What influenced the Palestinian youth to participate in the Intifadas?By Brayn Hammad The literal meaning of the termIntifada means “shuddering”. It is derived from the Arabic word nafadawhich means “shake off”, the term Intifada is a key concept in the modernArabic language. The term is used to refer to a legitimate uprising againstoppression. In English it is often translated as “uprising”, “resistance”, or’rebellion’. The term is used widely inthe Arab world for different uprisings against monarchies, governments, and occupation.In the history of Palestine there where two officially recognized Intifadas.It refers to attempts to “shake off” the “Israeli” occupation of the West Bankand Gaza Strip. The First Intifada took place between 1987 and 1993, andthe Second Intifada between 2000 and 2005.
Between 2010 and now therehave been calls for a Third Intifada, the latest call for one was afterTrumps decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of “Israel”.In this essay we will go through three-timeperiods, in a chronological order. The first period is 1980 until 1995, thesecond period will be from 2000 until 2015, and the last period that we will lookat is the period between 2010 and now. Palestinians, especially the youth, livein an atmosphere of poverty, destruction, and violence. Despite the conditionsthey live in, the Palestinian youth have a sense of motivation and ambitionthat is inspiring. The history of the Palestinian struggle shows that the youthare the real leaders in radical change in the society from the beginning of theoccupation till present day. Trough out the time the Palestinian youth havebeen subject to many obstacles that deter their efforts to play an effectiverole in the Palestinian political sphere.1Palestine is a male-controlled society, which affect the young people and theirattitude towards politics in their country.
It has negatively affected theirwillingness to participate in politics. Social conditions affected thedifferent generations of youth. The involvement of the Palestinian youth isbased on a culture of significant interest in the political. The anticolonialstruggle laid the foundation for social mobilization organized in public spaces.The youth used various methods to fight the occupation. Examples of theirmethods are, direct clashes with the occupation, fighting back curfews, andrejection of threats and blackmails.The Palestinian generation of the First Intifadaduring the late 1980s has often criticized its successors.
The younger generationshave been accused many times of being politically uninformed. However, theyouth have always played a big roll in the various Intifadas. In thisessay we will look at what influenced the Palestinian youth to participate inthe uprising, their thought about them, and the various ways of resistance.2The First Intifada was a violent,yet unarmed, Palestinian revolt against the “Israeli” occupation of theterritories in Palestine. The Palestinian youth initiated this revolt. Withoutthe help of the PLO or any other political party. In that time Palestinianyouth used various methods to resist the occupation.
it varies from civildisobedience to actual violent clashes with Israeli forces. In this period ofthe Palestinian resistance it was considered that the youth were at their peak,because they were organizing, leading, and shaping their own Intifada.3The first known Palestinian youth movement is Al-Shabab, not to be confused withthe terrorist organization in Somalia. This movement later became as a modelfor current actions.
The reasons behind their actions varied. Allot of theyouth felt let down by the Arab countries that in their eyes failed to freePalestine from the occupation. 4Therewas no central control who was fighting against the occupation and afterseveral incidents between the Palestinian youth and the “Israeli” army, theso-called bomb exploded. Mass protest broke out starting in the Gaza Stripand it spread to the West Bank and the occupied territories. The youthorganizers of the uprising emphasized a bottom-up, grassroots approach to thedecision-making on collective action, and often merely transmitted needs anddecisions taken by popular committees.With ‘peaceful’ means, and no arms, thePalestinian youth drew the attention of the whole world and shed light on theirgoals of freedom and self-determination. The actions were evidence thatPalestinians can engage directly with the occupation, without the help orcontribution of leaders or other Arab countries.
However, the results of thefirst Intifada was not how the youth expected it to be. The leaders ofFatah and the PLO reached an agreement with “Israel” and did not look at whatthe Palestinian youth had to say even though they were the ones on thefrontlines.During the second period the Palestinianyouth was depressed and stressed, they saw no hope in the political process.Frustrated at seeing their land being confiscated on a daily and systematicbasis around the West Bank. The illegal separation wall and the hundreds ofillegal settlements were destroying their dreams of independence. It led theyoungsters to a state of uncertainty. The difference in the Second Intifadawas that the youth did not conduct in only nonviolent demonstrations but alsodecided to align with resistance forces and pick up the arms.5During this uprising the revolts were more organized than before, and thedifferent political fractions in the country called the people to stand upagainst the oppression.
The youth also began to look up to the armed groups andmilitants, they are respected and appreciated buy them. The mostly young malefighters are seen as the brave protectors of Palestine. The Second Intifada ended evenworse than the first one. The restrictions by the occupation became worse onthe Palestinian people.
