The Window on Mount Zion project implemented by Search for Common Ground (SFCG) in partnership with the Jerusalem Intercultural Center from 2015 to 2016, with financial support from the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), had at its core two main components: 1) Establishment and sustainment of a Jerusalem Forum for Religious Security (JFRS) and 2) Activities on the ground on Mount Zion including a) “Window on Mount Zion” volunteer training and activities; b) Mount Zion residents meetings; and c) police training. The volunteers were trained to regularly monitor holy sites and to maintain a pluralistic presence on the Mount. Tenants meetings were held to promote interaction among the residents on the Mount on issues of common concern. The police training aimed to boost appreciation for diverse religious connections to holy sites, to help them understand how the rules of conduct on these sites were established, and to increase their sensitivity towards religious clergy, worshipers and events taking place at holy sites. The project also supported the maintenance of a Registry of Attacks on Holy Sites.
The overarching goal of this project is to prevent violent conflict among the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim religious communities in Jerusalem. Specific project objectives were to 1) enhance collaboration among religious, security, municipal and national government stakeholders to address religious tensions in Jerusalem; and 2) increase coordination to protect holy sites and the people visiting them on Mount Zion.
This project fits into and is an integral part of a larger initiative to safeguard holy sites in the Holy Land based on SFCG’s Universal Code of Conduct on Holy Sites (hereafter the “Universal Code”). This global initiative is spearheaded by SFCG’s Jerusalem office, led by its Israeli co-director Sharon Rosen as SFCG’s global expert on interreligious issues. The purpose of the Universal Code is both to better safeguard holy sites globally and to support interreligious cooperation. A field project is currently being implemented in Jerusalem among Israelis and Palestinians based on the Universal Code but the Code’s activities extend far beyond the Holy Land. A pilot project with external evaluation was implemented in Bosnia and Herzegovina from 2011 – 2013, and projects are, or have been implemented in Indonesia, India, Sri-Lanka and Tunisia. Finally, efforts are being made to support the development of a UN resolution in the spirit of the Universal Code.