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Hiking, Sense of Place, and Place Attachment in the Age of Globalization and Digitization: The Israeli Case
Article

Local Place-Identities, Outgoing Tourism Guidebooks, and Israeli-Jewish Global Tourists

Oranim Academic College of Education, Tivon 3600600, Israel
Academic Editor: Yael Ram
Sustainability 2021, 13(18), 10265; https://doi.org/10.3390/su131810265
Received: 12 August 2021 / Revised: 9 September 2021 / Accepted: 12 September 2021 / Published: 14 September 2021

Abstract

The current research is based on a socio-historical approach to the cultural role of tourism media in the reconstruction of cultural identities, specifically place-identity. It explores the role of Israeli outgoing tourism guidebooks in the reconstruction of local, Israeli place-identities. Stemming from a multidisciplinary methodological approach to the research of the book publishing industry, 17 titles written in Hebrew for Israeli outgoing tourists are chosen for their cultural stance and a manifest textual referencing of issues regarding Israeli identity. Critical discourse analysis of lingual content is used for exploring the texts’ social actions regarding the Israeli identity by following the inclusion and omission of tourist information and suggested itineraries. Results suggest justification of tourism abroad as the books’ main textual strategy. Six textual tactics are used for reconstructing Israeli tourists’ pre-trip motivations, on-trip tourist roles and behaviors, and post-trip reflections. Israeli outgoing tourism is reconstructed as creating a temporary, playful sphere for reiterating Israel’s predominance in the lives of Israelis even while touring abroad. The cultural significance of tourism media is discussed in conclusion by pointing at the books’ double role in both marketing and cultural construction of a consensual Israeli-Jewish pace-identity amidst global changes.
Keywords: tourism; Israel; place-identity; media; guidebooks; globalization tourism; Israel; place-identity; media; guidebooks; globalization

1. Introduction

Global tourism, and the media that accompany it, are both among the most central cultural phenomena of our times. Tourism media play a crucial role as marketing channels for the tourism industry by culturally constructing tourists’ pre-trip-motivations, on-trip roles and behaviors, and post-trip reflections [1]. At the same time, they take an active part in the social construction of cultural identities [2,3,4,5,6]. The COVID-19 crisis in tourism has demonstrated even further the importance of tourism media by shifting some of the focus of the tourism industry from physical places to media landscapes while tourism media may have always accompanied the tourism industries’ core operations such as transportation, accommodation, and so forth, nowadays they are many times used for replacing or enhancing the experience of the physical visitation itself.
Considering this ever-growing importance of tourism media, the current research focuses on outgoing tourist guidebooks. Widely popular and read, guidebooks are unique in their practical, instructional mode of communication, their connections to everyday matrialetes, and their active role in constructing the world views of ‘ordinary people’ [4], p. 29. Studying the publishing industry of tourism guidebooks thus enables an understanding of how identities are constructed within overall cultural processes shaped by spatial, temporal, economic, social, and political forces [5]. However, little research focuses on the double role of media products, specifically tourism guidebooks as both marketing channels and cultural products.
The current research views tourism guidebooks as a prime source for understanding tourism and tourism marketing, and offers an integrative, processual, and context-sensitive exploration of the books’ role in the reconstruction process of tourist identities and local place identities [2,3]. The question standing at the heart of the research is how the best-selling publishing genre of tourist guidebooks addresses issues regarding local identities in the context of global tourism. The research, therefore, interprets the cultural role of Israeli outgoing tourism guidebooks written in Hebrew for (mainly) Jewish Israeli tourists abroad in constructing Jewish-Israeli, local place-identities—the overall meanings people exert on places they incorporate into their self-identities [7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14].
In a 2016 Pew Research Center survey, 81% of Israeli adults identified themselves as Jews, and stood united behind the idea that Israel is a homeland for the Jewish people and a necessary refuge from rising anti-Semitism around the globe [15], p. 5. This perception adheres to early Zionist perceptions of local tourism, which saw it as a practical way to strengthen Israeli local place identities [16]. Outgoing tourism, on the contrary, calls Israelis to leave Israeli soils and explore the wonders of the world outside their homeland. The current research, therefore, explores what role tourism guidebooks have played in propagating Israeli global tourism, while at the same time constructing Israeli local place identities.
The research interprets the textual strategies that the Israeli outgoing tourism guidebook industry has used over the years of its existence for discussing Israeli place-identities in the context of Israeli tourism abroad. It explores the role of Israeli tourist guidebooks as both marketing tools that promote the temporary leaving of Israeli soils, and as cultural actors that at the same time shape local place identities. The analysis suggests justification—that is, the assignment of defined, socially acceptable reasons for Israelis to embark on trips abroad—is the overall textual strategy used in Israeli guidebooks for discussing Israeli tourism. In so doing, guidebooks construct a somewhat consensual Israeli-Jewish place-identity amidst global changes.
The social actions taken by the texts, published by the Israeli publishing industry throughout the years of its operation, were analyzed to reflect upon the industries’ overall contribution to Israeli place-identity making. Moreover, 17 titles originally written in Hebrew for Israeli tourists were intentionally sampled for their cultural stance, their popularity, the identity of their authors, and a manifest textual referencing of issues regarding Israeli identity. The sampling was based on the findings of a preliminary research of publishing trends in the Israeli outgoing tourism guidebook industry using a digitized library catalogue as a main source of information. Copies of the sampled guidebooks were then analyzed using a qualitative research design. The texts were meticulously analyzed by closely following their lingual content that directly addresses issues regarding Israel, Israelis, and the Israeli identity.
The analysis follows three distinct moments in the lives of tourists in explaining the overall cultural role of tourism media in constructing tourists’ pre-trip-motivations, on-trip roles and behaviors, and post-trip reflections. It suggests six textual tactics used by the books for justifying Israeli global tourism by shaping Israeli tourists’ motivations, experiences, and reflections. It delves on the ways the books discuss Israeli tourists’ push and pull motivations to travel to various, somewhat conflicted destinations; the tourist roles designated by the books for Israeli tourists while in such destinations; and the overall cultural meanings exerted to Israeli global tourism by the guidebooks. In so doing, the analysis shows how the very idea of outgoing tourism—the act of leaving Israeli borders—is constructed by the books to take part in reinforcing an Israeli-Jewish place-identity. In conclusion, the importance of socio-historical cultural research of tourism media for marketers in designing a culturally-sensitive customer value offer in complex times of global tourism is discussed.

