By the time you leave the Yad Vashem - You saw Jews being killed but you think you saw Palestinians being killed by Jews.
Come to Jerusalem with wildlife guide Itamar Shapira and see "Skunks" and "Monster Creatures"
I take the next bus. Today I’m going to join an Israeli tour guide and a bunch of Italian teenagers, on an educational trip arranged by an Italian institution in Milano.
We meet at Damascus Gate/Bab al-Amud/Shaar Shkhem, and we are heading to an “Arab village destroyed by the Jews in 1948.” Good.
Itamar Shapira, the guide hired by the Italians, will be leading the tour.
“Welcome to Israel, Palestine,” he greets us on the bus, belonging to an Arab company and driven by an Arab. Itamar is the only Jew here.
We are going to be treated today to a research tour that will teach us about Israeli occupation and annexation of Arab lands in Israel, Palestine.
“Jerusalem has 900,000 residents: 36 percent Arab, 20 percent ultra-Orthodox, 10 percent secular, who are the Israeli elite of European background, and the rest are the monster creatures, the settlers.” So says Itamar, as the bus is moving to its destination. A police van is driving by us, and Itamar explains: “This is the ‘skunk,’ a vehicle used by the police to disperse demonstrators.” The impression we all get, and I guess this is what Itamar is driving at: Israel is a police state.
We keep moving, until we reach our first destination, at the main entrance of Jerusalem. The “village,” a bunch of deserted houses called Lifta. We get off and start walking down the hill. Itamar spots a shaded area and we pause our walk for a short lecture by him. The Jews “seized this village in 1952,” after passing a new law, when they also seized “92–94 percent of the rest of Israel,” within what’s called the Green Line. It is via this law, he adds, that the “Jews expropriated Arab-owned lands all over.”
The young Italians stand or sit around Itamar and listen. They take pictures, some write down everything he says, and all are intimately involved, as if this piece of land belonged to their grandparents. They look at the deserted structures of the old houses, as one would look at his or her childhood favorite place, and they are pissed off that grandpa and grandma ain’t here anymore. No human walking by and observing them would in a million years guess that these kids landed at Ben-Gurion Airport only yesterday, and that for the first time.
Itamar has maps that he uses to teach us history, and he loves to talk about “Jews.” How many Jews are there in the world? One asks. Itamar says this is hard to tell. “Some say there are fifty-five million Jews in the world, some say twenty million, others say twelve million.”
Is he Jewish?
“I don’t consider myself Jewish, I consider myself an ex-Jew.”
They laugh. And then one asks: Can Christians become citizens of Israel?
“You can convert to Judaism, become a Jew and become a citizen. But I wouldn’t advise you to become a Jew.”
The Italians now laugh louder.
In Catch the Jew! (Gefen, 2015) Tuvia Tenenbom uses humor and charm to explore life in Israel and Palestine. In the course of his research he uncovers an international agenda to find fault with Jews and Israel. These people have one goal; to Catch the Jew doing something wrong! To order "Catch the Jew!" click here.