My Journey through East Jerusalem by Cat Zavis

Posted on Jul 20, 2018


Cat Zavis, executive director of the NSP, is spending the summer in Israel. Read below for her reflections on a recent political tour of East Jerusalem led by a Palestinian.


Jewish settlement in East Jerusalem.


Another intense and exhausting day. Went on a political tour of East Jerusalem. The guide told the story of the establishment of the State of Israel, the Nakba, and the current reality from her narrative as a Palestinian living in Palestine/Israel and it is not a pretty present day or past reality. And, in the telling of her narrative, there was no mention of the history of the Jewish people’s connection to and reality of living in this land prior to the 1900s.


I found myself struggling deeply – both recognizing her narrative and the reality of life in Palestine/Israel today and the continuing Nakba that is occurring today with the ongoing displacement of Palestinians from their land and economic, political, and social oppression and also deeply sad that her narrative (framed as colonial conquest) did not allow for the reality of Jewish history. There was no mention of the Holocaust (even during the discussion of Jewish immigration in 1947) or of any Palestinian acts of terror other than a brief mention about the 2nd intifada. This one-sided narrative is mirrored by the one-sided narrative by many Israelis on the Right and the Left. It all leaves me feeling extremely depressed – I held back tears throughout the 3-hour tour and continue to do so now. The reality of life on the ground for Palestinians, the deliberate and intentional cleansing of Palestinians from Jerusalem and expansion of Jerusalem and Israel, and the daily humiliations and oppression is horrific. And if neither side can open their hearts to the other, listen to and appreciate the other’s narrative, and ask: where do we go from here so both peoples can live with dignity and peace, instead of who is more at fault, we are in a lot of trouble.


Here we are in the day before the commemoration of Tisha B’Av when Jews mourn the destruction of the 1st and 2nd temples, and the exiling of our people first by Babylonian imperialism and then Roman imperialism. How deeply sad and ironic that thousands of years later, our historic reality and connection to this land is not acknowledged by Palestinians while at the same time we are now exiling Palestinians from their historic land.


“Separation” wall (yes, it has many different names) separating Palestinians from their lands, University, other Palestinians.

“Separation” wall (yes, it has many different names) separating Palestinians from their lands, University, other Palestinians.
Shabbat Shalom – may our future look more bright and may we remember that God seeks our participation and partnership in repairing these and many other broken pieces of the world.




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