This video was filmed on Wednesday, June 22nd at the 2011 National Geographic Explorers Symposium at National Geographic Society headquarters in Washington, D.C.

In a place where struggles over land have fueled hatred and distrust for centuries, Aziz Abu Sarah is finding common ground. His effort to build relationships, not walls, amid the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is especially amazing in light of his own past. Based on his own transformative experience, Abu Sarah dedicates his life to using personal stories and cross-cultural learning to forge unprecedented understanding and positive social change at a people-to-people level. “Meeting Jews for the first time challenged everything I believed; now I use that as a framework to help people question what they think and see how complex the ‘other’ actually is.”


  • Introduction and Sarah's story of growing up in the "Holy Land" (start-04:39 min.)
  • Losing a brother and the need to hit back (04:40-06:50 min.)
  • Growing up politically active (06:51-07:40)
  • Studying Hebrew and sitting in a classroom with Jewish Israelis (07:41-09:23 min.)
  • Finding common ground, working together, and tearing down walls (09:24 -11:21 min.)
  • A cycle of violence and a different direction (11:22-12:32 min.)
  • Learning the story of the other (12:33-13:38 min.)
  • A brother's story, and a partnership to bring people of both sides together (13:39-16:34 min.)
  • A world wide problem and being part of the solution (16:35-19:35 min.)
  • What can you do to make a difference: putting water on the fire (19:36-20:50 min.)
  • Video: A vision to end the conflict (20:51-22:02 min.)

Strategies for Using Video in a Variety of Learning Environments

  • Have students preview several of the videos and choose the one they find most inspiring. Have students describe in writing a conversation they might have with the speaker(s).
  • Freeze the video on a relevant image. Have students observe details in the still image and jot down predictions of what the full video might address. Discuss students’ ideas before and after watching the video.
  • Pose an open-ended question before students watch the video, and have them discuss their ideas before and after in small groups.
  • Have students determine what they think the key message of this video is. Was the speaker effective in getting his or her message across?
  • Show a short clip to engage students during class, and then have students watch the full video at home and write a paragraph responding to the content or a question you give them.
  • Have students note statements that represent facts or opinions, including where it’s difficult to tell the difference. What further research might help distinguish facts vs. opinions? How might the speaker’s viewpoint compare with others’ viewpoints about a topic?

people and culture native to the Arabian Peninsula, North Africa, and Western Asia.


a disagreement or fight, usually over ideas or procedures.


person who practices the Jewish religion.


having to do with Islam, the religion based on the words and philosophy of the prophet Mohammed.


region in the Middle East now occupied by Israel and the Palestinian Territories.

Palestinian Authority

(Palestinian National Authority) organization responsible for governing the semi-independent areas of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank in Israel.