Frustrated Palestinian Youth Seek New Outlets To Push Change

Israel Conflict and Factional Feud Dim Opportunities


By Reuters

Published May 01, 2013.
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Most Palestinians feel the split in their leadership has distracted them from the real struggle - coming up with a national strategy to confront Israel’s occupation.

“We hope the will of the youth will bring Fatah and Hamas together. Of course, we want Fatah’s focus on negotiations to give ground to our choice of resistance,” Sati said.

“An uprising will give us suffering and attacks from the Israelis, but we need it to gain our freedom, and we are ready to sacrifice,” he added.

Mervat Abu Hijleh, sporting a T-shirt and Fatah’s black and white chequered headscarf around her neck, said school elections provided an example of the healthy competition that could revive flat-lining national politics.

“We see how old officials are, how little action is being taken and we see the need for change. We, the youth in this vote, are that change, and the different parties can at least agree on that,” she said.

READY TO DIE

Nearly three quarters of young people from Gaza, East Jerusalem and the West Bank are not affiliated with any party and say the factions have not earned their trust, according to a survey of 1,851 people aged 15 to 29 published this year by the Sharek Youth Forum, a local non-governmental organisation.

Almost two-thirds believe a combination of Israel’s policies and internal politics will doom efforts to establish a Palestinian state. But a slim majority also said they believed Palestinian youth have the ability to bring about change.

It’s unclear how much longer they can retain that optimism, however.

Despite the ambition and enthusiasm on display on the set of “The President”, a different reality is the rule on the Palestinian street.

Local people gathered at a mosque in the town of al-Ram in March were attending the funeral of a resident who medics said was killed by an Israeli teargas round fired into his taxi during clashes between soldiers and youths.

As the corpse was carried toward the cemetery, a young man in a soccer jersey wrapped a shawl over his face so only his eyes were visible. He and his friends were preparing again for a street battle, trading rocks for Israeli soldiers’ bullets.

“If I die, good, I welcome that. I would be dying for our martyr and our people,” he said.


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