroom was the first time I ever met Jews
who were not soldiers. And we connected over really small things,
like the fact that I love country music, which is really strange
for Palestinians. But it was then that I realized also
that we have a wall of anger, of hatred and of ignorance
that separates us. I decided that it doesn’t matter
what happens to me. What really matters is how I deal with it. And therefore, I decided
to dedicate my life to bringing down the walls
that separate people. I do so through many ways. Tourism is one of them,
but also media and education, and you might be wondering,
really, can tourism change things? Can it bring down walls? Yes. Tourism is the best sustainable way
to bring down those walls and to create a sustainable way
of connecting with each other and creating friendships. In 2009, I cofounded Mejdi Tours, a social enterprise that
aims to connect people, with two Jewish friends, by the way, and what we’ll do, the model we did, for example, in Jerusalem,
we would have two tour guides, one Israeli and one Palestinian,
guiding the trips together, telling history and narrative
and archaeology and conflict from totally different perspectives. I remember running a trip together
with a friend named Kobi — Jewish congregation from Chicago,
the trip was in Jerusalem — and we took them to a refugee camp,
a Palestinian refugee camp, and there we had this amazing food. By the way, this is my mother. She’s cool. And that’s the Palestinian
food called maqluba. It means “upside-down.” You cook it with rice and chicken,
and you flip it upside-down. It’s the best meal ever. And we’ll eat together. Then we had a joint band,
Israeli and Palestinian musicians, and we did some belly-dancing. If you don’t know any,
I’ll teach you later. But when we left, both sides, they were crying because
they did not want to leave. Three years later, those
relationships still exist. Imagine with me
if the one billion people who travel internationally
every year travel like this, not being taken in the bus
from one side to another, from one hotel to another, taking pictures from the windows
of their buses of people and cultures, but actually connecting with people. You know, I remember having
a Muslim group from the U.K. going to the house
of an Orthodox Jewish family, and having their first Friday night
dinners, that Sabbath dinner, and eating together hamin,
which is a Jewish food, a stew, just having the connection
of realizing, after a while, that a hundred years ago,
their families came out of the same place in Northern Africa. This is not a photo profile
for your Facebook. This is not disaster tourism. This is the future of travel, and I invite you to join me to do that,
to change your travel. We’re doing it all over the world now, from Ireland to Iran to Turkey, and we see ourselves going
everywhere to change the world. Thank you. (Applause)

50 thoughts on “For more tolerance, we need more … tourism? | Aziz Abu Sarah

  1. problem is most ppl cant afford to go around the world .
    i wait for one day for a recourse based economy ย . no money

  2. I totally agree!!! Meeting people from different countries and cultures is amazing. It really changes ur point of view about the world and makes u more tolerant. Im from Poland, moved to Ireland. I had a chance to meet people from all around the world. I met the Irish of course. They're wonderful, nice, kind and tolerate people. I also know people from Slovakia, Portugal, Romania, Nigeria, India, Pakistan, Russia, Estonia, Philliphens etc. Getting to know all these people helped me to become a better person, more tolerant. It showed me that even though we are different, we're still the same. If you know what I mean ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. This guy gets it, but it is sad that he had a hard way to get there, with all the anger he had after his brother's death and such.

  4. When the colonized kisses the boot straps of the colonizer. He forgot to mention how a Palestinian is given access to travel throughout Occupied Jerusalem to give tours. Does he still have to go through checkpoints?

  5. That was the coolest talk ever. Simple modern tourism. I'm all for it, in that light conflicts look artificial and rather primitive. There are issues to solve but the intense hatred is fueled by us and them separatism for sure.ย 

  6. Maybe westerners would be tourists if muslims weren't busy gunning down satire journalists and ramming passenger planes into our skyscrapers and beheading foreigners. ย These middle eastern countries are violent cesspools, best to ignore them and let them consume themselves in their efforts to survive on that stricken peace of land. ย That tourist money would be better off in the hands of a country that doesn't support terrorism.

  7. Hello, I'm from Thailand and I own 2 hotels in Pattaya (a popular tourist destination for those who want to go to the beach). While I do agree that tourism is a good step towards better diversity it isn't a one solution solves everything answer.

    Thailand is well-known as a popular tourism attraction around the world however lately because of our nationalistic ideas and for the name of patriotism we are starting to become Xenophobic. "Due to a huge increase of Russian and Eastern European tourists to Phuket, Russians have also been the target of xenophobia, with protests and banners saying "Russians Get Out" in Phuket" is a quote from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Racism_in_Thailand#Xenophobia and I have to shamefully admit it is true.ย 

  8. There are donzens of stupid "what if you muslims stop killing us" comments here.
    Yet no one cares how many muslims are being killed in pointless wars by US.
    Also those extremest "muslims" who kill "you" are not muslims and they actually kill more muslims than non-muslims. I bet you haven't even heard how militants from the Pakistani Taliban raided school in Peshawar, killing 141 people, 132 of them children who were muslims.
    So there are just idiots killing people yet another idiots blame all muslims for it.

  9. If the Chinese invaded regions of America and wrecked it back to the stone age just because of oil, then I am going to hate the Chinese.

    We have a tendency to forget that what 'they' hate is our non-stop foreign meddling into their affairs.ย  I can't blame them.

  10. Aw this is so sweet, ignorance divides people but we are all the same. It is sad how corporations with their own agendas brake humanity apart for their own greed and gain.

  11. I noticed how +stubones edited is comment so that no one can comment back to give their perspective on his small minded opinion. That's a cowards way out.

  12. I agree, travelling is one of the best ways to bring more peace, unity, and understanding to the world. I travel regularly and do exactly that, andย make short videos to promote it as well. Hopefully in our lifetime the world will become less divided and more peaceful.ย 

  13. Awesome talk. I can't agree with u more. We all should travel more and stop making judgments of other nations. "Stereotypes"…… My exchange life did change me a lot…..

  14. ูˆ ุงู„ู„ู‡ ู‡ุฏูˆู„ ุงู„ูŠู‡ูˆุฏ ุงูƒู„ูˆ ุงุฑุถูƒ ูˆ ุนู… ุชุนุดูŠูˆู† ู…ู‚ู„ูˆุจุฉ ู‡ุงุฏ ู…ูˆ ู…ูˆุถูˆุน ูŠู†ุญูƒู‰ ููŠ ูู„ุณุทูŠู† ู…ูˆ ู‚ุถูŠุฉ ุณู‡ู„ุฉ ู„ุชุชู†ุงูˆู„ุง ุจุชูŠุฏ ุจู‡ุงู„ุทุฑูŠู‚ุฉ ุงู„ุณุฎูŠูุฉ

  15. AMAZING talk – this is EXACTLY how I see the future! There's nothing like seeing other people's culture and connection – it enlightens you and make you a richer person. Like reading the news about "terrorism in Egypt" today when I was there not long ago, just a hundred meters from the hotel in Hurghada… And I don't buy the headlines of "terrorism towards Swedish people" – What I saw there were smiles, warmth and craziness โ˜บ๏ธ Tourism instead of news- so you can just call your friends and ASK what happened instead of buying second-hand reporting by journalists who doesn't live there even. (Not defending what happened of course) – but it's more to it! And you would only know the bigger picture by going there!!! โค๏ธโค๏ธโค๏ธ

  16. I remember that the Japanese friend that I met on Japan. I think I have to call her before I see this.thanks for reminding me. ^^

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