Yahav Zohar

Yahav Zohar grew up in Jerusalem and has lived in the city all his life. Having traveled extensively around the world, he still insists that there is no other city like it. Ever since he can remember he has been wandering the streets of Jerusalem (often while he was supposed to be in school) fraternizing with the incredibly varied population and unique characters that fill its streets, finding out what lies behind the gates of austere monasteries and in the ancient burial caves that lie just beneath the surface of modern neighborhoods.

If you could just understand Jerusalem, he says, you would understand the world, but of course you never will. The complexities of the city will ultimately confound all the fundamentalists who try to lay exclusive claim to it. Under anything you see, there is something else that came before, and even that which you see is rarely what it seems.

Having worked as a falafel vendor, an organic produce marketer, a smuggler, a translator, a journalist and a human rights advocate he has again taken to wandering the streets of Jerusalem, this time as a tour guide, exploring its history as well as its present day society and politics.

Jerusalem is always surprising you, he says. It may be the only city in the world where holy sites are surrounded by armed guards who ask your religion before they let you pass, where native born people are treated as illegal immigrants while newcomers are granted automatic citizenship because of their grandparents' ethnicity.

In Jerusalem archeology, religion, ethnicity and politics are tied together in a complex web, holding hostage the day to day life of its population, but also ensuring livelihoods – for without its 'sanctity' Jerusalem would be a rather minor town the hills.

It is a pity, he says, that most tourists who come here get only one over-simplified side of the fascinating story that is Jerusalem. All too often, tour guides, whether in book or person form, are too much in the thrall of one or the other national narrative (or of a desperate attempt at neutrality) to communicate much of the real complexities of the city, and visitors are left with not much more than a postcard – beautiful, arbitrarily framed and two dimensional.

Over the past six years Yahav has been involved with several initiatives and organizations for Israeli-Palestinian cooperation, for non-violent political change, and sustainable political solution. At the same time he has studied the history, archeology and religions of Israel-Palestine, out of a growing interest in the power of national myths and real and imagined histories in motivating present day strife, and potentially in ending it. 

Yahav works with Green Olive both as Senior Guide, and in developing itineraries that combine the historical and religious sites with the social and political realities of the present day.

  • Banksy Tour to Bethlehem
    This tour will showcase surviving Bansky originals rendered on the Separation Wall that Israel built to restrict Palestinians from free movement around the West Bank and into Israel.
  • Gaza Border Tour
    See Gaza from up close, learn about the blockade & visit Erez crossing.
  • Galilee & Nazareth Tour
    Visit The Yardenit Baptism site & Roman Ruins, Explore life in the 40's by visiting a destroyed Palestinian village and meet Bedouin Communities.
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