Recent Press Articles

From the Common Ground Blog

Holy sites, under attack
Israel Hayom
Click here for article
10 November 2013

Clerics work to stop attacks on religious sites in Jerusalem
The Jerusalem Post
Click here for article
6 November 2013

Efforts to Stop Attacks on Religious Sites in Jerusalem
The Media Line
Click here for article
5 November 2013

Grave Situation, as Youth Vandalism Rises in Jerusalem
The Media Line
Click here for article
10 October 2013

Israeli-Palestinian Film Broadcast Simultaneously on Channel 2 and Ma’an
The Media Line
Jerusalem Post
Click here for article
2 October 2013

Delegate Interview: Suheir Rasul
Women in Public Service Project - Bryn Mawr College
Click here for article
1 July 2013

Resistance through reality TV? Young Palestinians battle to become 'President'
Click here for article
6 May 2013

Foreign Dispatch: Palestine’s Presidential Idol
Fox News Radio
Click here for article
29 April 2013

Palestinians compete to become 'President' on new reality show
Washington Post
Click here for article
17 April 2013

Palestinian Reality Show: The President
Politiken (Copenhagen)
Click here for article in Danish | English Translation
26 March 2013



The SFCG Jerusalem Office was established in 2000 and conducts  multi-faceted activities promoting positive relations among Palestinians, Israelis, and Arabs. With joint Israeli-Palestinian leadership, the office’s vision is one of all people living together peacefully in the Middle East. We promote interfaith dialogue and development in the fields of media, health, and leadership.

Media Projects

Under The Same Sun

from Under The Same Sun from Under The Same Sun from Under The Same Sun

SFCG Jerusalem has recently co-produced Under the Same Sun with Amir Harel of Lama Productions, a feature length docu-drama for local and international audiences. Directed by Sameh Zoabi, the film follows two businessmen – one Palestinian and one Israeli – as they struggle, with surprising and dramatic results, to build a joint business venture in the face of political, cultural, and family opposition.

Under the Same Sun seeks to humanize the “other” for both Israeli and Palestinian audiences, and aims to dispel the belief held by many that there is no partner on the other side.  Ultimately, it is grounded in the idea that for meaningful peace negotiations to resume, the two publics need a vision worth striving for. The docu-drama stems from our 2005 CGP four-part documentary, Shape of the Future, broadcast on Israeli and Arab TV, which focused on the final status issues which, if solved, could lead to an Arab/Israeli peace agreement

The film was recently broadcast simultaneously on October 2nd 2013 on Israel’s most popular TV Channel 2 and the independent Palestinian Ma’an satellite station. In the coming months, it will be screened at festivals and to audiences in the US and Europe.  Under the Same Sun was funded by the European Union and the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office.

Ali Suliman and Yossi Marshak, the stars of Under the Same Sun, visit the SFCG Jerusalem office.
Ali Suliman and Yossi Marshak, the stars of Under the Same Sun, visit the SFCG Jerusalem office.


Strengthening Palestinian Citizen Participation and Democracy

A two-year grant from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs is enabling us to partner with the Ma’an Network, based in Bethlehem, to provide additional Palestinian television and radio programming and to organize a series of public town hall meetings.  These initiatives will highlight the needs of Palestinians and help build their society by engaging the public with local authorities on critical social issues.

The President

The President

As part of this multi-platform project, the Ma’an network and SFCG have recently produced a reality series for Palestinian TV, The President. The show, a cross between American Idol and The Apprentice, tasks viewers and a panel of expert judges with choosing a young person who embodies the leadership qualities that they would hope to see in the next President of Palestine. The series, which includes audience voting via SMS, was designed to promote democratic values and procedures to a Palestinian audience and engage youth in a democratic process at a time when Palestinian confidence in governing structures is low.

Beginning in March 2013, judges and audience members slowly whittled down the field of over 1,200 candidates from the West Bank, Gaza, and inside Israel. Contestants faced a series of trials designed to test their political skills, including paneled interviews, press conferences, citywide campaigns, and travel abroad as ambassadors of Palestine. In the finale, the two remaining contestants participated in a live TV debate to decide the winner. The President was popular with local audiences and attracted media attention from news outlets in Italy, Denmark, England, and the US, including Reuters, NBC News, Fox News, Sky News, the Associated Press, the Washington Post and CNN International.  All aired episodes are available in Arabic on the Ma’an YouTube channel here.


From CNN - Who wants the 'title' of president?

CNN's Sara Sidner reports on a Palestinian TV show where the winner gets the title of president - 16 May 2013

“The idea is to give voice to a new generation of Palestinians leaders, and we’re hoping to strengthen and re-energize the Palestinian population to returning back to a democratic process.”

Suheir Rasul, co-director at SFCG’s Jerusalem office, during the piece.

The President in the media

Fire Lines

The Carmel Fire

Fire Lines is a documentary coproduced by the Ma'an network and Common Ground Productions. It tells the story of the historic cooperation between firefighters of the Palestinian Civil Defense Force and the Israeli Fire and Rescue Services during the tragic Carmel fire in December 2010. Dramatic historical footage and interviews with Palestinian and Israeli firefighters tell the story of this heroic event.

Highlighting the common humanity of the firefighters and shared concerns of their institutions, the film explores the intersection of human values, national institutions, and statehood. Fire Lines sheds light on how civil security institutions can lay the groundwork for future progress in the region through trust-building, capacity development, and practical cooperation. The film will be broadcast on the Ma'an network in December 2013, the third anniversary of the Carmel Fire disaster.

