Frustrated Palestinian Youth Seek New Outlets To Push Change

Israel Conflict and Factional Feud Dim Opportunities


By Reuters

Published May 01, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

Far from the children who beg for change from idling cars and the teenagers who hurl rocks at armed Israeli troops, a different spectacle of Palestinian youth is playing out in the ballroom of a luxury Ramallah hotel.

Young contestants are gathered for a taping of “The President”, a game show that aims to select a “new leader” for the Palestinians based on their views on the pressing political issues of the day. The panel of judges is made up of top officials and businessmen.

Bleak Palestinian realities mean whatever comes out of the contest to be “The President” will have only symbolic significance. The winner will be “ambassador for a day” at one of the Palestinian missions in Europe, among other prizes.

But it’s a rare chance for a frustrated and marginalized generation to air their views.

Hanan Ashrawi, a veteran of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), asks a contestant in the Gaza Strip, on which Israel has imposed a tight blockade, about the smuggling of goods from neighbouring Egypt.

“What about the tunnels between Egypt and Gaza, what would you do about that?” she asked of the trade, which bypasses both Israeli and Palestinian officials.

“Well, the goods going through them create an illicit economy which isn’t taxed and take away government revenue,” answers Jihad al-Jaabari, who is taking part in the show via a remote connection from Gaza.

“Do you speak Hebrew?” an Arab member of the Israeli legislature, Ahmed Tibi, chimes in.

“No…but it’s important to learn the enemy’s language,” Jaabari replies, eliciting slight smiles from the judges.

Almost a third of the 4.2 million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza are between 15 and 29 years old, and a third of this youth bulge have no jobs and scant opportunity to challenge their own ageing leaders, let alone Israel’s occupation, beyond taking to the streets.

After the Islamist Hamas party’s surprise 2006 electoral win, the Palestinian parliament has not met for six years and fresh elections are long overdue.

Following a brief civil war with President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah in 2007, Hamas now rules over Gaza while Abbas’ Palestinian Authority governs the Israeli-occupied West Bank.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • What can we learn from tragedies like the rampage in suburban Kansas City? For one thing, we must keep our eyes on the real threats that we as Jews face.
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • "Sometime in my childhood, I realized that the Exodus wasn’t as remote or as faceless as I thought it was, because I knew a former slave. His name was Hersh Nemes, and he was my grandfather." Share this moving Passover essay!
  • Getting ready for Seder? Chag Sameach! http://jd.fo/q3LO2
  • "We are not so far removed from the tragedies of the past, and as Jews sit down to the Seder meal, this event is a teachable moment of how the hatred of Jews-as-Other is still alive and well. It is not realistic to be complacent."
  • Aperitif Cocktail, Tequila Shot, Tom Collins or Vodka Soda — Which son do you relate to?
  • Elvis craved bacon on tour. Michael Jackson craved matzo ball soup. We've got the recipe.
  • This is the face of hatred.
  • What could be wrong with a bunch of guys kicking back with a steak and a couple of beers and talking about the Seder? Try everything. #ManSeder
  • BREAKING: Smirking killer singled out Jews for death in suburban Kansas City rampage. 3 die in bloody rampage at JCC and retirement home.
  • Real exodus? For Mimi Minsky, it's screaming kids and demanding hubby on way down to Miami, not matzo in the desert.
  • The real heroines of Passover prep aren't even Jewish. But the holiday couldn't happen without them.
  • Is Handel’s ‘Messiah’ an anti-Semitic screed?
  • Meet the Master of the Matzo Ball.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.