06 March '13..
What was The Sunday Times thinking when it allowed Anthony Sattin to write a short review of a newly published travel guide on Israel?
While Sattin is a travel writer, allowing this self-declared critic of Israel to review the Israel Baedeker Guide was the equivalent of sending a vegan member of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) to review a new steak and burger restaurant.
Sattin was a signatory to an open letter to then British Prime Minister Gordon Brown that appeared in The Times on December 1, 2009, expressing support for the infamous Goldstone Report that accused Israel of committing “war crimes” during its Operation Cast Lead.
That Sattin is hostile towards Israel is clear from his short yet blatantly politicized book review:
Israel has tried hard over many years to normalise its occupation of Palestinian territory, something the UN and many governments, including our own, have resisted. Baedeker seems unaware of this as it wraps the Palestinian territories inside its new guide. Nowhere on the cover is the word Palestine mentioned. Inside, we are told Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, something that will come as news to the many nations that have their embassies in Tel Aviv. The map confirms this annexation: Ramallah, home of the Palestinian Authority, ought also to be marked as a capital, but is listed as a “seat of administration”. The only Palestinian included in a feature on 17 famous people is Yasser Arafat — what of Edward Saïd, Hanan Ashrawi, or the Orwell prizewinner Raja Shehadeh? This and many other seemingly insignificant slips appropriate Palestine into Israel in a way that will please Zionists, but fails to do what a good guide should, present an authoritative but balanced overview.
With a dig against “Zionists” at the end, is this really a review of a travel guide or is it just another excuse for attacking Israel?
Sadly, this isn’t the first time that a travel review has been turned into a tool for anti-Israel activism. Only in September 2012, a review of a cruise trip to Israel that appeared in The Sunday Times’s sister paper, The Times also turned into something less than stellar for the Israeli tourist industry.
Is this part of a trend developing where tourism becomes one more focus for the hateful Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment (BDS) movement?