Palestinian think tank PalThink for Strategic Studies has been chosen as the winner of Atlas Network’s 2021 Middle East and North Africa Liberty Award—and its $5,000 prize—for their suite of events to improve the political climate and increase the political knowledge of Palestinians. PalThink conducted Enhancing Youth for Local and Global Change, one project with four components, with the overarching goal of strengthening both the ideas and practices of classical liberalism in Palestinian territory.
One activity—Gaza in the Eyes of COVID-19—addressed several aspects of how the virus affected life in Gaza. PalThink used interviews with talented young Palestinians to produce videos highlighting how life went on despite the pandemic and how individuals were investing their time. They also wrote and disseminated a policy paper showing the economic effects of the virus, what that meant for individuals, and how those effects could be mitigated. Using the results of that study, the organization produced ten radio episodes on the virus’ effect on society. Those episodes received over 50,000 listens. PalThink also worked closely with Atlas Network partner Fundación para el Avance de la Libertad (Fundalib) to learn how Spain responded to COVID-19 and what steps Fundalib had recommended.
PalThink dubbed another part of their project the “Civic Education Corps.” The organization led a ten-day training program that mentored 25 university students recognized for their leadership abilities, academic success, and demographic diversity. The course focused on teaching participants the ideas and philosophy of liberalism and democracy, as well as the practical skills of promoting those ideas among fellow university students. Using what they had learned—and under the guidance of PalThink and outside experts—the training course participants developed a civic education course. They have since become an independent organization named the Civic Education Corps dedicated to training university students around Gaza using the course built with PalThink.
The third component was establishing a women's-rights research and advocacy group. PalThink brought together alumni—at least half of whom were women—from trainings and projects they had previously conducted to draft ten policy briefings focused on women’s rights and gender issues. They also held three workshops to promote and explain the briefs to key individuals.
The final aspect of their Enhancing Youth for Global and Local Change project was the Palestinian Consortium for Non-Violence. PalThink aimed to further the values of peace and non-violence and promote peaceful solutions to conflict. The project’s first phase lasted from 2017 to 2018 and focused on individual-level outreach. The second phase operated from 2019 to 2020 and incorporated lessons from other countries like Croatia, South Africa, and Ireland to build community-level engagement with non-violent solutions and the establishment of the Palestinian Consortium for Non-Violence to continue that effort.
Atlas Network supported this project with a grant and is excited to award PalThink for Strategic Studies the 2021 Middle East and North Africa Liberty Award. The award will presented during a webinar on Friday, November 19. You can register to attend the webinar here.