2. Literature Review

2.1. The Cultural Construction of Place-Identity and Tourism

When does a place—the physical environment with its overall psychological, cultural, social, and behavioral meanings [7]—become a part of our identity? Place, as a space imbued with meaning, is critical to how we understand tourism, which is concerned with voluntarily leaving one place for another for limited periods of time [17]. Over the past two decades, research in varied fields such as environmental psychology, social psychology, and tourism studies has established the importance of place for creating and sustaining a sense of self, e.g., [7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14]. However, different constructs such as “place identity”, “place attachment”, “place dependence”, and more have been used concomitantly to conceptually capture the relations between (wo)men and place in the social and behavioral sciences [9].
The current research is based on a conception of our social world as culturally constructed [18,19]. It adopts Hauge’s [7] view of place-identity as “the influence place has on identity (as a) result of a holistic and reciprocal interaction between people and their physical environment; people affect places, and places (and the way places are affected) influence how people see themselves” [7], p. 45.
According to Chen, Hall, and Prayag [17], place-identity differs from other dimensions of sense of place, which define the relationship of people to places in terms of genealogical/historical, economic, ideological, and so forth, links. Place-identity, on the other hand, is culturally constructed through the constant learning about a place via cultural narratives, which imbue the physical space with social meanings.
But what can be considered A Place? That is, how are the boundaries of place as a cultural construct determined? Peng, Strijker, and Wu [12] view place as a somewhat open, fluid concept, which, unlike gender, race, or nationality, contains symbols of many different social categories and personal meanings and represents and maintains identity on different levels and dimensions [12], p. 3. In investigating place and hiking, Kliot and Collins-Kreiner [8] emphasize the importance of three factors in the creation of place-identity: a strong sense of involvement with the attributes of the place itself; a strong sense of belonginess to a social world, that is, a complex network of social relations and meanings ascribed to hiking in a specific place; and a strong sense of involvement with hiking in general [10].
Following these last conceptions of place and its influence on identity, in the current research, place-identity is defined as a strong sense of personal involvement with place—a cultural arena of collective being and sense of belonging based on shared grounds of language, ethnicity, religion history, and other group affiliations—constructed through a holistic and reciprocal interaction between people and their physical environment. [7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14].
Tourism research on the relationship of people and places is important for two practical reasons (among others), concerning the operation of the tourism industry and its impact on the environment. First, the concept of place-identity is central to place marketing, or the means by which consumers are persuaded to develop place awareness and, potentially, purchase a place product. Second, from a destination perspective, it is important to explore how individuals and communities respond to the changes brought about by tourism. These responses are significant because residents become tourists, and therefore, the changes in the home environment and how place is perceived also affect tourist travel behavior. Interestingly, Daryantoa and Song have recently found that the effect of place-attachment on pro-environmental behavior is larger among tourists vs. residents [20].

2.2. Media and the Cultural Meanings of Tourism

The overarching interdependence of tourism and the media as two of the defining cultural phenomena of our times has long been recognized by both tourism and media scholars [1,16]). Some emphasize the shared globalizing role of both industries: while one, the media, distribute images globally, the other, the tourism industry, globally ‘delivers’ tourists at destinations. But while the relations between tourism-related media images and actual travel behaviors are in that sense expected, others go even further as to claim that all practices of tourism should be understood as mediated, semiotic actions [16,20].
For over four decades, the cultural studies approach to tourism research reflects upon and investigates the relationship between actual tourism sites, travel behaviors, and the symbolic meanings ascribed to them. In his 1980/1981 essay titled “The semiotics of tourism”, Culler [20] posits that tourists are “…interested in everything as a sign of itself… All over the world the unsung armies of semiotics, the tourists, are fanning out in search of signs of Frenchness, typical Italian behavior, exemplary Oriental scenes… tourists persist in regarding these objects and practices as cultural signs” [20], p. 2.
Media representations of tourism embody cultural meanings by using literal, visual, or both sets of cultural signs and symbols. Cultural research, therefore, oftentimes deciphers the symbolic aspects of tourism by focusing on different media representations of tourism of a given society at a given time.
Moreover, media representations of tourism are almost never merely practical collections of information about accommodation, transportation, or cuisine. Instead, by telling about the destinations’ populations, histories, politics, geographies, and more, media representations of tourism are often times used in research for interpreting the deeper, overall cultural meanings of tourism [1,2,3].
The importance of research into the cultural meanings of tourism media representations lies, in that sense, in their nature as mediated texts of popular culture; that is, collections of signs and symbols which receive their meanings only through the interpretations of their readers. This focus upon the polysemic nature of mediated texts of popular culture, which was developed mainly by the scholars of the Birmingham school in the 1960′s, points to the social nature of reading: not only do we understand texts of popular culture through the lenses created by our cultural knowledge and life experiences, but our very lives, our selves, are shaped by the texts we read.

2.3. Tourist Guidebooks and Cultural Identities

Tourists’ guidebooks are often defined by their textual attributes, that is, by their adherence, or lack thereof, to other related literary genres, such as travel journals, atlases, and brochures [21], p. 326. However, guidebooks are better described by their practical, purposeful communicative role of supplying their audiences—tourists—with the ‘know-how’ of being a tourist at a specific destination. In fact, guidebooks’ most manifest quality is their being a mass-produced product of strategic instructional communication—texts that intentionally tell their readers what to do and how to do it [1].
Research of guidebooks has been growing fairly rapidly in the last two decades, in scope as well as in diversity, e.g., [21,22,23,24,25,26,27,28,29,30]. Two paradigms are primarily used in guidebook research: guidebooks as sources of information, facilitating the tourists’ decision-making processes during the pre-trip and mid-travel periods; or guidebooks as texts of popular culture, upon which cultural meanings and roles regarding tourism are constructed. However, research into the intricacies of the role, informational, and cultural aspects played by guidebooks in the construction of identities in a globalizing world, calls for a holistic theoretical and methodological research perspective.
The socio-historical cultural approach applied in the current research to the study of Israeli tourist guidebooks understands books as both, and at the same time, a product and a singular, one-time individual creation. This notion relies on two well-established premises in tourism and media studies. One, stemming from tourism research, points to the decisive role of tourism media in the socially constructed formulation of collective identities such as nation, ethnicity, religion, gender identity, and so forth [1], p. 12. The other premise, stemming from The Birmingham School’s notion of popular media as a sphere of negotiations over dominant ideologies, suggests that identity construction processes can be understood by investigating possible interpretations of products of popular culture, including tourist guidebooks [31]. All in all, then, implementing a socio-historical cultural approach to the study of Israeli-Jewish place-identity constructed through tourism by Israeli guidebooks may offer an insight into the intricate connections between identities and tourism media in light of the political, cultural, and social ramifications of globalization.

2.4. Place-Identities: The Case of Israel

More than 70 years after the establishment of the State of Israel, the Israeli society is still deeply divided, not only between Israeli Jews and the country’s Arab minority, but also among the subgroups that make up Israeli Jewry. One major factor dividing the Israeli-Jewish society is religion—Israeli Jews are divided between the four categories of ultra-Orthodox, religious, traditional, and secular [15]. Other factors dividing the Israeli society are even more particularistic, and include ethnicity, migration generation, socioeconomic standing, and political dispositions [32].
In articulating the construct of an Israeli place-identity in Israeli tourist guidebooks, the current research relies on cultural boundaries (rather than official borders) drawn by the books’ primary goal—to be used by an audience which is primarily Hebrew speaking and Jewish. This audience is defined in the research following the concept of the ‘imagined reader’—Iser’s hypothetical ‘model’ of a reader the authors assume share the knowledge necessary to fully understand their texts [33]. The fact that the books are written in Hebrew and include information regarding sites associated with the Jewish religion justifies, methodologically at least, the omission of other, non-Jewish Israeli identities. In accordance, the use of the term ‘Israeli place-identity’ is limited in the current research to Hebrew speaking Jewish Israelis. The very decision to follow route after the books’ definition of Israel as a place thus demonstrates the importance of adopting a wider conception of local place-identities as culturally constructed by global media.

