Arab reading newspaper, Old City, Jerusalem
Arab reading newspaper, Old City, JerusalemFlash 90
The following I believe is an ienlightening glimpse into the Arab Israeli psyche and mind these days as Arab violence against Jews has reached a level reminiscent of the riots before the establishment of the State of Israel.

For a few months now, I have been learning Arabic with a private tutor.

She responded to an ad I placed in the Israeli university in which she studies.

She is studying social work and also has a good job in an Israeli communications company.

She is fluent in Arabic, Hebrew and English.

We have had very good rapport.

The following is our last communication via WhatsApp:

She: how are you?

Me: Good but I am distressed by the violence

She. Me too. I hope it will end soon.

Me; Do you have any insights about the violence within Arab society? Is it this way in other Arab countries?

She: I don't think so because in other Arab countries there is a government that stands to protect the Arab but unfortunately in Israel, they are always against us...The violence in Arab society came as a response to all the repression that the police and the Zionists. In Sheik Jarrah they take their homes without any special reason to.

Me: I see that we have lots to talk about if we are to understand each other. I follow events very closely and keep a diary for over thirty years. The true facts about the conflict don't escape me. Many people are brainwashed and don't want to learn facts. They are comfortable with their narrative. Why do Arab’s harm Arabs so often? Where I live, I don't often see police yet we don't harm and kill each other.

She; You are asking a very wide question and I can't give you a full answer. Listening or reading facts are nothing like living them. As an Arabic Muslim girl who lived here since forever, I can assure you this state(sic) situation has nothing to do with Arab’s violence but more of its police violence and apartheid system.

And I totally understand your point of view since you are Jewish and want to protect your people but the only fact that I see is that no one in this country gives us minimalist rights. If it's to pretend or even to live (?). I feel so sorry for the people in Gaza, the children who lost their parents and to the people in Sheik Jarrah being arrested, killed and beaten to go away from their own home.

Me: Let me tell you a story about when I was a rookie tour guide. I was guiding on a bus with an Arab driver named Ahmed. As we passed Tzipori, the tourist site of an ancient Jewish town, he said today there are Jews who live where my family lived until the Zionists threw us out in 1948.

I asked him where he lives today. He said Nazareth. I asked him if he had a house, a good job, schooling and health care for his children? Yes, he said. I said, if your side would have won the war, they began in 1948, we Jews would not have a house, job, school or health care. We would all be dead. Ahmed, be thankful I told him.

She: I'm sorry but I have to say that this is so rude Shalom! You can’t steal a whole life from somebody , his childhood, his everything and after so many years this someone finally has a home and family and he has to say thank you!? Do you think getting another home is easy? Do you think that being immigrated(sic) is a simple thing or what...? Are YOU ready to thank someone who stole your home because you got another home and job after that?

Me: No one stole his home. Ziporri was a hostile village used to attack and kill Jews. There were battles and people were dislocated.

The Arabs started the battle, The Jews did not want it. The Arabs tried to kill all the Jews as they said they would. They tried and failed. Instead of kicking him out of the country or killing him, although he was an enemy in a war, he was allowed to stay and prosper.

Ten million Germans were kicked out of their homes after the war. They don't complain or carry out acts of terror and revenge against their former countries, They understand that they launched a war, they lost and there is a price for that. They are glad to be alive.

She: You think that the Arabs are frustrated though they have a beautiful life in a perfect country to live in. So let me tell you how it looks. You just look from one side. Thanks to the whole world that is looking now from the Palestinian side, they are seeing that this perfect country is not as perfect as it seems. I don't mean the way it looks but in the way it looks at the Arabs like we are the enemy. We didn’t start everything in 1947 - 8. Most of the Arabs migrated from their land and that's how we got to be two sides. Palestinians and Zionists.

Me: Actually, the Arabs did start everything in 1947 - 8. If you know the history, you know that. Israel, the Jews tried everything to try and stop the bloodshed. They agreed to every compromise and the Arabs said no way. The history is very clear. It's very easy to access the facts. Had the Arabs won that war as they declared, we Jews would all be dead. That is the difference. The Arabs that stayed became citizens.They are the only free [Arab] citizens in the Mid-East. They can work and study freely like you. No one bothers you I assume. What exactly are you deprived of? What is your complaint? I don't understand.

She; In 1947-8 the Arabs were forced to leave their homes. I don't have to say thank you for working and studying. The country did not do it for me. I worked for it. And besides, I am concerned for other Arabs who are not as fortunate as me and live-in conditions where they are not respected. You don't have to only rely upon the history that you know. Look at what is happening today. Arabs are being forced out of their homes in Sheik Jarrah. The whole world stands with the Arabs in Sheik Jarrah because that is the truth.

Me; The fact that the whole world says one thing doesn't mean it is correct. The whole world stood by while they killed six million Jews and did nothing about it. That doesn't mean that it was right. In 1947 - 8 it was the Arabs who decided to kill all the Jews. Thankfully they failed. Some Arabs fled their homes in fear, some were told by their leaders to leave and return to take Jewish property after the Arab armies killed all the Jews, some were expelled by Israeli forces.

As far as Sheik Jarrah goes, Jews bought that land and lived in the homes for decades before they were kicked out by Jordanian [occupation] in1948. Their homes were then given to Arabs [to live in] by Jordan [but ownership was not]. After 1967 the Jews demanded their homes back.

After a very long legal process they are finally able to return and the illegal residents [who refused to pay rent as well] must now finally leave.

She; I can see that a huge part of this narrative is wrong and let's say it is true, no one is given the right to kill poor people and to protect others just for their religion. You lived so many years thinking that it's all Arab's fault and I'll not convince you of another, because you'll not be convinced,

(She then sent me a quote from Noam Chomsky claiming that Israel is the moral criminal in the conflict.)

Me: I am open to learning and hearing facts that I am not aware of. I am not an expert in many things but in this I am well versed and always ready to hear other opinions as long as it is based on fact. (she may have thought that Professor Chomsky was just an honest Jewish thinker who tells it like it is.)

Me: I am very aware of Noam Chomsky and that he is the most notorious anti-Israel self-hater. He is very famous for this.

I am aware of it all and I know the truth. I fear that you have not looked wide enough. You speak in slogans and cartoons. That is not fact or history.

Why don't you ask the professors at school? They may teach you facts that you can trust.

She: This is fact and this is history. If you are not convinced you can see all the events that are happening this last week because Palestinians are being killed for just protecting another.(?) Listen, I just don't want to continue this conversation for one reason. It is because you lived so many years and you are convinced of these facts and can't change it in a one-hour conversation. You will always stand with your people and so will I. I prefer not to continue this conversation because we are not arriving at a point.

Me; Yes, I have encountered this many times. It is very sad, actually leaves me doubtful this will ever end..

Note: I have ended my Arabic lessons.There are none so blind as those who will not see.

Shalom Pollack is a tour guide, filmmaker and writer in Jerusalem. He is writing a book: " Despite ourselves, a personal account" [email protected]