Monday, August 22, 2011

Ordinary racism in Israel

I was arrested for hiring a Palestinian tour guide
After the police ineptitude and harassment experienced today, it is clear that in certain situations, Palestinians are simply guilty until proven innocent

Last week my tour company, MEJDI, received a tour group from Washington DC. The group members are all part of the same Jewish congregation, and are here on a trip lead by their rabbi, who was inspired by our narratives-based approach to tourism. This morning we took the tour group to the Mount of Olives for a view of the Old City of Jerusalem, and spoke to them about the political and religious narratives of the city. While the tourists were wandering around and taking pictures, a policeman with another woman in civilian clothing approached our Palestinian tour guide, asked for his identity card and tourism license, and arrested him.

Each of our groups has two guides, one Palestinian and one Israeli. Almost all of our Palestinian guides come from East Jerusalem, because of the severe shortage of permits for Palestinian guides based in the West Bank. This guide, who for security reasons will be called “HJ,” is a resident of Bethlehem, and is the first West Bank guide we hired to lead our groups in Israel, in tandem with an Israeli Jewish guide.
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