The strengthening of Palestinian democracy must be seen as a key pillar of any 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 in order to keep the media accountable. Moreover, as the 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 reach their highest potentials. 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 scrutinise media and its impacts, to be responsible digital citizens and to practice the values of pluralism and democratic values through increased social and emotional intelligence and civil discourse and debate 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 skills for a better future.