Many of the 3.5 million incoming tourists visiting Israel unexpectedly fall into the hands of Arab tour guides from the Palestinian Authority (P.A.) and hear only a one-sided narrative. This can happen when the charter deal was sold to them by an East Jerusalem agency or if they contact a random tour guide recommended by a hotel in East Jerusalem. Often groups change guides when entering the Palestine Authority to visit Bethlehem. These Palestinian tour guides may range from unlicensed, non-professional to out-right anti-Israeli. I myself met a couple from South Korea, driven to Masada from East Jerusalem. There “tour guide” said no more than, “This is a nice mountain with a cable car ride. I will meet you in the souvenir shop after the ride.” At that point my wife launched into a spirited discussion with this couple over a cup of coffee and explained to them about the zealots, the Romans, the siege, the battle and the mass-suicide. The South Korean couple was so thankful for the explanation. This is not just an incident. This happens over and over throughout the country. Beware!
Many groups from Europe and South America miss the opportunity to meet a real Israeli. Unfortunately they do not have a licensed, Israel tour guide to equally present all points of view. Some tour agencies have the anti-Semitic “chutzpa” to request that the local guide be neither Jewish nor Zionist. This is a “War of Narrative”. To be fair there are a Palestinian tour guides that believe in “dual narrative tourism”. I wish there were more. Perhaps we need more communication between tour guides from both sides of the “Green Line”.
Israeli tour guides must study two years, pass stringent examinations and successfully complete internship. Following the Oslo Agreements a certain amount of Palestinian tour guides were licensed by Israel. These Palestinian guides were allowed to cross into Israel and continue guiding their groups while Israeli tour guides have limited access to cross over into the Palestinian Authority and there is also the problem of Arab terrorism a