The Alternative Tourism Group (ATG) was established in 1994 in Beit Sahur (near Bethlehem) by Ghassan Andoni, a Christian Palestinian physics lecturer. ATG specializes in giving tours that “allow the Palestinians to present their own views and culture” to visitors from abroad. Portraying Palestinians as victims of unyielding Israeli oppression and brutality, ATG says: “Since the start of the second Intifada, the three million inhabitants of the Occupied Territories have been attacked, imprisoned, impoverished and traumatized — all for the ‘crime’ of aspiring to independence. They remain undeterred in their resolve to achieve a just peace, but they cannot withstand Israel’s devastating military attacks and its cruel war of attrition forever.”
ATG exhorts the world “[to recognize the] cruel realities of occupation, to learn the issues underlying the [Israeli-Palestinian] conflict, to monitor and publicize Israeli actions against the Palestinian civilian population, to engage in solidarity actions, and to help mobilize international public opinion.”
Among the assigned duties of ATG tourists is to greet and aid International Solidarity Movement (ISM) volunteers who come to Israel to disrupt the anti-terrorism activities of the Israeli Defense Force.
ATG offers its tour group members opportunities to stay overnight in the homes of local indigenous Christians; to do volunteer work for some Palestinian NGOs; to meet with Palestinian and Israeli private citizens, political representatives, and clergymen; to hike in the desert and thereby gain “insights to the meaning of the desert in the Biblical stories and for the early church”; to attend lectures on the nature and history of the Arab-Israeli conflict; to visit Jewish settlements and Palestinian Refugee camps; and to visit such places as Hebron, Ramallah, Taiba, Nablus, Jericho, Gaza, Bethlehem, Tel Aviv, Tiberias, Galilee, and Jerusalem.