Transcending Familiar Narratives

Heart of a Nation
2 min readMar 21, 2022

Aziz Abu Sarah of Mejdi Tours — and Founding Committee Member of Heart of a Nation — Profiled in New York Times

“I used to live in Washington, D.C., which is a very segregated city, especially on a class level, and I realized that my friends and I wouldn’t venture out of the neighborhoods we already knew. So we started to develop a tour of the city, and we got a Republican and a Democrat to co-lead it.”

“By the end of it, the discussion was about ‘What’s the solution?’ rather than ‘You’re doing this wrong or that wrong.’ It was fascinating. And that’s what happens on our tours in Israel and Palestine.”

“I only knew one narrative of Israel, and many Israelis probably only know one narrative of Palestinians: the one they hear in the news.”

“A defining feature of the tour company they founded in 2009 is the ‘dual narrative’ tour, in which a group of tourists is led by two guides: one from either side of a longstanding conflict or division that has affected the area that the group is visiting.”

“With our tours, we thought: ‘No more single story. No more single narrative.’ We decided to start in Jerusalem, Palestine and Israel, because Scott is Jewish and I’m Palestinian, and that’s the area we knew the best. And what we’ve seen is that the dual narrative is so powerful because it gives you the opportunity to hear different opinions, but also to understand the people you meet, to understand their fear and their anger, and to really fall in love with the place you’re visiting.”

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