3. Method

The current research explores the cultural construction of Israeli-Jewish place-identities relying upon a multidisciplinary social-historical approach to the study of the book publishing industry. Digitized library catalogue is used as a prominent information source for studying the history of publishing and associated social changes. Digitized library catalogues offer standardized, large-scale data sets that can be used for shedding light on the development of book production in a specific time and place. A preliminary analysis explored publishing trends within the Israeli outgoing tourists’ guidebook industry. The choice of titles textually analyzed in the current reading of outgoing tourism guidebooks is based upon this preliminary exploration of the publishing trends of the Israeli outgoing tourism guidebook industry.

3.1. Materials and Data Collection

The digitized catalogue of the Israeli National Library is used by the author as a main source of information. The Israeli National Library law of 2007 defines it as the main research library in Israel that “collect, preserve, develop and endow collections of knowledge, heritage and culture in general and those of the Jewish people, the State and the Land of Israel, in particular” (https://www.nli.org.il/en (accessed on 12 September 2021)). The online catalogue, consisting of over 5 million volumes, was analyzed to locate and collect all of the entries relating to Hebrew-language Israeli outgoing tourism guidebooks published in Israel over the years.
The preliminary research of the catalogue included two main stages. The first stage included a computational analysis of the catalogue, narrowing the collection to 4000+ entries, followed by a closer, human analysis of all entries, concluding with a completed collection of 953 titles of Israeli outgoing tourism guidebooks which were specifically produced to be used by Hebrew-speaking Israeli tourists. Then, a quantitative analysis of the 953 catalogue entries was set to explore the books’ topics, that is, their designated destinations, as well as the industry’s overall production processes over the years. In the second stage, in-depth, semi-structured interviews with three prominent publishers/ authors of guidebooks and one translator and editor were conducted, and many titles of guidebooks that appear in the catalogue were freely read.
Fully reporting the results of these preliminary stages far exceed the scope of this article. However, rooted in Geertz’s [34] conception of cultural research as interpretive and semiotic, this preliminary inspection of the research field allowed the author to (1) begin sorting out and formulating her interpretation of the texts’ structures of meaning, focusing her research interest on the general topic of the Israeli-Jewish identity in a world of global tourism; (2) to meticulously choose 17 titles to be qualitatively analyzed for the current research (see Figure 1: Sampled Israeli outgoing tourism guidebooks, 1932–2012, in order of appearance in the article).
The 17 titles that were chosen (1) include a manifest preoccupation with issues regarding the Israeli-Jewish identity; and/or (2) are the products of the most active authors and/or publishing houses; and/or (3) are dedicated to popular destinations or to ones that appear to be popular among the catalogue entries; and/or (4) have accumulated a central stance in Israeli culture over the years. In addition, to holistically describe the cultural actions of the industry throughout its short yet prolific years of existence, the very few titles which were published prior to 1948 and were available for the current exploration were also included in the research. However, it is important to note again, that the choice of titles is in itself the authors’ interpretation, and other titles may fit that criteria as well. Moreover, other research questions may lead to different sampling schemas, and so to different results. The current sampling, therefore, remains, as is required in the field of cultural research, humbly and intrinsically incomplete [34], p. 322.

3.2. Research Tool

Critical discourse analysis was used as a research tool in analyzing the linguistic aspects of the texts following the symbolic aspects of power relations in late-modern society [35]. The analysis is based upon the premises of genre theory, which views genres as a communicative configuration of ideas and social goals articulated textually using distinctive, identifiable attributes and patterns [35,36,37,38,39]. Since texts are seen in that view as an organic part of the human environment, the analysis aims at exploring four complementing aspects of the books as texts: their textual attributes, the actions they perform, their history, and their overall social role [37,39].
First, in order to understand how Israeli books address the matter of Israeliness and Israeli tourism, the textual attributes of each of the books were documented: the choices of words and phrases, characters and places, styles and modalities of reader-author relations, as well as the notions, norms, and behaviors solicited or prohibited by the text.
Then, the social actions taken by the books were analyzed by documenting and interpreting the textual manifestations of three sets of variables: the social facts constructed by the books, the main actions that they call for in the outside, real world, and their connections to other genres.

4. Results

“You will be pleased on leaving Israel, but more joyous on your return. You will see that life in Europe is not all sweetness, while in Israel is not bleakest black. Even this, in itself, is reason enough to go”.
[40], p. 19
Tourism media, specifically tourism guidebooks, play a crucial, dual role, in and for the tourism industry and other related cultural fields. As the case of the Israeli industry indicates, guidebooks are used for marketing purposes, structuring readers’ motivations to travel, tourist roles and behaviors, as well as post-trip reflections, to best fit their producers’ notion of their costumers’ needs and wants. At the same time, guidebooks delineate the boundaries of an ideologically acceptable ‘Israeli tourism’ abroad, and thus take part in the cultural construction of Israeli place-identities in the context of globalization.
The reading suggests that the inclusion and omission of information regarding various destinations, as well as the formulation of tourist itineraries, are used in implementing the books’ central textual strategy of justification of Israeli tourism abroad. The results chapter, therefore, follows the implementation of this strategy of justification with regard to three crucial elements of tourism: tourists motivations, tourist roles and behaviors, and post-trip reflections (see Figure 2: The cultural construction of local place identities and Israeli outgoing tourism guidebooks: Justifying global tourism through taking part in the cultural construction of Israeli outgoing tourists’ pre-trip motivations, on-trip tourist roles and behaviors, and post-trip perceptions).

