Wine Gladdens the Human Heart: Exposure to Political Violence, Political Tourism, and Intergroup Conflict in the West Bank.
As governments and communities spend large sums to promote tourist attractions, it is worth asking whether these activities influence the hosts’ political image. Does political tourism reduce intergroup conflict? By what mechanism does it do so? To address these questions we employ two experimental studies. Study 1 is a population-based survey-experiment administered to a representative population sample. Subjects are randomly assigned either to watch a video that simulates a tour to wineries and vineyards in Jewish settlements in the West Bank (treatment) or a video that simulates a visit elsewhere (control). Study 2 is a natural experiment based on a post-disengagement-from-Gaza policy of enhancing political tourism – visits to wineries and vineyards – in the Jewish settlements. We sampled Jewish Israeli tourists who were visiting the settlements for the first time before and after the intervention -- an organized and sponsored visit to the settlements' wineries and vineyards. Each tourist was asked to complete a structured questionnaire that measured attitudes towards the settlers and the settlement enterprise. A control group of Israeli Jews who did not visit settlement wineries was also asked to complete the questionnaire twice. We then pursued difference-in-difference estimation. We argue that political tourism makes subject populations less likely to support intergroup violence and intolerance, and more likely to identify with the political goals of the host group; we suggest exposure to political violence as the mechanism bridging political tourism with intergroup conflict. This establishes the often-overlooked significance of political tourism on peace-building and warrants rethinking Israeli policy towards such initiatives.
This is an ongoing project with Daphna Canetti and Yoel Mansfeld.