I finally got round to reading all of Tuvia Tenebom's book last week having had it for a few months and only previously read a few extracts. The book exposes the total corruption and lies of the multiple NGOs (non Government Organisations) and charities who operate in Israel/Palestine and who are massively funded by foreign governments (especially the EU) to deligitimize Israel, and organise Palestinian 'resistance' and propaganda.
Even for a seasoned 'activist' like myself (who has dedicated much time to investigating and exposing the anti-Zionism of the Western narrative and media, anti-Semitism of Palestinians, and who spends a lot of time in Israel), the overall message of the book was shocking and deeply depressing. It shows on the one hand that the irrational antisemitism that underpins the universal anti-Zionist narrative is even more deeply rooted than I feared; and on the other hand that most Israelis are even more oblivious of this than I suspected.
I think this is one of the most important - and in many ways brilliant - books I have read. Crucially, the reviews and extracts I had read did not do the book justice and in many respects were quite misleading. For a start, the popular narrative that Tuvia is a right-wing Zionist is itself a lie. This lie is promoted by those (including many who call themselves Zionists**) who are uncomfortable when their liberal ideas are blown apart by facts, especially when the person who reveals those facts is a Jew using unconventional methods. Rather than confronting the evidence that Tuvia presents (and it really is more clear-cut and damning than most of what you will have seen elsewhere) critics fall back on the 'right-wing Zionist' (or even 'racist') slur to discredit the fact finder and close down the debate (take a look, for example, at this review of the book in Tablet Magazine). In fact, Tuvia is not a 'rightest' in any normal sense of the word and nor, it seems, a Zionist. Some of his harshest criticism is reserved for ultra-orthodox Jews and 'right wing extremists'. The fact that he refers to the Israeli Labour party as 'centrist' indicates that he is naturally a man of the left. Indeed, both Netanyahu and Lieberman refused interviews with him since (in Tuvia's words) "both their teams have concluded that I am a leftist troublemaker" and his Bohemian lifestyle puts him socially in the extreme liberal category.
But his 6 months in Israel clearly make Tuvia realise that most of the 'left' are the opposite of the liberal intelligentsia that they claim to be. They are intolerant, shallow and hypocritical; the Jews among them are among the most self-hating, while the non-Jews (of the European and other NGOs) are driven by antisemitism. These activists ignore the most brutal behaviour of Arabs while spending their entire lives looking for Jews in Israel who 'misbehave'. Their objective is to use evidence of such misbehaviour (no matter how trivial and contrived - indeed it is normally set up by the activists themselves) as 'proof' that Jews do not deserve to have their own country. It's as simple as that. Hence the book's title "Catch a Jew". These people are determined to make most of Israel 'Judenfrei'.
Readers of my blog will know that that I have spent a lot of time exposing the antisemitism behind some of the most popular and respected NGO's and charities. However, even I was shocked by the extent to which supposedly 'humanitarian' organisations like the International Red Cross and Medecin Sans Frontiers are actually just political anti-Zionist machines. And the depravity and lies of Israeli NGOs like B'Tselem are also at a level far worse than I ever imagined or reported (and remember B'Tselem are Yachad's main Israel partner).
By being able to cast himself as a different character, depending on who he was meeting, Tenenbom discovered what people really understand and believe. Hence, he exposes a level of antisemitism in supposedly moderate and highly educated Arabs, that almost all Israelis (and certainly the entire Israel media) refuse to acknowledge or accept. But it is what he discovers about 'leftist' Israelis and the NGO activists that is most revealing. For example, Haaretz writer Gideon Levy - man who has dedicated his life to the Palestinian cause and who can find no good Zionist Jew and no bad Palestinian - is a liar who speaks no Arabic and does not have a single Palestinian friend. In fact Tuvia finds that many Israeli leftists love the Arabs far more than they love the Jews, but do not actually have any Palestinian friends. Their love of Palestinian Arabs is based on a purely theoretical view of what the Palestinians are and what they want. The leftists want - and believe - that the Palestinians are like them and that they yearn for peace and mutual respect. The reality that Tuvia finds everywhere is that, when speaking among themselves (as opposed to their NGO friends and Jews) the Palestinians actually yearn for a Jew-free state encompassing the whole of Israel. And the NGOs have brainwashed their followers to believe that this is the only ethical solution also.