This had a grate impact, especially on the Palestinianyouth. In the years between the second and third period the youngsters began toseek for new ways to define the occupation and to make sure that their voicesare heard.6The different NGO’s that are present in Palestine play a big role because oftheir mostly neutral platform. The NGO’s are a platform for the young peoplewhere they can express their opinion freely. To the Palestinian youth ‘freely’means free of something they cannot do under the umbrella of a political party.
The third period is characterized by thefollowing events, Hamas’ coup in the Gaza Strip, the ongoing corruption inFatah and the Palestinian Authority, the continuing “Israeli” occupation of theWest Bank, and the Arab Spring. In this period the Palestinian youth movementsdid not only resist the occupation but also the Palestinian Authority. With nonviolentmobilizations the youth expressed their disagreement with the PAs’ position onmany matters.7 Thesecounterproductive conditions that surround the youth in Palestine helps spreadthe belief that there is no political solution in the future. This made thePalestinian youth to join other political institutions. The Palestinian youthis fed up with the constant fight between Fatah and Hamas. The Jerusalem Media& Communication Center conducted an opinion poll that showed that themajority of the Palestinians want an end of the split between Fatah and Hamas,even to “Israel” and the US might enforce sanctions on Palestine which wouldmake the living conditions even worse, they assert that the two parties muchachieve a compromise.
In the last period there is a big expansion of advocacy groupin response to the situation in Palestine. To be effective they formed smaller subgroupsto focus on specific issues. An example is the anticolonial opposition group. The beginning of the Arab Spring inTunisia and later other countries energized new Palestinian movements, theyoung Palestinians formed various independent youth movements. Their focus wasthis time on the cause of national reconsolidation.
8Theiraim and number one goal were to popularize the resistance. The uprisings that happenedall over the middle east inspired the Palestinian youth to stand up for theirrights and act. The youth that stud up as activist in these movementswere mostly new actors in the political scene. Many of them young andwell-educated and as in previous Intifadas most of them came from themiddle class. The youth movements maintain drive by preforming effectiveactions and strategies. They try to be close to the people, so that they canunderstand their feelings and get their trust. This goes along with being freeof any political fraction so that people can talk without consequences aboutsensitive situations.9During every demonstration or march the movements try to find new creative waysto get the attention of the public opinion and (inter)national media outlets.
The Palestinian youth movements are inclose contact via social media with activist around the world. It is a way forthem to find new forms of collective actions. Like for instance, the BlackAmericans against racial policies in the United States of America but also thelegacy of South Africans’ fight against racism. During the Ferguson protest inthe USA many Palestinians twittered tips and tricks, an example was on what todo when the police shoot teargas at the protestors. Social networks are animportant tool to mobilize and to influence the public opinion.10New technologies of the 21st century helped mass mobilization thatcensorship has otherwise circumvented.
There is also this form of popularresistance. Villages like Bilin, Nailin, and Nabi Saleh became symbols for theresistance against land theft of the “Israeli” occupation forces. Theirresistance to the occupation in forms of weekly Friday protest made thesevillages famous. Activist from around the world come to these villages toparticipate in the weekly protests. The involvement of political leaders andthe existence of persistent youth leaders encourage the people to volunteer in thesepeaceful protests. An example of a leader is Ahed Tamimi from Nabi Saleh, a 17-year-oldgirl who participate weekly in the protest often on the frontlines standing infront of the soldiers preventing them to shoot at the protesters. Couple weeks ago,she was arrested late at night by the “Israeli” occupation forces and is facinga 2 to 10 years jail sentence for allegedly slapping an armed “Israeli” soldierin front of her house.
Also, another form of resistance is musicand musical performance, during the last years these forms have been noticeablyeffective for nation building and resistance. However, in contrast withtraditional Intifada songs that were popular during the first and seconduprising, Palestinian youth developed new forms of cultural activism that ismore aligned with multiethnic principles of art.11The spread of cultural activism as seen in the expansion of music and artsfestivals that take place in Palestine offers a good contrast to theold-fashioned model of resistance in Palestine. This new concept of resistancegives local Palestinian musicians opportunities to engage and interact with theglobal stage.12The Palestinian youth movements have beenforming and expending for some time now, starting back in the 1950’s withsimple student organizations and later groups that effectively fought againstthe occupation.
In the last period we saw the groups achieve significantpublicity by not only resist the occupation but also the Palestinian Authorities.13The youth have increased their social and symbolic status trough out the time. Peoplerespect them, and they proved their worth trough strikes, boycott, civil, andother actions of disobedience. The Palestinian youth became one of the mostpoliticized youth in the world. This due their influences on a broad group ofpeople. Many political organizations made various youth fractions to get theirinfluences.ReferencesAbu Labdeh, Razan.
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