Political reality tours, where tourists are exposed to sights that describe current political or social realities as opposed to historical sights or pleasure spots, have become an important tool in the work of peace and activist organizations in Israel. These tours are especially popular in and around Jerusalem where the effects of the post 1967 Israeli “occupation” can most easily be seen. All of the political reality tours in Jerusalem visit the same sites and highlight the policies and implications involved in the most contentious issue of the conflict – the city of Jerusalem. However, the methods of each NGO vary, resulting in different reactions from the participants. This study undertakes exploratory research to understand why political reality tourism in Jerusalem is an important tool for peace and activist organizations, how participants of different backgrounds react to the tours and, ultimately, to determine which elements of a political reality tour of Jerusalem contribute to fostering a spirit of peacebuilding in Israel/Palestine rather than further polarizing people? The research is comprised of interviews with tour guides representing three Israeli NGOs in Israel which operate political reality tours, first hand observation from joining the tours, and interviews and surveys of participants who participated in the tours. The results of the preliminary research show that, if given in a manner which focuses on language, balance, and trusted sources of information, three hour political reality tours of Jerusalem increase participants’ knowledge of the situation, offer alternative perspectives and have the potential to elicit empathy from the participants to the parties involved. Whether or not these tours are used to their maximum potential in regard to peacebuilding is still an area for further research


Arts and Humanities | Defense and Security Studies | Hospitality Administration and Management | Peace and Conflict Studies | Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration