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!
  • Will Lubavitcher Rabbi Moshe Wiener be the next Met Council CEO?
  • Angelina Jolie changed everything — but not just for the better:
  • Prime Suspect? Prime Minister.
  • Move over Dr. Ruth — there’s a (not-so) new sassy Jewish sex-therapist in town. Her name is Shirley Zussman — and just turned 100 years old.
  • From kosher wine to Ecstasy, presenting some of our best bootlegs:
  • Sara Kramer is not the first New Yorker to feel the alluring pull of the West Coast — but she might be the first heading there with Turkish Urfa pepper and za’atar in her suitcase.
  • About 1 in 40 American Jews will get pancreatic cancer (Ruth Bader Ginsberg is one of the few survivors).
  • At which grade level should classroom discussions include topics like the death of civilians kidnapping of young Israelis and sirens warning of incoming rockets?
  • Wanted: Met Council CEO.
  • “Look, on the one hand, I understand him,” says Rivka Ben-Pazi, a niece of Elchanan Hameiri, the boy that Henk Zanoli saved. “He had a family tragedy.” But on the other hand, she said, “I think he was wrong.” What do you think?
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • Why "Be fruitful and multiply" isn't as simple as it seems:
  • William Schabas may be the least of Israel's problems.
  • You've heard of the #IceBucketChallenge, but Forward publisher Sam Norich has something better: a #SoupBucketChallenge (complete with matzo balls!) Jon Stewart, Sarah Silverman & David Remnick, you have 24 hours!
  • Did Hamas just take credit for kidnapping the three Israeli teens?
  • 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.