The Christian Science Monitor

Israel at 70: A tale of two histories

Israeli tour guide Yuval Ben-Ami and Palestinian tour guide Husan Jubran speak to a group about the 1948 Arab-Israeli War and its aftermath during a stop in Ein Karem, a Jewish neighborhood of Jerusalem that was once a Palestinian village. Source: Dina Kraft

Tumbling off their bus and into the glaring afternoon sun in the West Bank town of Ramallah, the US tourists assemble before Yasser Arafat’s marble tomb and hear two vastly different takes on the former Palestinian leader.

Standing to the left of the tomb, Husam Jubran, their Palestinian guide, describes who Mr. Arafat was for Palestinians: a charismatic freedom fighter who put their cause on the map and spent his final years under Israeli siege in a bunker beneath his government’s headquarters, some 100 yards from where the tourists are standing.

He also tells them most Palestinians still believe Arafat was secretly assassinated by Israel in 2004, not felled, as his doctors said, by a blood disorder. “They believe he died a martyr, killed by the Israelis, and hear stories that at the time Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon asked US President George W. Bush for the green light to kill Arafat,” Mr. Jubran says.

A few breaths later, still absorbing those jarring words, they turn their heads to the right to listen to Yuval Ben-Ami, their Israeli guide, who tells them, “Israelis have an image of Arafat as a terrorist and a corrupt person.”

He then walks them through the early

The guides' own storiesBus ride to Yad VashemIn Ein Karem, stories of 1948Point, counterpoint

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