4.1. Why Israeli Global Tourism? Motivations to Travel Abroad and Local Place-Identities

The research of the tourist identity often explores pretravel motivations—the push and pull factors such as perceived attributes and prevailing images of destinations, and the needs and wants of tourists—that shape tourists’ selection processes [1]. The Israeli guidebook industry takes part in shaping its readers motivations to travel abroad by endowing these motivations with culturally acceptable, even commendable meanings, using two main textual tactics:
  • Providing information on Jewish history in the destination, thus creating a sense of temporal continuity between the Jewish past and the Israeli present.
  • Listing sites of Jewish significance and their including them in trip itineraries, thus creating a sense of temporal continuity between the Jewish past and the present time of the trip itself.
The textual strategy of justifying Israeli tourism abroad by describing the very motivation to travel according to the Israeli, Zionist spirit can be traced back to 1932, when the first Israeli outgoing guidebook, A brief tour guide to Syria [41], was published. The book asserts that Israeli tourism is not only acceptable, but may also serve as a bridge linking the Jewish past in the destination and the Israeli present. The book mandates that Israeli travelers plan their itineraries according to the Zionist spirit, demonstrating both scientific and history-sensitive dedication in exploring the destination [42]. Trip itineraries offered by the books not only determine what may be considered a tourist site, but also classify and sort between “important” and “unimportant” sites. These classifications intended to guide the Israeli tourist abroad and imbue sites with meanings that arise from the historical existence of Jews at the destination, and so create a continuum between Jewish historical time, contemporary Israeli time, and the time of the trip.
An example is the preoccupation with the absence of Jews at a destination, rather than presence, as a reason of itself for Jewish-Israeli tourists to visit. The present-time absence of Jews from the city of Tyre, Lebanon, for example, was comprehensively discussed in the book. Approximately a third of the discussion of the city detailed the traumatic history of its previous Jewish residents. Discussion of the city through its historical link to a painful event from Jewish history allows the text to span the distance between Jewish history in exile and the Israeli present, and thus also serves the Zionist vision.
The preoccupation in tourist guidebooks with collective traumas continued to exist in relation to destinations historically related to the Holocaust of European Jews. Popular culture products have a well-established and significant role in constructing the collective memory of the Holocaust [43]. The Holocaust is one of the enduring aspects of Israeli collective memory, and is regarded as “the primary myth of Israeli politics and the moral foundation of a new Israeli civil religion” [44], p. 137. Therefore, Israeli popular culture recurringly tells itself its versions of the Holocaust as stories told through changing circumstance, media, and for different reasons [45]. The choice to deal with this issue in the context of Israeli tourism is unsurprising in that sense.
The following example to this is particularly interesting, because it was published in a book from 1951, only a few years after the end of World War II. At the time, the State of Israel implemented an official political and economic boycott against Germany, retreating from it in 1965, with the establishment of diplomatic relations between Israel and Germany [46]. Pocket guide to Western Europe begins, however, with: “The scars of World War II have healed almost everywhere and can no longer interfere with the pleasant pastime of the traveler or tourist” [47], p. 3. Later in the book, the author does mention “…those events that happened to the Jews during the Anschluss” [47], p. 26. Still, the lack of explicit reference to the Nazi regime may take part in constructing tourism as a means of seeing Europe anew after the Holocaust.
This “normalizing” approach to Germany by avoiding mention of the Holocaust was present in books even after the 1961 Eichmann trial, which generated a momentous change in Israeli discourse about the Holocaust and prompted the first first-hand accounts of Holocaust survivors and their stories [43,45]. An example to this is the casual reference to Germany in the Kopel guide to Europe, published in 1974: “... to the tourist it (Germany) seems like a new country as the destruction of many cities during World War II brought many to be rebuilt...” [48], p. 161.
However, in the late 1970s and 1980s, the focus on collective past traumas became more explicit in guidebooks as a justifying mechanism of Israeli tourism abroad, even to conflicted destinations. Not only was Israeli tourism abroad now a way to learn about the Jewish past; it was also textually justified as a solution, or at least an explanation, to contemporary Israeli issues. Yosef Lapid, a senior journalist and Holocaust survivor of Hungarian Jewry [49], described in his 1976 Lapid’s guide to Europe [50], one of Israel’s all-time popular guides, Israeli tourism in Germany as a means of dealing not only with the past but also with the present:
Whether or not you decide to tour Germany is first and foremost a question of conscience—a reckoning each Jew must make with himself. There are thousands of Israelis that have traveled to Germany...in recent years...even ordinary tourists, Israelis who no longer see why they should skip a country in the center of Europe. The tragedy that befell our athletes at the Munich Olympics in the summer of 1972 again dissuaded many. In any case, I have no interest in persuading those who refuse to tread on German soil. My purpose is to offer a guide for those who have come to the conclusion that they will be travelling to another Germany.
[50], p. 67
Here, the justification motivating outgoing Israeli tourism lies in inherently structuring a polar approach to Germany as a tourist destination for Israelis, linking past events (the Holocaust) and present (or very recent) events, as in the mention of the terrorist attack on Israeli athletes in Munich in the 1972 Olympics. The dual reference to the Holocaust, along with the Munich terrorist attack—an event on German soil and beyond Israel’s borders—links the two historical events and creates a common time axis between them. The concept of the State of Israel as the haven of the Jewish nation is thus at once applied to the Jewish past and the Jewish-Israeli present.
In another example, from the 1982 A Europe guide for travelers [51], the link connecting past and present through memory of the Holocaust is drawn by presenting the ethnic conflicts in current day Israel. The author then extends that context to discuss what he considers to be a more profound conflict Jews have experienced with the world at large:
When you read about the long history of Jewish suffering, you wonder what made them cling so tightly to places where they were so despised. Life in the Diaspora, an exile …I have a good friend who emigrated to Germany and when we argued once he tried to explain that he had more rapport with his German neighbor than with a Yemenite Jew in Israel. And I wonder where we failed.
[51], p. 664
The justification for outgoing Israeli tourism thus relies on establishing belonging to the Israeli national collective as an issue of survival stemming from the need to collectively cope with the traumas of Jewish existence in a hostile world.
Recent decades have shown a shift in this process of coping with collective traumas, specifically the Holocaust, from a collective or national approach to a personal perspective. This personal coping is evident in how such memories are commemorated, previously by holding official and national memorial days, and increasingly by alternative and more personal ceremonies [43,45].
The following example, taken from the book The pleasures of Paris [52], points to the weighty role guidebooks play in this process through proposed daily itineraries. The book opens with a self-introduction by the author, describing himself as: “... a Parisian. Because to be a Parisian is to be a citizen of the world, and one need not be French for that. Paris belongs to us all.” [52], p. 15. This echoes a wider process shifting the collective weight and opting for an individualism typical of Israel in this period [53]. It demonstrates how outgoing tourism has enabled Israeli tourists to feel both part of and apart from the world, established in the temporary and imaginary duration of the trip [54]. Nevertheless, later in the book, in a chapter titled “A city’s loathing for its Jews-Paris and Us”, Inbar does link the Israeli tourist with Jewish history, proposing a private and personal commemoration of the Holocaust with a tourist experience at the Louvre Museum:
It is impossible to visit museums, especially in the Louvre, without referencing the Holocaust—the great theft of artworks by the Nazis... Equipped with MNR lists (of artwork looted during the Holocaust), I have spent many hours walking the Louvre with its hundreds of artworks exhibited to the public, contemplating the works with a new, hard look, a gaze not shared with 99.99% of museum visitors. I asked guards but they were unfamiliar with MNR markings or where these artworks were presented. I searched and found many...in almost every gallery, from almost every period, renowned painters and anonymous masters. And it was dreadful, because beyond art I saw the sights of Auschwitz.
[52], p. 60
This subjective, private, and personal traversing of the Louvre in the footsteps of Jewish history clarifies the way in which a tourist trip instills sites with cultural meanings. These meanings are created as unique to each visitor, exceeding not only the physical attributes of the destination but also its place in Israeli and world culture. In a sense, the tangible site (in this case, the Louvre) is depicted as a clean slate, where one can sketch, playfully and provisionally, a path to coping with collective traumas in private and personal ways. Entwining the personal tourist present with collective memory and commemoration of the past severs contemporary tourists from the present reality of their trip. It creates a cultural timeline connecting between the Jewish past and the Israeli present, thus consolidating an Israeli-Jewish place-identity with an accepted historical continuity within mainstream Israeli cultural discourse. The very motivation to travel abroad is thus constructed within dominant, culturally accepted ideological boundaries.

