Uzi Yalon

Good Morning panel on this table
It gives me a great honor to be on this panel with distinguished Personalities who has an influence on what could be done against international terror, Special joy gives me. The fact that His Excellency Zaid Al-Bandk is on this Panel.

When I was offered by My Good Friend Louis D’amore to be part of this panel with the topic of “a strategic Tourism Industry Response to Int’l Terrorism” in my capacity as one of the leaders of Skal International , my first reaction was to say “There is nothing I can Say” , What an International Tourism Association that I belong too and other associations, can do directly against the most dangerous activity around the world which exists these days, “International Terrorism”. This is a strategy that the world’s governments together and individually has to take action against. Governments have the means and tools to run campaigns against int’l terrorism; I am not the one to give them advices what to do. Many governments do take action, not always successfully, but we the international tourism industry, can’t do anything, directly about this disease. The only thing that we can contribute, is
activity for creation of pubic opinion that in turn will pressure the governments to act drastically against this malignant tumor.

Being an Israeli born I will, with your permission, tell you something that is summarizing the situation in our area; Israel & the Palestinian Authority. Many Jews of high class in the academy, commerce, art etc. who lived in
Germany & Austria in the beginning of the last century, most of them non religious Jews, they were the elite, very well connected to the authorities, academy etc... Some of Them left Germany when they sensed the atmosphere being
changed over there, good number of them migrated to the USA, some came to Palestine / Israel, this of course was before the State of Israel was formed. Among the ones who came to Israel was a famous philosopher and author, Stephan Zweige.

Zweige arrived to the Holy Land, and was shocked; he found nothing much, Few Arab and Jewish villages, a small port in Jaffa, few small cities and a small university in Jerusalem that was just founded. The population was poor living on primitive agriculture and nothing more.
Zweige was corresponding with his good friend, the famous Zigmond Freud who lived in Germany and wrote to him “I arrived to a country that has nothing” Freud answered him “this is the land of the bible, in this land we have only God and Religions, and with this the country have to make up survive and exist”.

Yes, every country sells what she has. In Israel , the Palestinian authority & Jordan as well, we have no minerals (except the dead sea minerals) no petrol gas, gold, diamonds , nothing we have is unique. But we have the origin of the Monotheistic religions & God, these is mainly what we can sell to the tourists, this is unique to us. Sea and sun can be found in many places, antiquities we can find in many places, But the origin of the religions is ours.

No body in the worlds of the Islam, Christianity & Judaism haven’t heard about Jerusalem, The Jordan River, Bethlehem, Nazareth, Jesus, Mohamed etc... We, can sell to the world the cradle of religions, on this we have no competition, The tremendous potential is not exploited and not utilized.

The failure in selling to the world what we are the best in, is a direct damage caused by the terrorism during the times that we had here a hope for coming peace, the in-coming tourism, more than doubled it self and reached millions, which is still nothing to the potential we have.
I am sure that we the people of our region have the right to talk about the damages of terrorism; we are the number 1 casualty of the terrorism.

As we all know there is no industry which is as sensitive and fragile as the tourist industry, and the damage caused to tourism is spreading around in circles and touches all the levels of our economy, not to speak of death and injuries. All these are specific to our area. Every pips here has an echo in disproportional measures, no person of the 3 religions and others is’ indifferent to the name of places he hear Jerusalem, Beth Lehem etc..

When somebody is being stabbed in Jaffa - Gate in Jerusalem, the modern media brings it immediately to the world who hear the news 24 hours a day. Stabbing and other such events are happening around the world every hour but nobody knows about it. And the response from the tourists is here with no delay, they stop coming.

Our area could have been a blooming garden to all our inhabitants Arabs and Jews. We are a region that the main product we can offer is tourism and all this is prevented to us by the terror. Ironically that instead of tourism we are selling to the world, security and
assistance to areas that suffered tragedies and disasters caused by nature and men, these are the areas we had to be specialized in due to the disasters caused by terrors that we have suffered ourselves.

The only way, as I said that we, as international organizations, can act, is by creating public opinion in the world that will pressure the governments to act in drastic means against the terror.

We, Skal International are working for the creation of cooperation among our members around the world in order to reach recognition and knowledge of the other person and for acceptance that life in coexistence are more beneficial than hostility.

We as international body running every year international congresses & regional meetings in different venues. We are trying to convene in places that need us, places that have suffered disasters or unrest of any kind, we had an international congress in Sri Lanka in the midst of the terrorist period, we went to India and South Africa when it was needed, we went to Phuket just after the hit of the Zunami.

The places we meet in, get the exposure and we show the public that they can travel to these destinations.

In our immediate area Skal international is very active in encouraging connections among members and chapters that had frictions of different kinds, in order to
smooth the relations and facilitate business relations among the members. Skal Israel was instrumental in the inaugurating of Beth Lehem Chapter. In Jerusalem we have 2 chapters the East Jerusalem one, who is connected to Jordan, and the West Jerusalem one, who is connected to Israel, the 2 boards meet occasionally in the purpose of creating mutual events.

Last Thursday we have inaugurated an integrated chapter under the name “Red Sea Bay”; this chapter consist of members from North Sinai — Egypt, Aqaba — Jordan and Eilat — Israel, it is a unique example for cooperation of people from 3 countries that were not so friendly some time ago. This is going to be a model to our organization.

I am sure that it will contributes to the understanding among the members and will ease the cooperation in campaigns to bring more tourists to the entire area, I am just sorry that we can’t have for, the time being, a fourth country — Saudi. Another example is Cyprus , we have there 6 chapters, 3 in the Greek side and 3 in the Turkish side, we have just past a decision to incorporate the 6 chapters under one umbrella for mutual activities and we are sure it is going to do good. These kinds of activities should be dealt similarly in organizations that have members from different origins and under some’ frictions among themselves, for cooperation. This will help normalization,’ diffusion of tensions and will create public opinion for peace and against terror.

International organization should be involved in dialogs, dialogs between nations and dialogs between groups & individuals.

International organizations should hold their international and regional
congresses in venues that have suffered of terror or other disasters.

Most important is that all international organizations of all kinds would not cooperate with countries which are discriminating against some members of the organizations. Our organizations should not give a helping hand for arranging international meeting of any kind where the hosting country is denying entrée to all the members from all the countries to participate in the meeting. If this will be applied by many international organizations it will help for changing the attitude by the authorities and change the atmosphere for more tolerance.
I am not sure if I have contributed any thing to the subject, but as I have said in the beginning, I can not offer specific ideas for a direct activity against the international terror, this is the responsibility of governments who have to unite and act together seriously, and
not only go out with declarations, I know it is not easy but it can be done.

We, organizations, can only try and help areas that were hit, and work for the creation of tolerance, understanding and cooperation, among ourselves & our communities.