There's Something Rotten in Akko (and It's Not the Falafel)

Our Man in Israel Follows His Nose to the Old City

getty images

By Tuvia Tenenbom

Published May 18, 2014, issue of May 23, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

Akko’s Old City, many people told me, is one of the most beautiful places on the planet, but I never found the time to go there. At least not until today, when I decided that it’s time I finally heed their advice.

I don’t know anybody in Akko — Old City or New — which means that I must find a hotel. I try booking a room but my choices are very limited. To be more exact, there’s only one available room in the whole of Akko’s Old City, in a place called Akko Gate Hostel.

It doesn’t occur to me that there might be a reason why this particular place is the only place with available rooms, and I immediately book the room.

Only when I enter my room after a long ride do I realize my mistake. The room stinks, it’s very small, and nothing in it works. Everything I touch makes a sound as if it is just about to break apart.

Yet, I must admit, this Akko Gate Hostel has something very appealing — Waled, the owner of the place. Waled is funny, welcoming, and if he likes you he will give you great coffee for free.

Many of his family members, he tells me as I sip his sweet-bitter coffee, don’t live in Akko anymore. They moved to Berlin, Frankfurt and Amsterdam. Why? “Before 1948, the Jews were dispersed all over the world, but now it’s us.”

How come?

“The Jews push us out of our land.”

How do the Jews do it?

Simple. Years back, Waled tells me, Israel came up with a genius plan. They offered the Jews living in Akko’s Old City new houses in the New City, but they kept the Arabs in the Old City, leaving them with a broken sewage system and rats. As a result, the Arabs left Akko and moved to Germany and Holland.

If the Arabs and the Jews left, I wonder, who is living in Akko’s Old City these days?

I say goodbye and go out to check.

Walking the streets of the Old City, I hear Arabic, German, English and some Hebrew. But most of all, I hear Arabic. Did the Arabs come back from Frankfurt without telling Waled? Perhaps I should run to Akko Gate Hostel and tell Waled that his family is back.

Alone Among Arabs and Tourists: The proprietor of the Akko Gate Hostel stands behind Tuvia Tenenbom (center) and guests.
Isi Tenenbom
Alone Among Arabs and Tourists: The proprietor of the Akko Gate Hostel stands behind Tuvia Tenenbom (center) and guests.

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • What do you think of Wonder Woman's new look?
  • "She said that Ruven Barkan, a Conservative rabbi, came into her classroom, closed the door and turned out the lights. He asked the class of fourth graders to lie on the floor and relax their bodies. Then, he asked them to pray for abused children." Read Paul Berger's compelling story about a #Savannah community in turmoil:
  • “Everything around me turns orange, then a second of silence, then a bomb goes off!" First installment of Walid Abuzaid’s account of the war in #Gaza:
  • Is boredom un-Jewish?
  • Let's face it: there's really only one Katz's Delicatessen.
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • Are Michelangelo's paintings anti-Semitic? Meet the Jews of the Sistine Chapel: http://jd.fo/i4UDl
  • What does the Israel-Hamas war look like through Haredi eyes?
  • Was Israel really shocked to find there are networks of tunnels under Gaza?
  • “Going to Berlin, I had a sense of something waiting there for me. I was searching for something and felt I could unlock it by walking the streets where my grandfather walked and where my father grew up.”
  • How can 3 contradictory theories of Yiddish co-exist? Share this with Yiddish lovers!
  • "We must answer truthfully: Has a drop of all this bloodshed really helped bring us to a better place?”
  • "There are two roads. We have repeatedly taken the one more traveled, and that has made all the difference." Dahlia Scheindlin looks at the roots of Israel's conflict with Gaza.
  • Shalom, Cooperstown! Cooperstown Jewish mayor Jeff Katz and Jeff Idelson, director of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, work together to oversee induction weekend.
  • A boost for morale, if not morals.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.