4.2. The Role of Being an Israeli Tourist: Global Community and Spatial Continuity

Israeli guidebooks have served throughout the years to justify outgoing Israeli tourism by constructing the on-trip roles and behaviors of Israeli tourists abroad as to comply with dominant Jewish Israeli Zionist perceptions. By doing so, the books advocated a sense of belonging rooted in Israel’s spatial space as it contends with threats posed by the global spatial space. Israeli-diaspora relations and emigration from Israel were often debated in the books as a way of justifying Israeli tourism abroad. Tourism was depicted as a way to alleviate, without taking real risks, the tension between two opposing requirements: diminishing the sense of alienation and threat posed by the global sphere to Israeli tourists; and dealing with the idea of immigration from Israel in a temporal, restricted manner. To achieve those goals, two tactics were used in the guidebooks for constructing Israeli tourism:
  • Culturally constructing tourist roles and behaviors while abroad to establish a sense of Jewish-Israeli global community by preserving ties to Diaspora Jewry.
  • Culturally constructing tourist roles and behaviors while abroad to establish a sense of Jewish-Israeli spatial continuity in a global world, an idea designed to counterbalance emigration from Israel.
A central principle in Zionist philosophy ties the individual to the collective and largely rejects the idea of individualism [55]. This was prevalent in outgoing Israeli tourist guidebooks until the end of the 20th century, perpetuating the inherent contradiction between being Jewish and the individual freedom to belong to any national framework other than the State of Israel. Accordingly, many guidebooks did not present tourism as a personal and private act, but as a mission of the Israeli collective to encounter its representatives overseas.
The first book relating tourism abroad (in Cyprus) to domestic Israeli issues was published in 1962, and begins with an introduction stating that “readers will also find in these pages information about the Jews in Cyprus, past and present” [56], p. 3. The book not only establishes an inseparable connection between Israeli Jews and those in the destination country, it also entrusts Israelis with the task of strengthening the connection of Diaspora Jewry to Israel by encountering visiting and local Jews. For example, the author writes that: “The children of Cyprus Jews... maintain close ties with Israel...these young people do not see their future in Cyprus”, and extends this claim by arguing that the attraction of Jewish Cypriots to Israel lies in the fact that about 150 Israeli Jews “... are employed here (in Cyprus) as experts, instructors, or foremen. Israeli experts are an important factor in the development of Cyprus” [56], p. 10.
A similar concept of Jewish life in the Diaspora is evident in USA: A tourist guide [57], published in 1965, which is the first Hebrew book published in Israel dedicated to the US. In the introduction, the author clarifies that she believes very few Israelis are genuine tourists in the US, which is why her target audience also includes “…students and trainees, and civil servants on overseas assignments...” [57], p. 5. Hence, and to avoid textual excess, she frequently refers to US destinations with local Jewish populations. For example, she provides a one-and-a-half-page review of “New York Jews”, referencing Emma Lazarus’ sonnet “The New Colossus” beside the Statue of Liberty, the Emanuel Synagogue on Fifth Avenue, and, regarding Brooklyn, she writes: “Not incidentally, Brooklyn is known as ‘the Jewish city New York’. Until the mid-1950s, it had the largest Jewish population in the world (one million) and today only the State of Israel has a greater number” [57], p. 61. This focus on the lives of American Jews echoes the Zionist conception of interdependence between American and Israeli Jews, whereby American Jewry constitutes the “home front troops” of the Zionist campaign, assisting by the Israeli forces on the front [58], p. 102.
Justifying tourism as a means of maintaining contact with Diaspora Jewry via tourist representatives of the Israeli collective continued throughout the 1980s in many guidebooks. In the Bazak guide to USA and Canada [59], for example, Israelis touring in the US are depicted as enlistees for the Jews of America. Towards the end of the book, in a chapter titled “The Jewish world in the US,” the author discusses the issue of “American Jews” vs. “Jewish Americans”:
After World War I, most Jews questioned whether they were Jews of American citizenship or Americans of Jewish descent. Those who devoted their time to Jewish aid organizations, Zionism, politics, and religion within the Jewish community were undoubtedly Jewish American citizens, but many distanced themselves from their communities, cutting all ties to their Judaism.
[59], p. 701
This excerpt reiterates one of the key fears within Zionism, particularly regarding American Jews, of assimilation and of losing motivation for Jewish sovereign nationalism. American Jewry were regarded as the largest and most significant concentration of Jews outside the State of Israel from the earliest days of Israel’s independence, one of enormous significance for the State [58]. This duality, requiring loyalty to the Zionist vision from Israel’s “American brothers” while in some sense also accepting their circumstances, is interestingly presented in the next paragraph:
For many years, the horrors of the Holocaust made it clear to American Jews that they were Jews first and foremost. Their loyalty to their native US remained undiminished, but their commitment to a shared Jewish destiny and to the State of Israel as a haven for all Jews of the world became more intense and gained momentum in the Zionist movement in America, as did their generous contributions, their steady support of Israel, and the public pressure they exert for Israel whenever needed.
[59], p. 704, emphasis in original
Indeed, the book states that—“Of the adult Jewish population, 37% have visited Israel at least once, an indication of the great interest of the American Jewish community in Israel” [59], p. 704, even though “American Jewry, comprised of immigrants from all over the world, were absorbed well in their new homeland” [59], p. 706.
From the mid-1970s onwards, and with even greater frequency during the mid-1980s and the following decade, guidebooks also began to justify outgoing tourism as a means of dealing with thoughts of emigration from Israel. The first example of this was published in 1973 in Guide for Israeli tourists in the United States [60], which justifies a visit to the US, which was until recently “a far and distant land”, with an ostensibly rhetorical question: “Why not?” [60], p. 9. It is followed by a detailed answer that shifts between two extremes.
On the one hand, the author describes the tourist sphere at the destination as familiar and comfortable for Israelis through its association to Judaism. The very discovery of America is described in that sense through Jewish eyes: “Even Columbus...was Jewish... If there is contention as to Columbus’ origins, there is no doubt that five of his shipmates were Jews” [60], p. 5. New York is described as an “almost Jewish city” [60], p. 6, clarifying its Jewish population equals that of the entire State of Israel [60], p. 7. Hebrew signs in the city are referred to in the rhetorical question “…could it be that the influence of Hebrew is so great that it has reached this far?” [60], p. 6, and “…in the section between 5th and 6th Avenues you would find it difficult to believe you are not in Israel” [60], p. 8.
On the other hand, this comfort in a non-Israeli sphere based on Jewish affiliation is constructed as conditioned on the feeling that you have not truly left your country behind. Thus, to Israeli tourists suddenly feeling homesick during their trips, Yahel offers sites which “…if you miss Israelis while in Los Angeles, you can meet them in the following places...” [60], p. 142. The recurrent longing for home continued to appear even a decade later, as apparent in the next example regarding Israeli expatriates:
In New York and Los Angeles, there are two large Israeli communities, which follow all immigrant rules... In every big city, the Israeli tourist can find falafel stalls and Israeli nightclubs, populated by expatriates nostalgic for the old homeland [59], p. 707.
A more explicit discussion of the complex attitudes of Israelis to emigration can be found in the 1997 publication by Yehonatan Geffen—Far from the tree: New York-Tel Aviv, excerpts and recommendations from the Big Apple [56]. This is a unique guidebook, structured unconventionally on Geffen’s distinct preferences and tastes, an artist well-known in Israeli culture. While the author barely touches on Jewish-Israeli issues in the US, he does include an unequivocal statement in his introduction focusing on emigration from Israel, and his clear stance that Israelis should prefer Israel:
Many thanks to my common sense, that despite language and name, for personal and ideological reasons I considered emigration and exile. But I was compelled to instructed to bid goodbye to the Big Apple and return to Israel. To return to the land, which despite the State, is the most beautiful, friendly, and wonderful country in the world. And who knows, maybe one day I’ll write a guidebook about my own country. She deserves it. I deserve it. Easy.
[61], p. 13
Interestingly, this example implies that, even in the late 2000s, with accelerated globalization, the discourse of Israeli guidebooks continued to be constructed within the boundaries of a somewhat conservative Zionist perception. At the same time as describing New York as “an amazing city... the capital of the world” [61], p. 10, Geffen’s longing for Israel frames life outside Israel as exile. Thoughts of leaving Israel are textually permitted while under the fanciful guise of the tourist. This guise is thus used as a tool for distinguishing between the “pretend time” of the trip and “real time”, where one is mandated to live in Israel and avoid the fate of “Jews in the Diaspora”.
In many ways, Geffen’s instructions are indicative of the significance of tourism, and specifically tourism media and guidebooks, in facing global change and the struggle between neo-national, global, and post-national forces. This constant shifting between two polarities, the particularistic ethnocentricity of Jewish-Zionist national identity set against and the universalist, post-national, and supranational extreme, is typical of cultural discourse in Israel in recent decades [62]. The disintegration of the Zionist political and cultural center and the erosion of traditional identities, including national identity [53], underscores the significance of the impermanent and fanciful nature of tourism for the construction of Israeli place-identity. Tourism, and guidebooks specifically, are in that sense a unique venue for venting the tensions at the core of Israeli culture, and constructing a Jewish-Israeli place-identity in times of crisis.

