Democratic dialogue in Palestine: Acculturation towards tolerance
The project aimed to build the capacity of young people in Palestine – primarily students at university in the West Bank and Gaza Strip – to contribute to understanding of tolerance and difference, with a view to bridging socio-political gaps within Palestinian communities, and between the public and the three main authorities in Palestine – the legislative, judiciary and unions.
The project design was underpinned by the growing problem of division among young people in Palestinian society. Project stakeholders also repeatedly mentioned the broader political reality of life in the Palestine territories that impose restrictions that undermine the human rights for young Palestinians and influence their perception of human rights and justice.
Lessons from Project
Although there was media coverage of the project and some of its events, it was left up to individual journalists based on their own interest to cover the issues involved. The grantee might have considered using short-term media expertise, as necessary, to develop a comprehensive media and communications strategy improving outreach of future projects in Palestine.
The students themselves are active as a Facebook group. This, however, is the only real link between the West Bank and Gaza participants, and the evaluators noted that maintaining links between the two areas of Palestine is a continuing challenge.
It was clear that the political situation in the Palestinian Territories and in particular the imposition of movement restrictions, the impasse in peace negotiations and the continued frustration of the Palestinians, limited the impact of the projects at a wider societal level. This limitation was of course beyond the control of the grantee.
The students emerged from the training eager to act. The major criticism of the project from participants was that they were not given enough concrete guidance on what form this action might take or how they should go about organizing. The training focused on improving understanding of theoretical concepts – tolerance, human rights, discrimination – and did not cover practical skills such as project design and management, fundraising and reporting, and evaluation and monitoring, which would have better equipped students to put their newly established knowledge into practice in their communities in Palestine.
The impact of the project was significant at an individual level, with a number of participants putting their training into action within their communities in Palestine – through training, organization of meetings, campaigns and on-line exchange.
Restrictions on movement in Palestine were taken into account in project implementation as far as possible, however they are a significant hurdle to full implementation and effectiveness as well as to impact.
The grantee had set indicators for sustainability that related to individual follow-up, and these were largely met. There were many examples of participants following up the project with individual initiatives, and additionally the grantee continues to engage with the participants through a monthly discussion group, on-line forum and informal contacts in Palestine.
Participants confirmed the usefulness of the training and in particular the access they were given to decision makers in Palestine. The students particularly enjoyed the small group discussions involved. Both facilitators and decision makers commented on the enthusiasm of the students and their willingness to participate.