Saturday, July 9, 2011

Flotilla Passengers As Thrill-Seeking, Post-Modern Tourists

"The post-modern tourist seeks to provoke and thus create history..."

My mom sailed to Gaza and all
I got was this lousy T-Shirt
I'd been searching for an analysis of what seemed like "compassion tourism" to describe the flotilla and flytilla mania, and found it. This essay by Dr.Evgeni Klauber, a Fullbright Scholar and Visiting Lecturer in Comparative Politics and International Relations at Tel Aviv University is brilliant. Here is an excerpt from

"For some of its Western participants, the Gaza Peace Flotilla is not just an ordinary political protest: it is an exotic and dangerous cruise that involves a heroic element. In this sense, the flotilla represents a fashionable new type of tourism – call it “post-modern tourism.”
"In the 21st century, the geography and the characteristics of tourism underwent extensive changes. Once, tourism was an activity designed to expand our experiences of time and space – it involved seeking new specific locations to be explored for a limited and specific period of time. Modern tourists sought to observe undiscovered paradises, to widen their traditional frameworks, to break away from routines.
"Post-modern tourists, by contrast, do not want to just expand their space-time frameworks: they want to experience new systems of meanings. Post-modern tourists have made their way to the detention facilities at the Guantanamo Bay prison to spend a whole day in captivity; they have traveled to Gulag in Siberia to spend a week in conditions designed to make them feel the crimes of Stalin’s dark regime on “their own skins.”
"Today, post-modern tourists sign up for the exotic tour to Gaza to buy a moment of excitement and emergency that they expect Israel will provide as it resists the flotilla’s challenges its sovereignty. The experiential peak of the flotilla was supposed to be immediate: one can sign up on-line for the “overpriced” third-class cruise, and after several days of an exotic tour – the short, intensive, and high-pressure moment of meeting the Leviathan, a powerful Hobbesian sovereign which will emerge out of the sea to make order. The difference between modern and post-modern tourists is that the former try to personally experience objects that belong to history, while post-modern tourist seeks to provoke and thus create history (perhaps inspired by the 2010 flotilla)." Carry on reading here.
Postscript: Check out Eyeless to Gaza for an excellent send-up of the Flotilla enterprise.


  1. What's priceless is that 972mag even printed it. It's a furiously antizionist blog. And the letters attached to that column shrieking insane outraged complaints.

  2. Dr. Klauber now provided more comments on Flotilla-Flytilla post-modern touristic experiences on blog972. Its extremely important.

  3. Dear Anon - I think that Dr. Klauber may be over-thinking this. The Flo/Flytistas are bourgeois Western baby boomers who have been fishing for an issue since the end of the Vietnam war. They only get off their arm chairs if the setting is exotic and relatively safe.

  4. This is exactly what Dr. Klauber says in his comment:

    "Unfortunately, the Flotilla participants belong to the later category of participants. According to my evaluation, these people do not belong to the group involved in the events I just mentioned above. This group defines itself as not ideological, they like to take risks due to their immediate social environments and, they treat Flotilla as a product that can be purchased by means of material investment. Like in every touristic attraction, the post-modern tourists evaluate their risks, expect certain level of facilities to be offered, and as long as Flotilla is treated as a touristic product, it can be compared to the experiences in Gulag’s cells and Guantanamo Bay detention facilities. Let me give you another example that will clarify the difference between political activists and post-modern tourists. We cannot even imagine that symbolic T-shirts for the resistance movements, which ask to end the war in Iraq, will be purchased before the war took place. Of course, after the war started and after thorough debates about the nature of this war emerge, retroactively, one can join related political movement and get the T-shirt. For post-modern tourists in Gaza, however, those T-shirts are available before the actual event takes place. One can purchase those T-shirts together with other apparel of post-modern tourism in special agencies. Flotilla-Flytilla, in this sense is distinguished from general pro-Palestinian movement. Post-modern tourists do not want to get a T-shirt with pro-Palestinian rhetoric: the want to purchase a T-shirt with Flotilla-Flytilla forthcoming event’s symbols. The regular pro-Palestinian rhetoric is boring, while the event-centered heroic rhetoric brings much more excitement and meaning into regular touristic attraction"

  5. Klauber is getting clobbered over at +972. Here is a great excerpt from one of his responses to a commenter:

    Let’s take a brief look at the supporters of the Flytilla operation organized by other pro-Palestinian activists over the last weekend. Tom Innes, the spokesman for the flight from Britain, told Ynet that there was no intent to cause a violent disruption at the airport; and he added that those arriving in the “fly-in” were “just tourists.” Obviously, the “just tourists,” here, is not ultimately my theoretical elaboration – it’s their self-declaration statement. What, then, transforms those “just tourists” into activists? That particular event that I am talking about – a simulated moment of danger – will do the job. For the rest of the time post-modern tourists can enjoy regular tourists’ attractions. My argument about personally biased motivations of the Flytilla participants was strengthened once again after several not formal interviews I conducted with the participants of the Flytilla at Tel-Aviv’s night clubs, such as Bukovsky. After the interviews with the foreigners it was clear: the Flytilla participants from Belgium, Germany and UK have enjoyed Tel-Aviv’s night life, a major Israeli touristic attraction, during the weekend. Since modern tourists can also enjoy Tel-Aviv’s night life during any other weekend, the post-modern tourists added to this experience a “good cause,” which made their participation into more “meaningful” and risky.

  6. Brilliant!
    They go out in Tel Aviv and then by T-shirts of the Flotilla, and they become involved in some artificial conflict.
    Also, they came because airlines made cheap tickets for that weekend. We need to ask how that happened?

  7. Perhaps they got a group rate?


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