4.3. Post-Trip Meanings of Outgoing Tourism: Israeli-National “Imagined Community” and Global Israeli Tourism

The justification strategy for outgoing Israeli tourism is also, and most significantly, applied in guidebooks as a means of constructing an Israeli-national “imagined political community” [63]. Anderson’s notion of nation-building relies on the role of the media in the formation of nationalism as an imagined perception of the nation as “inherently limited and sovereign” ([63], p. 6). In that sense, Israeli guidebooks take part in Israeli nation-building through advocating the State of Israel’s place as a nation among the world nations.
Two main justifications are employed in the guidebooks for constructing the excursion outside Israeli territory as means for discussing Israel’s international status, and the role of Israeli tourists as representatives of the Israeli State in the world:
  • Culturally constructing an Israeli-national imagined community through advocating Israel’s status as a national entity and its prominence on the world stage.
  • Culturally constructing a sense of belonginess to the global sphere by designing the Israeli tourist experience abroad as both, and at the same time, an Israeli collectivist and global, individualistic endeavor.
An Inexpensive Guide to Touring Europe: A pocket guide for the Israeli student [64], is one of the first books that textually used tourism discourse to establish the political perception of Israel and Israelis as a state and nation among the countries of the world. Here, Israeli students touring Europe is justified as part of the process of consolidating Israeli self-perception as a “European” state—while always remaining committed to the Israeli collective, a commitment carried beyond its borders. For example, the author states that “The purpose of this guide is to help students in Europe see the most with a minimum of time and money” [64], p. 6, and even boasted that “…in editing the book, we were greatly helped by students who sent us materials documenting their experiences in Europe.” [64], p. 4. Yet, he also rebuked Israeli travelers who refused to cooperate with the collective task of gathering materials with the reproach: “This guide is imperfect, as the 1955…passengers I contacted refused my request...more could be added and refined, had they…cooperated to provide information that would have enhanced the guide they used” [64], p. 5. The inherent obligation of the individual to act for the public good has always been a founding principle of Zionist philosophy [55]. The collective enlistment demanded by this author corresponds to that basic principle, further consolidating an Israeli place-identity by seeing tourism as a collective act and Israeli tourists as vanguard forces.
However, in this book, there is also particular emphasis on how belonging to a collective framework benefits individuals. Belonging enables dissipating the sense of alienation that is, according to the book, intrinsic to Israeliness and Israelis in Europe, palpable in the day to day of the trip on various levels. “Israeli citizens still need visas to visit all the countries…”, the author notes in his description of the special preparations Israelis must complete prior to their trip, a necessity despite the “…considerable progress in opening tourism relations between Israel and various European countries...Israeli students encounter difficulties in obtaining visas” [64], p. 14. The author also adds that “Israeli students frequently pack unnecessary and heavy items that are a nuisance when traveling. European or American students settle for a backpack...” [64], p. 34, and “…every Israeli in Europe wants orderly and fast postal service to receive letters from Israel.” [64], p. 46. The author even warns about the local cuisines because—“…there is no point searching for foods you are used to in Israel. Even vegetables such as tomatoes or cucumbers are expensive in Scandinavian countries.” [64], p. 43.
From the mid-1970s, the Lapid’s guide to Europe series offered a more complex approach to Israel’s global status and to the cultural place of outgoing tourism in building Israel’s position in the world. The alienation of Israelis in Europe is still evident, as when the author remarks on letters of thanks sent to him regarding his book: “...that instilled in me an almost frightening sense of responsibility, one I bear in guiding Israeli tourists in foreign countries” [50], p. 11. However, unlike earlier guidebooks, in this series the Israeli tourist is depicted as a “…man of the world...the Israeli knows more about the world than the world knows about him” [50], p. 9.
Furthermore, Lapid’s guidebooks depict tourism itself, described as “touring the world,” as an activity of political significance in Israeli domestic and foreign contexts. Lapid argues that, at least in the intra-Israeli context, outgoing tourism constitutes an act of almost active opposition to decisions of the Israeli government: “…the Israeli government does everything it can to ensure leaving the country is expensive… (but) even the Finance Ministry cannot moderate the Israeli’s strong desire to see the world. Fact: People are going.” [50], p. 13.
In the inter-Israeli context, Israeli tourists are described in the book as having broad political significance, and are even assigned functional tasks. For example, the author proposes criteria for selecting hotels based on the opinions of Israelis living there or local Jews, as “only a local Jew, for example, could have warned me about a hotel in Athens, which everyone praised but most of its guests complained about” [50], p. 10. He also references many sites with a Jewish connection, or those “which are, incidentally, Jewish-owned” (p. 132), and mentions kosher restaurants or those best adapted for the Israeli palate. However, a review of Lapid’s writing reveals that he believes the adoption of an “Israeli tourist identity” exceeds mere considerations of preferences and schedules:
How to be Israeli. Being Israeli overseas is a role—a representative role. Israelis are not like everyone else, especially as among the Gentiles you are also a ‘Jew,’ a new situation for you. In most Western European countries, there is a natural tendency to treat Israelis sympathetically...however, there is nothing like a trip to Europe to demonstrate to you that the problems of the Middle East concern people only to the extent that they threaten world peace or pose risks to Western economies.
[50], p. 63
Thus, the guiding logic is that while Israelis may (perhaps by following recommendations in the book) conduct themselves as Europeans when in Europe, their Israeli-Jewish identity distinguishes them in environments which are indifferent to Israel and Israelis. Lapid positions Israeli-Jewish tourism as a representative tourism, exemplifying Judaism and Israel, and obliging Israelis to maintain clear rules of conduct within “role” parameters. The representative dimension of Israeli tourism in the world is evident in other books as well, and often accompanied by explicit behavior rules: “…when you visit overseas, you serve, whether you like it or not, as a representative of Israel…and so it is appropriate that we should behave with some self-control…less loudly…repeat to yourself the message that not everyone needs to know that Israelis are coming” [51], p. 23.
This view of Jewish Israeliness as an essential feature differentiating Israeli tourists from all other tourists, echoes to some extent the “Distant Jew” narrative prevalent in Israeli media recounting the tale of “Jewish isolationism in a hostile world” [62], p. 15. This narrative of Israeli nationalism underlines Israel’s desire to take its place among the world nations juxtaposed against the futility of this ever coming to pass due to the constant opposition of all non-Jews [62].
