19 June 2013


some political thoughts on the context within which we live:

Palestinians constitute a national minority living within the green line, and ever since the Nakba in 1948, they have had ambiguous relations with the state. On the one hand, we are legally full citizens of the state. On the other hand, we are continuously discriminated against through systemic policies and racist legislations. There is clear discrimination in allocations of resources in all fields - education, health, land, infrastructures, public transport, etc. Not only that, but due to this systemic discrimination, our accessibility to resources such as education, housing, employment, social services, health services, economic opportunities and more are very limited.

Alongside these practices, there are dangerous political processes happening which threaten our collective national identity. The state makes great and strategic efforts to deconstruct our identity and sense of belonging through various means, such as restricting our right to commemorate the Nakba, through school curricula, trying to recruit our youth to the National Civic Service, legislation proposals to give those who did National Civic Service extra rights and incentives in different fields, and more. Furthermore, our freedom of expression is restricted, thus reducing our public, political, social and democratic spaces, and many social change leaders and activists are politically persecuted.

The abovementioned factors constitute only a partial background to our complex reality, which affects the abilities of Palestinian social change organizations to act and effect genuine and sustainable social change in our community. More specifically, this reality has unique effects on our youth which, combined with our still traditional and patriarchal society, poses great challenges on their sound development.

The education system, school curricula, and contents taught are controlled by the state, thereby restricting the development of a Palestinian identity among our youth. Furthermore, the education system today does not provide youth with tool for critical thinking. Political, social and economic issues are ignored, and contexts relevant to youth's lives are not dealt with at all. When they finish high school, there is almost no guidance regarding higher education options, how to choose the right profession according to interests, tools on integration into higher education, etc.

Another issue affecting our youth is the geographic fragmentation. The more than 1.5 million Palestinians living within the green line are geographically fragmented, with three major concentrations of communities: in the Galilee (North), Triangle (Center) and the Naqab (South). Many youth, who live in geographic and socio-economic peripheries (e.g. unrecognized Bedouin villages in the South or from remote villages in the Galilee), do not have the opportunity to meet other youth from other parts of the Palestinian community. This reality affects their ability to develop solidarity across all segments of Palestinian society; solidarity that is larger than their own small local circle, which is necessary if we wish to build a strong and resilient society that is united, has a strong sense of belonging and reciprocal social responsibility.

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