War Tourism Is A Disturbing Trend On The Rise In Israel

War brings out the worst in people and in Israel it has given rise to the disturbing trend of war voyeurism.

Apparently a growing trend in Israel is war tourism, more specifically watching a war from mountaintops on the border with Syria to get a clear view of  the fighting taking place between the government and rebels.

Locations in the Golan Heights that have access to such views are attracting the majority of the so-called tourists.

"The other day I saw lots of rebels hiding out over there. It's like watching a game. One side shoots at the other," one frequent onlooker told the Haaretz.

It is indeed a disturbing development.

While they revel in seeing smoke, bombs and guns going off from a distance, there is actual death and destruction taking place down there.

The Syrian refugee crisis had now become "the biggest humanitarian emergency of our era." The number of refugees fleeing the country has surpassed 3 million at the end of August this year, or more than 1 in 8 Syrians.

When this level of death and mayhem becomes a tourist attraction, hopes for a better future remain dim.

Disturbing as it may be, war voyeurism is nothing new. Historians trace it back centuries.

Nicholas Wood, former New York Times foreign correspondent, is known to have developed a taste for it and gave up his job as a journalist to conduct Political Tours, taking tourists to the world’s political hotspots in Israel, Libya and the Palestinian Territories. 

Traveling to war zones and other areas associated with death has become so rampant that there is now a Dark Tourism Institute established to look at the effects of war tourism on cultural sites around the globe.

 “Sometimes we have battles in front of us and tourists will hear the noises and see the fighting, but that happens only once every few months,” says Marom, a retired Israel Defense Forces colonel who now brings tourists to the Israeli-Syrian border. 

Thrill apparently is the name of the game. ”I’ll have tourists sitting at a wonderful lunch one mile from the border, and I tell them that al-Qaeda is looking at them, and they go crazy with it. They say, ‘Are you sure?’ To them, it’s like something from the moon, and they want to see,” adds Marom.

Touring companies including the likes of Political Tours, War Zone Tours and Wild Frontiers now reap a whopping $263 billion worth of business.

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