Another example of this shift between two extremes can be seen in the handful of Hebrew guidebooks published in Israel on destinations in Arab countries. In the late 1970s, and even prior to the signing of the historic Israel-Egypt peace agreement, some Israeli tourist guides on Egypt were published and presented a review of the complicated relations between the two countries and information about their citizens.
In Egypt [65], the approach to describing the destination country is based on the presumption of a “natural” association between different countries and peoples. The first justification for Israeli-Jewish tourism in Egypt sees tourism as an option for a return to the days of yore and an integration of Middle Eastern peoples. For example, the book opens with a statement about the collective past:
Historical events temporarily separated between the peoples and created the current conflict between them, starting from the return of the Israeli nation to its land. The historical link between the two nations has never been severed. The common past of both nations is felt in the present…when weren’t the people of Israel connected to Egypt?
[65], pp. 9–10
A second justification is that tourism promotes and establishes the peace process between the State of Israel and Egypt. In the introduction, for example, the author states that:
…this book... will not only educate the Israeli reader on the history of a neighboring country, but also serve as a guide for legions of Israelis crossing the short distance between Israel and Egypt’s capital cities...This book is not a dry essay; it is imbued with the belief that the cycle of wars will end and the age of peace will begin. Then, this faithful guide will serve the hundreds of thousands of Israelis who visit Egypt to become familiarized with the wonderful people sitting on the banks of the Nile.
[65], pp. 9–10
A guide to Egypt [66], published five years after the Egypt–Israel Peace Treaty, presents a more cautious view of a peaceful future, and significantly eases the responsibilities of the “Israeli tourist” to ensure its realization. In the chapter titled “An Israeli in Egypt,” the author notes that regarding future of relations between the two countries:
…there are serious difficulties in expanding cooperation...one should keep in mind that...the dominant Egyptian viewpoint is that the peace does not mark an end to the political struggle against Israel or an abandonment of Egypt’s fundamental opposition to Zionism. On the contrary, peace is described as a reconciliation ‘strategy’ aimed at bringing Israel to cede the territories that it conquered in 1967...
[66], p. 51
The magnitude of Israeli tourism in normalizing relations with the Egyptians is also diminished in this book: “For many Egyptians, the peace is still in a trial period...a small minority even maintains an active boycott against Israelis” [66], p. 41. Moreover, even if “…the vast majority of Egyptians you encounter show unreserved openness and warmth, lauding the peace” [66], p. 41, Israeli tourists are still instructed to follow the rules of conduct: “Do not push them (in Egypt) to get embroiled in political arguments, avoid attempts to educate people not eager to listen about Zionism, and do not rush to recount experiences of war” [66], p. 41.
The tourist role the book ascribes to Israeli tourists is also worded as a requirement that Israeli tourists stay “blind” to their surroundings while traveling and restrict their involvement in the foreign environment:
“You are not just a guest in Egypt. Whether you like it or not—Egyptians will see you as a representative of Israel and many of them tend to judge the country, the peace, based on Israeli tourist conduct… You may occasionally encounter annoying incidents: anti-Israel posters; antisemitic books like the ‘The Protocols of the Elders of Zion’, hateful newspaper headlines…leave it to the government and the embassy to deal with this as they see fit. Stay tourists.”
[66], p. 41
The demand to “…simply “stay tourist” commandeers tourism from the individual tourist, transforming it into a collective mission with national, political, religious, and cultural dimensions. Over the years, the accelerated globalization processes in Israel in tandem with increased outgoing tourism after the open skies treaty in the 1990s, led in the 2000s to less conflictual associations with Israeli tourism. This progression influenced the construction of an individualistic Israeli-Jewish tourist identity, one that did permit Israelis (if only for a short time and in outlined geographic areas) to be “just tourists.”
In China: A traveler guide (including Tibet and Hong Kong) [67], Israelis are depicted as indistinguishable from the general Western tourist trend flocking to China: “China is a vast country and there is much to see…there is a brief window in which China is open to Western tourism and specifically Israeli tourism” [67], p. 9. This perception of Israeli tourism as just another element of Western tourism is evident in the few references exclusively addressed to Israeli tourists in China, and an emphasis on their “Westernism” over their “Israeliness” or even their Judaism. For example, the book contains a reference to a house considered to be a Jewish family home because “...we talked to the landlady, and she said that her late husband did consider himself a descendant of Jews, but she did not. According to the mezuzah on the doorframe (Bezalel?), it’s clear that Western Jews visited therebefore us” [67], p. 94. In other words, in relation to China, Israel is wholly in the West, and Israeli tourists are fully affiliated with this West; despite their “unique” characteristics as Jews and Israelis, they bear no special responsibilities due to their country of origin.
A more complex perception of the dual Israeli tourist role, balancing an inherent uniqueness with the nondescript “just another tourist” status, is presented in The guide to the Far East [68]. The book describes the trip as a unique, almost collective Israeli experience: “Israelis have traveled to the East before you, and for the most part will accompany you” [68], p. 22, and “(there are) dozens of examples of Israeli influence in the East and the power of our presence there. But only when you arrive there will you truly understand” [68], p. 56. However, and at the same time, the lack of familiarity of the target population with Israel promises a successful trip:
Some of the most interesting experiences on the trip is the sudden discovery of entire populations completely detached from our own almighty God which do not seem to be overly distressed by this fact. There are moments when a traveler may be overwhelmed with gratitude that the Buddha in his travels stepped not a foot in Jerusalem, and left the Buddhists, at least them, indifferent to debates on prayers on the Temple Mount or questions regarding who is accepted as a Jew.
[68], p. 56
In a way, this summary provided in the book outlines the experiences of the Israeli tourists abroad on the brink of the new millennium. The Israeli-Jewish tourist is now an individualistic tourist, adopting the Israeli tourist identity as a collective mission, as concurrently Israeli and a person of the world. Embarking on trips abroad is thus constructed to create a temporary, playful sphere of embodying a complex and conflicting Israeli-Jewish place-identity; a place-identity flexible enough to allow for stability.