One especially poignant passage is this one:
This is an attitude I have discovered myself in many conversations with Israelis (especially in Tel Aviv) and my British friends find it very hard to believe. For example, after the massacre of the Fogel family in Itamar in 2011 several Israelis told me that they not only felt no sympathy for the Fogel family 'because they chose to live in the occupied territories' but also felt the act was justified as the 'Itamar settlement was a humiliation' for the Palestinians.I meet a very nice couple, both widely known, highly educated, highly intellectual, exemplary self-haters, optimal Arab lovers, and they touch me deeply. They are Israeli Jews and I won’t identify them, what they do, or in what part of the town they reside. They tell me three interesting stories.(1) They live in a beautiful home, which was renovated for them by an Arab contractor whom they knew and blindly trusted. When the contractor was about done with his work, for which he was handsomely paid, he presented them with a wonderful gift, for which he did not want to get paid: a big olive tree that he planted in their garden. They were very touched by his gesture and thanked him profusely. He listened to their thanks, looked them straight in the eye and said: “You don’t have to thank me. I didn’t do it for you, I did it for myself and my family.” They did not understand what he was saying, and he explained: “Soon you will move out of this house.” How so? “Because soon this land will be free of Jews.” They were devastated. How could he say such a thing to them(2) Years ago, many years ago, the lady was gang- raped by a bunch of Arab youth.(3) Years later, their granddaughter was sexually abused by an old Arab friend.These three stories are the total sum of their personal experience with Palestinians, yet they won’t allow themselves to be affected by any of these incidents. The man explains to me: “I believe in humanism, I believe that the Palestinians are good people and that they want to live with us in peace. I believe that we have done them wrong and I believe that they have not done us wrong. It doesn’t matter to me if what I believe in is factually right. I know it’s not, but I don’t care about facts! I want to believe, even if everything I believe in is false.
Other parts of the book also provide extensive evidence of things I have suspected and written about. For example:
- I have long moaned about the anti-Zionist bias of Israeli films. Tuvia discovers that almost every Israeli non-fiction film is funded by external NGOs under condition that they support the anti-Zionist narrative. So basically if you want to make a film and do not have your own funding, your only option is to make an anti-Zionist one. But, because of the leftist domination of academia and the arts, almost all Israel government arts funding also goes to film-makers and artists who promote an anti-Zionist narrative.
- While I have reported on the anti-Zionist activities of the foreign funded NGOs I was unaware of just how many there are, how well funded they are, and the extent to which they are changing facts and behaviour. For example, it is the NGOs who have created the 'Bedouin' crisis that threatens to disrupt the entire Negev and its future development. The NGOs have even brainwashed the Bedouins into regarding themselves as 'Palestinian Arabs' (something they never considered themselves to be 20 years ago). Elsewhere the NGO activists scour the land looking for anything to photograph and video that can cast Jews in a bad light. Most of the time the incidents they report were actually set up by the activists themselves (including helping Arabs attack Jews). They also bribe Arabs to invent 'crimes' committed by Jews.
- The International Red Cross - which exerts enormous power and influence in Israel (Tuvia reports on how IDF soldiers and Police cower when confronted by ICRC people) - is run by an unelected group of Swiss nationals (no other nationals are allowed) and this antisemitic group gets decide what constitutes international law. It is they who decided that, of all the many disputed territories in the world (including China's occupation of Tibet and Turkey's occupation of Northern Cyprus) only Israel's 'occupation' is illegal.
- The contrast between the media's narrative about the relative prosperity and freedom of Jews and Arabs and the reality (such as in Hebron where the Jews are ghettoised with no freedom of movement, and forbidden from any type of building work on their homes, while their Arab neighbours have no such restrictions; and the many Palestinian mansions all over the 'West Bank').
**The fact that the organisers of the Limmud conference actually cancelled Tuvia's invitation to speak on its panel session, exposes Limmud as being completely worthless.
***The Amazon cover page for the book says:
This book recounts the adventures of Tuvia Tenenbom, who wanders around Israel of our time calling himself "Tobi the German". In the course of numerous interviews Tuvia extracts information, sentiments, hidden theories and delusional visions motivating the miscellany of peoples forming the present-day Holy Land. Does Palestinian wife number one hate the Jews more than she hates wife number two? Who does a young German tourist hate more, her dead Nazi grandpa or the just-born Jewish baby? Who finances cash-rich NGOs pursuing a Judenrein Israel? Who sets Palestinian olive groves on fire and why? What do you see from a Piper Cherokee above a Bedu camp? Who are the flaming feminists who sacrifice their lives for the rights of polygamists? Whose land is this, anyway? In the course of his seven-months journey Tobi the German discovers Syrian flags growing inside apples, she-asses who used to be men, five-star refugee camps, flying prophets, cash-loving guardians of the poor, masturbating monks in eternal love of Palestinians, human rights activists in eternal hatred of Jews, cash-rich rabbis without congregations, families growing in cemeteries -- among many others. Catch the Jew!, the most humorous composition on the Middle East to date, is a polyglot spin around a cultural miscegenation in a very small space. However, it is never-daunted author finds that with labneh, strudel, olive oil, apple pie, kebab, rugelach, hummus and schnitzel, a happy tummy can bear us through even the most appalling matters. Except the conclusion.