Building Bridges Between People. . .not walls

15 June 2016



"When you don't live in the community

you don't think of them as human."

            ~ O.J.: Made in America

               ESPN-TV documentary (June 2016)

"If I learned one lesson from my time with the CIA it is this:

Everybody believes they are the good guy.

The only real way to disarm your enemy is to listen to them."

            ~ Amaryllis Fox

               Former CIA Counter Terrorism & Intelligence Officer (10 years)


"After 9/11 serving as a CIA officer in the Middle East, including

in Iraq's Al Anbar Province in the 'Triangle of Death,'

my main take-away was an acute awareness of most adversaries'

ignorance about the lives and humanity of one another.

So back in the U.S. I founded The Euphrates Institute

to cultivate informed and engaged global citizens to

lower walls and build bridges to one another."

            ~ Janessa Gans Wilder

               Former CIA Insurgency Analyst


"Life is best when you

build bridges between people, not walls."

            ~ Billy Crystal - Eulogy for Muhammad Ali (1942-2016)


1.  Building Bridges in the West Among Diverse Muslims & Others
2.  Building Bridges in the Midwest By Jews and Muslims Repairing a School
3.  Building Hair Boutique Bridges in Haifa
4.  Building Many Bridges in Jerusalem
5.  Two One-minute Videos

= = 1 = =
Building Bridges in the West
Among Diverse Muslims & Others
Spring 2016 in California, Anwar Abdelsalam, Communications Director at GRANADA ISLAMIC SCHOOL, reached out seeking local Jewish-Palestinian Living Room facilitators to offer experiential communication skills to Muslim students.   
The students and faculty wanted to prepare themselves to engage diverse peers in their larger community.

Abdelsalam wrote seeking for his students "literacy and understanding of diverse beliefs, and understandings of the world we live in and the beautiful variety provided in humanity's rich history of faith."
The two-hour experience in the Mosque for the circle of 68 participants was personal and profound.

A covered Palestinian teen said after her Dialogue experience:  "Before today I always carried my story inside of me privately and never told anyone.  Today after expressing myself and my family's story and being listened to, I feel hopeful for the first time in my life."

Participating students with roots in the Middle East, Indian subcontinent, Asia, Africa and North America repeatedly reported: "Although I've studied side by side with my partner for years, the day's Dialogue was the first time we really knew one another."

See PHOTOS and DETAILS of the 2-hour experience for the circle of 68 participants:


Interfaith Dialogue Training at Granada Islamic School

18 May 2016


= = 2 = =
Building Bridges in the Midwest
By Jews and Muslims Repairing a School

Volunteers from the Michigan Muslim Community Council, the Jewish Community Relations Council of Detroit and the Detroit community at-large joined forces in March to help beautify Nolan Elementary-Middle School, one of the many public schools that has been hit hard by the debt plaguing the Detroit school system.

Its two faiths coming together for one cause, which is helping our students who are going to be our future, said Sumaiya Ahmed, the communications director for the Michigan Muslim Community Council.

David Kurtzmann, the executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Detroit, said, "Its bringing together diverse communities and shattering a perception that we dont know each other, that we cant work together.


Muslim And Jewish Volunteers Unite To Aid A Struggling Detroit School

Its two faiths coming together for one cause.

Huffington Post -- 04 April 2016




= = 3 = =
Building Hair Boutique Bridges in Haifa
Jewish filmmaker Iris Zaki doesn't remember ever chatting with her Arab neighbors growing up in Haifa, in spite of the town's reputation of peaceful coexistence between Jews and Arabs.
But she decided to search for arenas in Haifa where the different groups intersected, connected through the simple rituals of everyday life.

Zaki discovered and made a documentary film about a special hair salon called Fifis.
It is owned by two Christian Arab women and and beloved by Jewish and Arab women alike.

Here she could easily build intimacy with her subjects.
The idea of working for a hairdresser seemed perfect because of the physical connection with the women and the wide array of clientele that such a place offers.

Zaki began working at the boutique salon, chatting with its patrons while washing their hair.
The warmth and safety of Fifis drew women from all over the city, inspiring friendship, acceptance and respect between Arabs and Jews.
VIEW her video of this little island of sanity:


The Shampoo Summit

The New York Times Op-Docs -- 24 May 2016

7-min video adapted from the longer film, WOMEN IN SINK



= = 4 = =
Building Many Bridges in Jerusalem
Four days in April 2016, over 300 Muslim, Jewish, and Christian citizen bridge-builders gathered at the Jerusalem YMCA to learn from one another and grow closer together.
They were part of 90 Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian relationship-building groups of the international umbrella Alliance for Middle East Peace --

Duha Alma, 20, said that the wave of violence has led some of her Palestinian friends to slam her for meeting her Jewish friends.
They say we are betraying and forgetting our people. But violence is not getting us anywhere except for more violence and more deaths.

Violence, Alma added, is the easy way. We are taking the long and hard way to making things better for everyone.
Alma believes their time together permanently alters attitudes and future decisions affecting one another.

This stuff really matters to peoples lives," says Joel Braunold, the executive director of ALLMEP.
Palestinian Huda Abuarquob, ALLMEP regional director, champions "dialogue that takes us from talking to walking; dialogue that works toward building real trusting relationships.


Peace alliance seeks to move beyond sharing a plate of hummus

With aid of umbrella network, eclectic group of Palestinian and Israeli NGOs meets to form a stronger union thats serious about peace-building

Times of Israel -- April 11, 2016

ALLMEP 2016 Community Fair

2-min video

= = 5 = =
Two One-minute Videos
Face-to-face, people can begin opening up in less than 4 minutes -- with  a look, hand, smile, thoughtful question, and listening.


Look Beyond Borders

1-min video

5-min more powerful version


Together, we're better.

One Human Family, Food for All

1-min video

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