Blogging for Social and Political Change Network

In 2012, we provided training to a network of 20 leading bloggers worldwide who strive for positive social and political change. The bloggers set up their own website, incorporating a safety feature to ensure the security of bloggers in unstable regions. We also provided training in social media skills to Palestinian bloggers.

Read more about SFCG's projects on Media...

Interfaith Projects

Universal Code of Conduct on Holy Sites

Latest news

On 30 October 2013, the SFCG Jerusalem office hosted a day-long conference at the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the topic of safeguarding holy sites in the Holy Land.  The conference drew top religious leaders from many faiths in Israel, including senior Ahmadiyya, Christian, Druze, Jewish, and Muslim leaders.  The discussion reflected on the significance of sacred places in the Holy Land, compared case studies, and considered the roles and responsibilities of religious leaders and other relevant bodies in safeguarding them.  The conference took place within the framework of a pilot of the Universal Code of Conduct on Holy Sites currently being implemented by the SFCG Jerusalem office.

Coverage Links:

Clip from Israel Hayom on the conference, with SFCG Co-Director Sharon Rosen


outward bound center for peacebuilding

The SFCG Jerusalem Office has partnered with three NGOs – the Oslo Center for Peace and Human Rights, One World in Dialogue, and Religions for Peace – to develop a Universal Code on Holy Sites. The Code maps out a practical code of conduct and policy for sacred places worldwide, aiming to improve the protection of holy sites and promote inter-religious reconciliation. Completed in January 2011 after a three-year development process, the Code is now endorsed by senior religious leaders from over ten faiths.

Code Resources

SFCG is currently implementing a pilot project based on the Universal Code on Holy Sites in the Holy Land with coordination from the Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land (CRIHL). Composed of the Israeli Chief Rabbinate, the Palestinian Ministry of Waqf and Sharia Courts, and the Patriarchates and Bishoprics in Jerusalem, the CRIHL also rents space in SFCG’s Jerusalem office, enabling close working relationships and coordinated efforts. On October 30, 2013, the Jerusalem office will host a conference discussing the safeguarding of holy sites. This conference will bring SFCG together with the Council of Religious Leaders in Israel, who represent all of the faiths found in Israel, and the Adenauer foundation to discuss this important issue.

A successful pilot of the Code has already been implemented in Bosnia and Herzegovina, with plans to launch other projects in Indonesia, Nigeria, and India.  In addition, SFCG and its partners are making efforts to support the development of a UN resolution in the spirit of the Code.

Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land

The Secretariat of the Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land (CRIHL) rents space in SFCG's Jerusalem office, enabling a close working partnership on the Holy Land pilot of the Universal Code on Holy Sites.  CRIHL comprises the Israeli Chief Rabbinate, the Palestinian Ministry of Waqf and the Shari’a Courts of Palestine, as well as all the Patriarchates and Bishoprics in Jerusalem.

Leadership Projects

Israeli-Palestinian Leadership Network

Jerusalem Group

The Israeli-Palestinian Leadership Network is a multi-year initiative to build a broad-based, cross-sector network of Palestinian and Israeli leaders who can effect positive change in the region. Working in close partnership with the Outward Bound Center for Peacebuilding (OBCP), activities include outdoor wilderness expeditions, retreats, local meetings and individual coaching, with a focus on strengthening leadership and conflict resolution skills and building deep personal relationships among important emerging leaders in both societies. The program encourages a culture of positive engagement and addresses the distrust and tension that undermine potential relationships between Israelis and Palestinians leaders.

The network, which already includes religious, political, business, and civil society leaders, expanded in 2013 to include a cadre of female leaders from Israel and Palestine. Since May, the women have participated in a ten day wilderness expedition, followed by various activities which will culminate in the women traveling to the Czech Republic in October 2013, joining the Leadership Network for a ‘Connecting the Hub’ meeting.

YaLa: MENA Leaders for Change

The SFCG Jerusalem Office facilitates YaLa, a leadership project to empower Palestinian and Israeli youth leaders. YaLa, a play on the Arabic and Hebrew term for “Let’s go!”, is a fast-growing network and social movement in the Middle East and North Africa for those who want to work together for constructive change within the region. It includes participants from Egypt, Tunisia, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Libya, Morocco, Algeria and Sudan, plus a following of nearly 400,000 users connected by the YaLa Facebook community. 

Since October 2012, over 100 youth have engaged in a range of activities, including two semesters of online leadership training via YaLa’s Online Academy.  In May 2013, participants attended a conflict resolution workshop facilitated by visiting professors from Harvard Law School.  The project will culminate in a two-day conference in October 2013, with an estimated 120 participants attending.

Ultimately, the training provides youth leaders with the skills to build the capacity of their local organizations, design their own projects, and engage in constructive dialogue between their respective societies.

Health Projects

Cooperative Disease Monitoring System

outward bound center for peacebuilding

Since 2001, Search for Common Ground has facilitated cross-border health cooperation between Israel, Jordan, and the Palestinian Territory.  Our flagship initiative is the Middle East Consortium on Infectious Disease Surveillance (MECIDS), which guards against threats posed by natural disease outbreaks and biological attacks.

At its core, MECIDS is a network that enables the Israeli, Jordanian, and Palestinian Ministries of Health and research institutions to share data about disease patterns and to coordinate swift cross-border responses in the event of an outbreak.  Food- and water-borne diseases are the primary health concerns monitored by MECIDS.

With its administrative secretariat in Jerusalem and its scientific secretariat in Amman, MECIDS is connects and collaborates with a wide range of regional academic institutions, national centers for disease control, and health ministries.

Search for Common Ground works in close partnership with the Nuclear Threat Initiative’s (NTI) Global Health and Security Initiative, which provides funding for the programme.