5. Conclusions

Place attributes and how they are communicated and understood have become integral to tourism operation as well as research [17], p. 15. The current critical discourse analysis of 17 Israeli outgoing tourist guidebooks follows a main textual strategy of justification of outgoing tourism and six tactics that take part in its implementation. The analysis demonstrates how the justification of Israeli outgoing tourism is accomplished through the construction of tourists’ pre-trip motivations, on-trip roles and behaviors, and post-trip reflections. This is done in accordance with dominant, Israeli-Jewish ideology. In so doing, the research highlights tourism media’s role in the cultural construction of the overall meanings of global tourism. At the same time, it also points to the media’s role in shaping Israeli local place-identities amidst global changes.
The research suggests that Israeli guidebooks are uniquely ‘Israeli’ in their manifest preoccupation with constructing Israeli place-identity in and through Israel’s absence. It is the absence of Israel as a place that creates the textual opportunity to fill the void by perpetuating a shared sense of Israeli-Jewish time, space, and mind-set, thus creating a somewhat consensual Israeli-Jewish place-identity. The cultural construction of Israeli outgoing tourists pre-trip motivations, on-trip roles and behaviors, and post-trip reflections in accordance with local, Israeli, consensual place-identities plays, in that sense, a threefold role: (1) marketing destinations to tourists, even ones that are historically, culturally, socially, or politically conflictual within the Israeli public sphere; (2) culturally setting a more positive, affirming public sphere for global tourism against somewhat negating underlying views of outgoing tourism; and (3) taking an important cultural role as a field within which local place-identities are constructed against the backdrop of globalization.
This role may seem even more complicated when considering the intricate, ever-evolving interaction of books, specifically guidebooks, with place, history, and society in constructing place-identities. The temporal continuity that the books create between ‘there and then’ and ‘here and now’ demonstrates a reciprocal interaction of global and local, public and private, history and memories, society and self. The processing of traumatic past events serves not only as an organizing principle of the Israeli tourist trip, but can also be interpreted as the underlying reason the books suggest for Israel’s hold on the sovereign Jewish state. The setting of these discursive acts outside Israeli soil allows the books to emphasize the contradiction between Israel as a timeless notion of Jewish sanctuary, and the physical embodiment of Jewish-related past atrocities at the destination. The very absence of Israel as a physical place, and the creation of a common time axis between past and present, thus become a catalyst in constituting an Israeli-Jewish place-identity based on shared histories, collective memories, and commemoration.
Constructing place-identity in and by the absence of the place itself may be understood as yet another example of the ‘new mobility paradigm’ in tourism research, which view places as dynamic, putting people, objects, and ideas on the move [5], p. 6. The capriciousness of places may be even more evident in the way Israeli guidebooks construct a sense of spatial continuity between Israel and the world at large, familiarizing foreign landscapes by highlighting their Jewish affiliations. Tourism is understood as a means of tempering both estrangement from, and longing for, foreign places by extending the relations with Diaspora Jews and containing the idea of emigration in a controlled manner. Information, commentary, and site selection are inscribed to provide Israeli tourists with an opportunity to become acquainted with the world. At the same time, they tell the story of Jewish brethren overseas, let Israeli tourists know about the hardships of their lives, and allow them the possibility of entertaining thoughts of emigration without any of the real risks of permanently leaving Israel.
Finally, many conceptualizations of place-identity associate it with prolonged interaction with the place’s natural and built physical environment [4,5,9]. The current reading points instead to the intellectual environment created through outgoing tourism by the temporary interaction with the place’s absence. The role of tourism media in general, and guidebooks specifically, is in that sense crucial: it allows the formulation of an imagined political Israeli-national community that positions Israel on the world map and consolidates the stance of Israelis—neither wholly particularistic nor fully universal [62]. Analysis reveals Israeli tourism is depicted as a mission of a national obligatory nature as a way of resolving this polarity. It seems that tourism makes people “blind” to some social aspects, while perpetuating others. That is how Israeli outgoing tourism, and Israeli guidebooks, are able to take part in alleviating some inner-Israeli social tensions, supplying common grounds on which to form an Israeli-national imagined community.
Therefore, future research of place, people, and media is much needed. The current research intended to contribute to that knowledge by suggesting that local place-identities are constructed by global tourism through tourism media. However, it has focused only on the Israeli industry, and only on the Israel-Jewish identity. Directions for further research may include, in that sense, broadening the empirical investigation to different titles, cultural identities, publishing industries, and media products.
Two main theoretical considerations also deserve greater attention. First, distinguishing clearly between the physical attributes of the tourist experience and the social and cultural meanings ascribed to it, may illuminate the understanding of place-identity building. Considering the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on world tourism, this may be of great importance: can the cultural function of actual-tourism and actual-places be replaced with media-produced tourism and places? Second, it should be mentioned that this study examined books published until 2012, and does not include books of recent years. It would be appropriate to re-examine the function of outgoing tourist guidebooks in establishing place-identities in the age of digital media and escalating cultural globalization.

Funding

This research received no external funding.

Institutional Review Board Statement

Not applicable.

Informed Consent Statement

Not applicable.

Data Availability Statement

Not applicable.

Conflicts of Interest

The author declares no conflict of interest.

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Figure 1. Sampled Israeli outgoing tourism guidebooks, 1932–2012, in order of appearance in the article.
Figure 1. Sampled Israeli outgoing tourism guidebooks, 1932–2012, in order of appearance in the article.
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Figure 2. The cultural construction of local place identities and Israeli outgoing tourism guidebooks: Justifying global tourism through taking part in the cultural construction of Israeli outgoing tourists’ pre-trip motivations, on-trip tourist roles and behaviors, and post-trip perceptions.
Figure 2. The cultural construction of local place identities and Israeli outgoing tourism guidebooks: Justifying global tourism through taking part in the cultural construction of Israeli outgoing tourists’ pre-trip motivations, on-trip tourist roles and behaviors, and post-trip perceptions.
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