PEACE IN THE CITY: The Case of Haifa s Baha'i Gardens, Israel

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1 First European Conference on Tourism and Peace October 21-24, 2008 PEACE IN THE CITY: The Case of Haifa s Baha'i Gardens, Israel Noga Collins-Kreiner Department of Geography and Environmental Studies, University of Haifa, Israel and Jay D. Gatrell Department of Geography, Geology, and Anthropology, Indiana State University, Terre Haute, IN, USA

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9 Historical Background The Baha'i Faith is a religion founded by Baha'u'llah in nineteenth-century Persia There are 5 to 7 million Baha'is around the world in more than 200 countries Baha'i teachings emphasize the spiritual oneness of humanity and the underlying unity of the major world religions The Baha'i religion was ranked as the world's second fastest growing religion- 1.7% growth rate Baha'is elect members to nine person Spiritual Assemblies, which run the affairs of the religion at local, regional and national levels

10 The Holy Space Baha'u'llah sanctified Mt. Carmel (Haifa) Holy sites established in Haifa and Acre

11 UNESCO declaration of a World Heritage Site The Baha'i Gardens From 1980 s- A massive expansion of building including: The Archives Universal House of Justice The International Teaching Centre Centre for the Study of Texts Opening of the Baha'i Gardens

12 Features of the Baha'i Gardens Light Greenery Structure (geometry) Esthetics Number (9 or 18 terraces) Length (1 km at a height of 340 meters)

13 Research Aims To examine the different uses of a pilgrimage-tourism shared space To create typologies of visitors and their visiting experiences in a shared space To identify the criteria leading to a winwin situation To suggest recommendations for future development of other sites

14 Theoretical Background The relationship between pilgrimage and tourism merit considerable attention in recent years Modern/secular Pilgrimage - visits to cultural sites, to graveyards, Dark Tourism, Spiritual Pilgrimage and more

15 Dilemmas The visitors & the religious organizations: pilgrims are not tourists as their motives are different The Tourism industry: Pilgrims are akin to tourists as they act similarly and use the local infrastructure As a result: planning and marketing dilemmas: How do you plan, develop and market a site with different meanings?

16 Methods Observations Participant Observations Interviews with: Visitors Baha'i volunteers Tour leaders Local Population Analyzing Internet diaries Newspaper Analysis

17 Findings ( A Love Story ) Excellent relationship of the Baha'i with the local government and the local population in the past 100 years No complaints toward the Baha'i religion, people or site A positive attitude of the local population toward the Baha'i

18 The Reasons Haifa is a secular and tolerant city Haifa is not important to any other religion The Baha'i do not live in Haifa The Baha'i do not conduct any missionary activity The gardens are appropriate to the city's structure, look and image Gradual development over years

19 Economic Benefits Economic contribution to the city (Investment of $250 million) A constant flow of tourists (estimations of 2.5 million tourists between June 2006 and January 2004) "Bringing honey to Haifa: Baha i pilgrims arrive as missile attacks begin (

20 A Tourism Anchor The gardens serve as a major tool of marketing and a major anchor for tourism development of Haifa The gardens became the city s symbol They are prominent features of the city s image

21 Final Criteria 1. Local community: attitudes of local communities to the site 2. Physical site characteristics: size, shape, visibility, scale and adaptation to the environment 3. Perceptions of the site and the religion it stands for 4. Location and importance: religious importance meanings, uniqueness sensitivity 5. Timing: local political timing, international timing, historical timing 6. Development: the rate establishment: gradual, rapid

22 Comparison between the Baha'i and the Mormon case in Jerusalem Criteria Secondary criteria Explanation Mormon Baha'i 1 Physical aspects of the site Size, Shape, Visibility, Scale- Adaptation to surrounding environment- Actual size, Actual shape Is it highly visible? Does it 'fit in'? A high building of unique design. It does not blend with its environment and is very visible There are landscaped Gardens and a few low buildings surrounding the shrine on the slopes of the hill, not dominating the view from its height point. 2 Perception of the site religion The Perceived Image How does the local population perceive the site? The image of the site including size, shape, scale visibility and adjustment Mormon religion and the site are perceived as transgressive missionary and intrusive Harmonic, cooperative and non- missionary image is perceived of both the Baha'i religion and site. Also a tourist site image. 3 Location and Importance of the site Religious Importance- Meaning- Uniqueness- Sensitivity- How important is the location to each group because of current and historical events Most important; together with the symbolism and meaning of Jerusalem to the Jewish state, religion and people and to other religions No importance; Haifa carries no meaning or symbolism to the Jewish state. Not meaningful to other religions or sects 4 Outer Space/ Local communities and attitudes Homogeneity and Unity of Local communities Local citizenry's homogeneity. Ability to 'contain' people of other religions. Intrinsic unity of these communities Conflictual population. Constant friction between the different Christian denominations, between secular and orthodox Jewry Homogeneous secular community with a demonstrated ability of toleration and integration. 5 Timing Local Political Timing- International Timing- Historical Timing- The appropriate time from the local political stand point. Continuous ongoing conflicts viz a viz control in Jerusalem Appropriate political timing. Consensus of opinion in Haifa 6 Development Speed and Progress- A Tourism Aspect The speed of the process and progress? Was it gradual? Was there a tourism aspect? Rapid, Not gradual. Only first suggested in 1979 to build a center. Not touristic Very gradual, step by step process. Acquisition of land and property began in A tourism site

23 The Visitor Experience The Visitor Content Time Space

24 The secular tourist (A structured tour) CONTENT History, Esthetics, technology Non Baha'i leaders A secular narrative Emphasize on the settings Non religious tour TIME Limited time ( minutes) Visiting hours Shrine visiting hours: SPACE Descending the steps Limited Entrance Pre-ordering by phone Giving identifying details Identification at entrance A tour from A to B One tour per day Does not include entry to the shrine and the religious buildings Precise route

25 The Pilgrim: (Part of a spiritual experience) Time Content Unlimited A religious visit Part of a pilgrimage Religious prayers and of 9 days customs Including a visit in the Encirclement of the gardens & buildings shrine Free days Formal activities A spiritual, religious and ritual experience Space The whole space Ascending or descending Entrance to the different buildings A special importance to terrace #10

26 Differentiation between Pilgrimage and Tourism Two different experiences at the site in time, space and content Two Senses of a Place

27 Matching of Two Narratives The Baha'i succeeded because of their social-spatial planning and by emphasizing the gardens secularity A matching between the esthetic narrative of the Baha'i (not the religious one) and the secular-touristic narrative of the city This emphasis made it easy for the city to adopt the Baha i as the city s symbol and as means for tourism development

28 Summary A layered visiting experience which preserves the religious nature of the site but allows the local population to reap secular rewards An existence of a shared space with a differentiation in content, time and space of the experience These practices transform the holy site into a secular shared community asset and thus helps to bridge between the different players of the tourism system and to bring peace into the city

29 Advantages & Contribution This differentiation prevents conflicts: Between the visitors (tourists, pilgrims) Between the Baha'i and the local population Between the Baha'i and the local municipality A win-win situation Suggesting recommendations for future development of other religious/secular sites

30 Thank You! (See you at the Baha'i Gardens )

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