Model European Union

As part of its objective to stimulate dialogue within and between different groups and communities involved at different levels in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, IPCRI is currently organizing an innovative project to connect and empower international relations students at Israeli and Palestinian Universities.

The Model European Union (MEU) aims at gathering the future leaders of conflict resolution in Israel and Palestine in a program that reflects “Unity in Diversity”. Indeed, we believe that the EU’s values of dialogue, integration, and diversity through cooperation and freedom of movement are essential if we hope to reach a peaceful, equitable, and sustainable resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This innovative reconceptualization of model United Nations simulations will target young activists studying in Israel and Palestine, be they Israeli, Palestinian, or international students. Together, they will be trained in order to simulate a conference of the Council of the EU during which they will debate on collectively chosen topics.

Challenge

Israel and Palestine already comprise great diversity. Indeed, students from all over the world participate in academic programs related to conflict resolution in Israeli and Palestinian Universities. However, even though they are taught about conflict resolution, these young scholars study disjointedly. Such a situation tends to impede future opportunities for dialogue and constitutes a shortfall of these programs. 

MEU is meant to complement such academic courses and ameliorate their limitations through the implementation of an educational program designed to foster mutual empowerment. Though territorial separation and stigmas present a challenge to this project, IPCRI’s long-established experience shows that persistent efforts can overcome such barriers.

Solution

As underlined, the lacking element in conflict resolution programs is unity. That is why IPCRI seeks to provide the future resolution facilitators with a structure for dialogue and cooperation in order to replicate the EU’s Unity in Diversity. This way, participants will be able to imagine and embody a regional organization for broad cooperation and integration in the Middle East.

Thanks to a solid training program, participants will be provided with practical skills that will stimulate their ability to reach multilateral solutions to national issues. This extracurricular experience based on mutual empowerment will result in new connections and innovative ideas for the future of conflict transformation.

Jerusalem Belfast Forum

Jerusalem and Belfast are both affected by an inflammatory conflict with ethno-national, religious, and territorial dimensions. Both conflicts have affected local residents’ daily lives and impacted the politics at the national level. However, while the future of Jerusalem is uncertain, Belfast reached a settlement almost two decades ago that, although it didn’t solve the conflict, has transformed the situation into one of mutual security and dignity.

This program aims to deliver lessons from other cases of divided cities, with a special focus on the Belfast experience, to local activists in Jerusalem.  Though it does not have the ambition of total resolution to the conflict, this initiative will equip activists from both sides with the knowledge and tools needed to reach a stable consensus. 

The program aims not only to benefit the participants but also the population of Jerusalem in general. Indeed, as all participants are politically active Jerusalemites, with equal numbers from the East and the West, it is expected that this experience will engender a local inter-community partnership that will enhance mutual respect, encourage social diversity and dialogue, and inspire creative, cooperative approaches to addressing the problems in the city.

This group gathered in four meetings, followed by a four-day trip to Belfast. This trip exposed the participants to the city of Belfast and to local lessons in conflict transformation. On June 7th, 2017, there was a concluding forum aimed at analyzing similarities and differences between the two cases and identifying takeaways that may be useful in the Jerusalem context, while creating a network of activists between Jerusalem and Belfast. For more information, you can read through the summary of the project, written before the concluding forum.

 Pictures from the Belfast Forum (May 2017)

          

Regional Committees

 

Negotiations have become futile on the national scale. However, regional interactions between various communities are taking place on a regular basis across the country. As a result, a regional systems of interests are created and offer another avenue toward common understanding. IPCRI aims to create regional track 2 committee which will negotiate the future of local sub-regions by incorporating various stakeholders. These committees will serve as organic processes of mediation and dialogue, building capacity to eventually confront major issues through local agreements.

 

We aim to engage local communities in a participatory process that will illuminate their current interlinks and point to potential areas of agreement for the future. This process will use the tools of participatory mapping, analysis of interaction, and the establishment of regional committees in order to strengthen the connection between the different communities and identify common principles for the spatial and urban development of the common landscape.

Media Literacy Initiative

 

The strengthening of Palestinian democracy must be seen as a key pillar of any effort at national development or negotiated peace process. As the media serves as the “watchdog” of democracy and can become a tool for developing political pluralism, Palestinian media literacy must be enhanced, both to attain these benefits to democracy and to keep the media accountable. Moreover, as social media is highly popular among the Palestinian population, the development of tolerant and open social media is essential for the democratization of the Palestinian political culture.

The IPCRI Media Literacy Initiative, in cooperation with MEMLI (The Middle East Media Literacy Initiative) and the University of Chicago's Center for Middle Eastern Studies, will provide a Media Literacy and Civil Discourse Program for youth living in the West Bank. Digital Citizenship and 21st Century skills will be included, to teach youth how they fit into the opportunities provided in the Human Economy and how to reach their highest potential. Social and Emotional Learning will be the methodology throughout the course. Through this intensive 32-hour course, students will be empowered to evaluate the mechanisms of media construction and bias, to innovate and collaborate with one another through better communication skills, and to understand the benefits of accountable social media use. At the end of the course, 80 young adults across the West Bank will graduate from the program, and 16 young adults will be trained to deliver the curriculum to other groups around the country and be paid for this part-time work.

As a result, a group of agents will be empowered to better scrutinize media and its impacts, to be responsible digital citizens, and to practice the values of pluralism and democracy through increased social and emotional intelligence and civil discourse both on and offline.

For more information about this project, please go to http://www.memli.org/.

Julie Gray, the Director of the Media Literacy Program, lived and worked in Hollywood for ten years, where she was a top story analyst and story editor for novels and film scripts.  A Huffington Post writer, Julie has been published as an essayist and short fiction writer in numerous publications. In 2012, Julie relocated to Tel Aviv, Israel where she directed the Tel Aviv Writer's Salon and later leveraged her considerable story analysis and teaching skills to work with a number of high tech and startup businesses to perfect presentations and communication skills. In 2015, Julie founded MEMLI (The Middle East Media Literacy Initiative), a program to teach media literacy, civil discourse and emotional intelligence skills to youth. Through this program, youth in MENA will acquire the necessary skills to promote empathy, pluralism, democratic values and self-empowerment for a better future.

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