The Bedouin Zionist Who Keeps Israel Safe

Meeting Proud Muslim Nomad Who Guards Israel's Border

Taking Aim at a Stereotype: Tuvia Tenenbom poses with his interview subject’s assault rifle.
Isi Tenenbom
Taking Aim at a Stereotype: Tuvia Tenenbom poses with his interview subject’s assault rifle.

By Tuvia Tenenbom

Published March 19, 2014, issue of March 21, 2014.
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Next to us I see a black structure that resembles a map of Palestine, covered with paper-printed pictures of different people, probably shahids (martyrs), and below them is a message written in awfully bad Hebrew: “Sure we return.”

I ask Magdi if he would mind lending me his assault rifle, just for a little bit. I want to know if Magdi trusts me, and how much.

Magdi, the chief of the Suspicious People, hands me his rifle — with the bullets in it.

This is against the rules, and every soldier knows it. But Magdi has no rules — except his trust or suspicion.

To complete my little game I put his hat on my head. Then I hold his rifle, pointing it in whichever direction, and Magdi looks at me, smiling.

Magdi, you see, doesn’t need NGO activists to translate him. His smile is the biggest translator I have ever seen.

I hand him back his rifle and his hat but keep the rosary tight in my pocket. If I ever doubt that Arabs and Jews can live together, the rosary will be there to assure me.

Tuvia Tenenbom, author of “I Sleep in Hitler’s Room” is working on his next book “Alone Among Jews.”


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