Palestinian youth regained hope in the possibility of rebuilding common awareness amongst different Palestinian communities and enhancing political and social relations on a solidarity basis, focusing on freedom from the occupation.
Written by: Dr. Talal Abu Rakba
Although Palestinian youth were prevented from advancing their socio-political aspirations, in light of the postponement of general elections, they remain determined to bring about change and transformations that will enhance their political and public participation after years of marginalisation and division. They succeeded in exploiting the opportunity to defend Jerusalem, in which they felt the necessity of unity and a collective national identity. They also regained hope in the possibility of rebuilding common awareness amongst different Palestinian communities and enhancing political and social relations on a solidarity basis, focusing on freedom from the occupation.
Youth action was diversified and their role and potential in defending Palestinian political rights was highlighted remarkably. The national cohesion that was witnessed recently highlighted the failure of Israel’s policies, which worked for decades to replace regional and local concerns of the Palestinian reality at the expense of national and collective concerns. Once again, Palestinian youth succeeded in restoring the Palestinian cause and forcing the entire world to realise the importance of it, which seemed to be declining due to the repercussions of the internal Palestinian division, the collapse of the official Arab system following the revolutions of the Arab Spring and the normalization agreements after the so-called deal of the century.
The youth also brought international attention to the crises of the Gaza Strip, which is the largest open prison in the world, and they restored the need to end the division. Therefore, the Palestinian youth presented a different model from what we were used to previously. They excelled in the media and played a prominent role in bringing about a shift in the narrative. They would smile and raise the peace sign in front of the camera, as an attempt to change the way the world sees them. Moreover, a new path was created, which must be viewed as a historical process that is being formed outside the scope of the approaches to reform and restoration of the Palestinian political system. They raised awareness that is closely linked to restoring the correct description of their relationship with the occupation, which seeks to obliterate the Palestinian national identity and rights. This is an extension of forms of expression and collective political action of the Palestinian people.
However, it is not possible to separate the traditional forms of political action from the new forms led by the Palestinian youth. This requires the development of a new path that builds on what unites the Palestinians in the homeland and the diaspora, rebuilding the Palestinian national project.
Currently, there is hope, which means that there is a new generation who seizes the opportunity and breaks the monopoly of politics without anyone’s permission. This moment and its implications may be similar to the post-Nakba phase during which a new, young generation made its way, developed its forms of work and tools to reach political formations that derived their legitimacy without elections.
In order for youth to take up a leadership position in the political system, they must first work according to the principle of participation in order to transcend regionalism, avoid attempts at monopoly and containment and invest in rebuilding the Palestinian political sphere. This great challenge imposes a reality that is different from all previous forms known to the Palestinian experience. It further requires youth’s investment, which lies in working to create youth spaces and platforms that contribute to the formation of a broad youth front made up of all components of the Palestinian society. This is necessary in order to pressure and demand the formation of an expanded committee to reform and activate Palestinian institutions, strengthen the popular dimension and international solidarity campaigns, correcting the public’s understanding of the Palestinian narrative. Additionally, there must be dialogues and discussions between youth and older generations with a critical vision of political action. Then, they must be linked to historical transformations that occurred before and after Oslo and evaluated critically.